RBC aired a 1-hour special today called “Ryukyu Athlete MTG 2021” (琉球アスリートＭＴＧ２０２１). The TV special features several athletes from Okinawa that will be competing in Tokyo 2020 (now in summer 2021 as it was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The athletes (links to their Wikipedia page if available) featured in the special are Kiyuna Ryo (karate), Arashiro Yukiya (cycling road race), Miyamoto Masanori (weightlifting), Kina Tsubasa (wheelchair marathon), Ikehara Ayaka (handball), Tsuha Hibiki (long jump), and Tome Takanori (canoe).
Although many of us were saddened of Kiku TV’s decision in not picking up the 71st NHK Kouhaku Uta-Gassen, they are showing two special dramas that have actresses from Okinawa featured in them.
The first airs tonight (Saturday, 1/2) and is called The Last Promise (Saigo no Yakusoku) which aired in Japan on January 9, 2010. This special drama stars Kuroki Meisa (2010 is during the height of her popularity and prior to her marriage to Akanishi Jin) as Niimi Yuriko (daughter of the president of Energy Bio Corporation).
The second airs on Wednesday 1/6 and is called Shitto (Jealousy) which aired in Japan on August 16, 2020. This special drama stars Kuninaka Ryoko (of Churasan fame and is married to popular actor Mukai Osamu) as Nagai Fumina.
So how did music artists from Okinawa (or Okinawan) fair in Apple Music’s Top Songs of 2020: Japan playlist? Let’s take a look…
And, it’s 0 (zero). Yep, pretty sad. Looking at 2019’s playlist, we see Da Pump’s U.S.A. and Mongol800’s Chiisana Koi no Uta (note that this song is originally from their 2001 album MESSAGE). (Link to the 2019 playlist.) Let’s hope we’ll see more artists in 2021!
Yes, it was a very different NHK Kouhaku Uta-Gassen (the 71st) with the ongoing pandemic performances were done without an audience. But for those that are fans of Okinawan pop culture, we can celebrate that popular actress Nikaido Fumi (Naha, Okinawa) was one of the announcers for the annual song battle. She currently starts in NHK’s asadoraYell.
While it’s great to see this make national news in Japan, it’s sad that I had to learn of this outside of Okinawa. It’s definitely something none of my relatives in Okinawa — even those that live in Koza — ever talk about.
If you’re looking for an amazing anime to binge on before the year ends, look no further than Carole & Tuesday which is streaming on Netflix (US). It has a great story, great music, and a great message. Voice actor Shimabukuro Miyuri (島袋美由利) from Okinawa voices Carole (singing is done by Nai Br.XX) and although she’s only been active since 2017, her filmography is already impressive. We look forward to seeing (rather, hearing) more of her in 2021!
Chuning Candy is a 5-member idol girl group that formed in 2013 from the CAT’S EYE talent school in Naha Okinawa. They follow history of idol groups from Okinawa that includes Super Monkey’s, MAX, Da Pump, Speed, D&D, and Folder 5.
The members of Chunican are Kotone (琴音), Sophie (ソフィー), Lili (LILI), Yuuri (ゆうり), and Aiko (愛子). The group made their major label debut in 2018 with the single “Dance With Me” and to date have released 6 singles (the one featured above from their YouTube channel is their cover of “Dynamic Ryukyu” (ダイナミック琉球). The have several videos for “Dynamic Ryukyu” and each have amassed more than 1 millions views so it can definitely be thought of as their breakout song.
Follow their official Twitter account link for their latest news.
In addition to being a fan of Okinawan music, I also listen to a lot of other music and have been a fan of Imogen Heap and her band with Guy Sigsworth, Frou Frou. In 2019 they released an EP called Shurayo featuring the tracks Shurayo, Shimauta, and Shurayo (Mika’s Version).
So you must be wondering “wait a minute, I see Imogen and Guy, so who is Mika in Mika’s version?” It’s none other than one of Karakui’s favorite minyou artists Uchizato Mika! She shares songwriting credits for Shimauta (so yeah, it’s not a cover of The Boom’s song) and Shurayo. Be sure to add the EP to your collection.