Okinawa VTuber Nema Ui

If you’re into cute culture you’ll definitely want to check out the Okinawa VTuber Nema Ui. If you’re not familiar with what a VTuber (Virtual YouTuber) is, here’s an English example from Wikipedia:

… an online entertainer who uses a virtual avatar generated using computer graphics. A growing trend that originated in Japan in the mid-2010s, a majority of VTubers are Japanese-speaking YouTubers or live streamers who use anime-inspired avatar designs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_YouTuber

Ui is very active on Twitter and you’ll find many of her followers submitting pretty amazing fan art. She’s so popular that her merchandise is sold at the Kokusai-dori Don Quijote store! She usually posts a video once a week and often uses a few Uchinaa-guchi words in her dialogue.

Subscribe to Nema Ui’s YouTube channel and follow her on Twitter. Okinawa Club website (has English translation!)

@LoochooW on Twitter

Here’s a great way to learn Uchinaguchi via Twitter by following @LoochooW. There’s also a language account @ryuukyu_Lan but it’s only in Japanese and although this other one is only in Japanese, it’s a fun one to follow since it’s @Ryujin_Mabuyer.

Pro Cyclist Arashiro Yukiya

Photo by Miwa Iijima @iimiwa

There’s a world-class pro road cyclist from Ishigaki, Arashiro Yukiya, who has been in the pro peloton from 2006. Many people may not associate pro road cycling with Okinawa outside of the Tour de Okinawa and triathlon events so Yukiya is truly a standout. He’s one of a handful of racers from Asia to participate in the Tour de France and out of that group, one of the few to complete a Grand Tour. Yukiya is an all-rounder so he’s able to participate in all the different Tours from sprints to climbs. He’s currently riding with Team Bahrain Victorious and in 2021 (as of April) has raced in Paris-Nice, Milano Sanremo, and Tour of the Alps.

I remember watching him in the Tour de France from a few years ago and having so much pride in seeing him and hearing his name mentioned by the English-speaking TV commentators. Presently, there are only a few pro cyclists from Asia so having one from Ishigaki is a treasure to me.

Follow Yukiya on Twitter (his wife Mari (@iimiwa), a pro photographer, also tweets news and photos of Yukiya)

@toranosukev on Twitter

Travis Seifman is probably one of my longest Twitter follows and I’ve learned so much from him about Ryukyu/Okinawa. He has so many amazing Twitter threads that it’s difficult to select one so I chose one of his more recent ones that happens to be linked to his blog post Ryukyu: Empire of the Sea. Speaking of his blog, 上り口説 Nubui Kuduchi, it’s the best English-language resource to learn about Ryukyu/Okinawa on the web.

Here’s an excerpt from the blog post mentioned above:

It’s rare enough to see whole special exhibits dedicated to Ryukyuan history, and as wonderful and special as it would have been to do a Shuri-centered or Okinawa-centered exhibit (both in general, and in the wake of the fire at Shuri gusuku in 2019), it’s really something to see them do a show based on perspectives from outside of Okinawa Island. I have to wonder, when was the last time that any of the most major museums in the greater Tokyo area did a show focusing specifically on these “outer” parts of the Ryukyus? And, not only that, but as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, there a several current trends in Ryukyu Studies for reassessment of the Ryukyu Kingdom as an “empire,” reassessment of just how unified even Okinawa Island really was prior to the 15th or 16th century, and an increased focus on these outer islands and the differing perspective they can offer.

https://chaari.wordpress.com/2021/04/15/ryukyu-empire-of-the-sea/

Links: Twitter | Blog

@horinyo on Twitter

Maybe weekly, I’ll feature an account on Twitter that’s worth a follow. Today I’m featuring @horinyo (ホリーニョ) from Osaka who tweets colorized black and white photos of Okinawa before and after the war. The photos are amazing and with close to 9,000 of them, you can spend days scrolling through their Twitter feed. Interesting (well, at least to me) is that the account has amassed close to 8,000 followers and I think this is important to note as there are photos that show our devastated island after the war that I hope many outside of Okinawa will learn about. The tweet and photo above is one of the more recent ones originally from June 1945 in the Shuri area. How great would it be to learn that this family survived the war.

Yasukatsu Oshima’s albums available on iTunes!

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I’ve long, long, been a fan of utasaa (minyou singer) Yasukatsu Oshima and although I already own most of the albums in his discography, having his music readily available for other future fans on iTunes is simply awesome. I have to give a lot of props to whoever is in charge of promoting the singer (Miki Nagata?) because in addition to having his albums on iTunes, Yasukatsu’s website has been wonderfully redone with information in English (with an RSS feed), a Twitter acccount, and gems like this translated bit from an interview found in Urma magazine.

If I had to recommend an album of his to start your collection with, I’d say pick-up “Island Journey” which is very easy to listen to and features guest musicians such as J-pop artist UA, pianist Ayano Kinjou of the J-pop duo Kiroro, and wunderkind utasaa Kanako Hatoma.

Unfortunately, missing from the albums available on iTunes as well as the discography listing on the website is his debut album “Nishi Kaji Hai Kaji,” released in 1993 from Polystar. The album featured the song “Irayoi Tsukiyahama” which was co-written with Eishou Higa of BEGIN (who covers the song on their first shimauta collection “Omototakeo 1”).

Among his contemporaries from Yaeyama, if I were to connect a genre to each I would say that Yukito Ara is rock, Eishou Higa (BEGIN) is pop, and Yasukatsu is soul. My wish from now is to see all of their music—especially Yukito’s as well as Parsha’s because they’re on an indie label—available digitally as well. It’s my hope that they’ll follow Yasukatsu’s lead in making their music readily available to the world through online stores like iTunes.

(BTW, the only album of his missing in my collection was his beautiful collaboration with Geoffrey Keezer which, thanks to it being available on iTunes, I now own. 😀 )

Link: Yasukatsu’s albums on iTunes (link opens iTunes)
Link: Official website (in English)

Siori (しおり)

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I recall hearing about a singer from Okinawa who had made the jump as an indie artist to a major label and it’s funny that I’d stumble upon her via the U.S. iTunes store. Siori (alt. Shiori) is a 21 year-old J-pop singer-songwriter from Shuri who made her indie debut with the 2006 single “Smile” (watch the clip on YouTube down below) which was used as the CM song for Itoen’s Sanpincha drink (the official tea of Karakui.com). Talk about making a tasty debut (pun intended).

Her major label (Capitol Music Japan) debut came a year later with the August 2007 single “Heart Flower/Yakusoku” and a rerelease of the single “Smile” on November 2007. In July of this year she released her first album titled “Aozora” and her third single, “Towa/sweety,” was just released on December 3rd.

If you like Kiroro, give Siori a listen and I’m sure you’ll like her music. Siori’s indie debut single, “Smile,” is available at the U.S. iTunes Store (link opens iTunes)—DRM-free to boot.

Official Website
Official Blog