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!)

“Hanamizuki Okinawa Hougen Ver.” is the MV of the Year

If you watch one music video on YouTube, this must be it. The MV is an acoustic cover of the very popular J-pop song Hanamizuki by Hitoto Yō (she’s Japanese and Taiwanese) and matches well with Uchinaa-guchi and Ryūkyū instruments, dance and vocals. (Another version to listen to is from Amami Ōshima’s Minami Kizuki.) The music video is a collaboration between guitarist HOMARE of Nanaironote and model/actress/singer Karin Miyagi who recently collaborated with famous Okinawan artist Naka Bokunen for the Chimugasana project. Filming took place at Ryukyu-mura.

An interesting connection that this cover of Hanamizuki makes is that the song inspired a film of the same name (2010 release) that starred the popular Okinawan actress Aragaki Yui and had its international debut at our very own Hawaii International Film Festival!

h/t @sherryberry100 on Twitter.

Eisaa Don-Don (Drama)

To commemorate the 65th anniversary of the All-Island Eisaa Festival (canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic), a drama special was shown on OTV on February 13th of this year. It looks like a must-watch drama and I love the part in the above trailer when it shows one of the drama’s themes: “We will protect our (eisaa) tradition” (伝統は俺たちが守ります). So the bad news is that the drama isn’t available to be streamed nor is there a physical copy on sale (a few of the YouTube comments are pleading for a DVD). OTV and Zentou Eisaa, please release the drama on YouTube!

Zentou Eisaa website and their YouTube channel.

BTS’s Dynamite in Uchinaa-guchi

What better example of Ryukyuan pop culture than this cover of K-pop group BTS‘s super-catchy Dynamite sung in Uchinaa-guchi? The brilliant cover is by Toume Yoshiaki (Usumasa Okinawa) who is an uta-sanshin player, Okinawa shibai actor, and a Ryukyuan Dance performer. Be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel and follow him on Twitter. I’m looking forward to see what he comes up with in the future.

Kiiyama Shouten (きいやま商店)

I remember Kiiyama Shouten when they had their CD debut and thought it would be a one-time variety type of release. To my surprise they’ve kept going for over a decade and recently released a new single Akasatana with a very fun music video featuring popular Okinawan TikTokers.

To their credit (or to their record label), all of their albums from 2010’s Sayonara no Natsu to 2018’s Ocean Okinawa are available on iTunes and Apple Music (link). The new single will be part of a mini album of the same title to be released on 4/28 (next week!). Follow them on Twitter and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

h/t @sherryberry100 for sharing the music video!

Speaking of Japanese Artists & Okinawan Music

Found about this on Twitter of a live performance of the song Okinawa Samba (from 1980) by Asano Yuko who is perhaps best known as an actress but she began as an idol singer. Upon first discovering the song, I read it as Okinawa Sanba as サンバ is also used for the Ryukyu instrument sanba (三板) so realizing that no one was playing sanba in the video but the music sounded like samba was kind of funny to me.

I also have a thread on Twitter that this post took me in rabbit hole while researching it. Lol.

Suzuhana Yuko (Wagakki Band) Plays Asadoya Yunta

Suzuhana Yuko, the vocalist of the Japanese folk rock band Wagakki Band, recently shared on her YouTube channel that she’s a fan of the sanshin and Okinawan folk music. She performs Asadoya Yunta and talks a bit about how she came upon the instrument and her love of Okinawa. In the video’s description, she writes in English (probably for her worldwide audience) of how the sanshin is not the same as the shamisen that’s used in her band’s music. Maybe we’ll one day see an original Okinawan folk pop/rock song on a future album of Wagakki Band like The Boom’s Shima Uta and Heiwa no Ryuka from the Southern All Stars.

i-Dushi’s YouTube Channel

I’ve posted about i-Dushi before and lately they’ve been very active on their YouTube channel (link). The video clip above is one of their older ones (2015) performing a cover of Umi no Koe and it has over 3 millions views! In addition to their original songs, they also do Okinawan versions of famous J-pop songs.

Cocco’s YouTube Channel Hits 60,000 Subs

Cocco’s YouTube channel recently hit 60,000 subscribers and in typical Cocco fashion she released a fun video to commemorate it.

An interesting thing to note about her YouTube channel is that she directs her own music videos. So she’s basically writing her lyrics, writing her music, and directing her music videos! She’s so talented! If you watch the video closely you may catch a glimpse of her beautiful sanshin.

Subscribe to Cocco’s YouTube channel