Enjoy this live concert of the Yonaha Tōru Band from their performance at output in Naha December 30, 2020. Tōru is a musician who’s able to masterfully perform in both koten (classical) and minyou (folk) — add roots pop to that too. He has two channels on YouTube but this is the one that’s being updated: よなは徹 YouTube so be sure to subscribe!
If you have the NHK World app (website link) be sure to catch the latest episode (1/10) of J-MELO (it’s on VOD until March 12, 2021) to see Miyazawa Kazufumi perform an acoustic (sanshin-only) version of Shimauta. It’s always interesting to see an artist’s rendition of a song they’ve played 100’s (probably 1000’s in this case) of times to see how its changed and this performance doesn’t disappoint. Don’t miss it!
The manjū pictured for the video’s thumbnail is my grandmother’s favorite and it’s become one of mine’s too. Check out the I Will Always Travel for Food’s YouTube channel for Day 1’s video as well as upcoming and archived videos.
Rory (アーサー [aasaa] in the Japanese-language version) is a lion jock villager in the Animal Crossing video game fr0m Nintendo (above photos are from the New Horizons version of the game — he first appeared in the New Leaf version of the game) who is Ryukyuan. Playing the English-language version of the game doesn’t give you much aside from what can be seen visually (e.g. Rory looks like a shīsā and his home looks like it could be in Okinawa with the red-tile roof, mangrove wallpaper, shīsā, and tropical setting) and perhaps you may catch what sounds like kāchāshī playing from his house radio — more on this in a second.
On the other hand, the Japanese-language version all but spells it out for you starting with his name アーサー aasaa (a play on shiisaa although it’s translated as Arthur), his catchphrase is ナハッ (Naha! and in English it’s capital — as in Naha is the capital of Okinawa), his quote is なんくるないさ (nankurunaisa and in English it’s set ’em up and knock ’em down), and his favorite song (the one playing from his house radio) is ハイサイけけ (haisai keke and in English it’s called K.K. Faire) — more on this below.
K.K. Faire (ハイサイけけ)
Hearing this song (link to a sample of the song on YouTube) for the first time and realizing what it was, I was like: “Wait, is that an Okinawan song?!” I had to quickly DuckDuckGo it to find out more and the first thing was that it was called “K.K. Faire” (like, what?) but looking at the album art and its Japanese title「ハイサイけけ」”Haisai Keke” confirmed that it was indeed an Okinawan song. I feel that the album’s cover art and the song style is a tribute to 登川誠仁 Noborikawa Seijin. Speaking of the album art, if you’re familiar with the 三線 sanshin, you’ll notice that it’s depicted with four karakui instead of the normal three (although four to five strings can be found on the くーちょー kuuchoo and there is a 6-string sanshin called a rokushin) and the bachi (plectrum) K.K. is holding is in the Japanese style. (Image via Nookipedia.)
The Search for Rory
So if you want Rory to live on your island right away (as opposed to hopefully having him at your campsite or going villager hunting), you’re in luck as he has an amiibo card (Series 4, #352). What’s probably luckier for us is that he’s not a popular villager (i.e. he doesn’t rate high on a tier list — yep, there’s a tier list) so his amiibo can be found on eBay for a couple of dollars (popular amiibo cards can be found for close to $100 USD!). If you’re able to have him live on your island, make sure to have K.K. Faire playing on one of your outside music players as it’s super cute to see him singing along to it. (Image via Nintendo.)
Other Okinawa-related things to note for Animal Crossing. A bingata 紅型 dress can be purchased at Able Sisters and the paper kite butterfly オオゴマダラ (can be found all year on both hemispheres) is the official butterfly of Okinawa. If you’re lucky, you may find K.K. Faire for sale at Nook Shopping or better yet, you can get a free copy from K.K. himself by requesting the song. Leave a comment if you’ve found anything else related to Okinawa and be sure to leave your island’s dream address and I’ll definitely pay a visit!
I just started watching Cobra Kai (Netflix link) and am still on Season 1 so it’s great to see what develops in future episodes/seasons of the series. Cobra Kai takes place decades after the Karate Kid films (the ones starring Pat Morita as the sensei) so it’s nice to see that it calls back to the Okinawa background of the films: Karate Kid Part II took place in “Okinawa” (it was actually filmed on Oahu, Hawaii) and the Mr. Miyagi character (Pat Morita) is originally from Okinawa. One thing to note is that we’ll have to wait until Season 3 to see guest stars Tamlyn Tomita, Traci Toguchi, and Yuji Okumoto.
History of Okinawan immigration begins in January 1900, when the first 26 migrants from Okinawa arrived in Hawai‘i to seek better lives for themselves and their descendants. Now Hawai‘i residents of Okinawa ancestry number approximately 50,000, one of the largest ethnic groups in Hawai‘i. Okinawan workers faced significant discrimination when they arrived, but they successfully created a life for themselves and their descendants. Okinawans (Uchinanchu) are proud of their distinct culture, independence, and legacy in Hawai`i. The Hawai‘i Okinawa Center is one of the largest cultural centers in Hawai‘i and the annual Okinawan Festival is one of the largest ethnic community events on O‘ahu.Link to article
Sixteen rainbow shower trees were planted at the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park (it’s actually across the street from the Hawaii Okinawa Center HUOA). The grove of rainbow shower trees can be found near the southern entrance of the park and hopefully I’ll be able to share a photo of it one day.
One thing I have wondered is why rainbow shower trees (in Okinawa they have the golden shower trees). Although I wasn’t able to find its significance in Okinawa, the tree has cultural importance in Thailand and the Philippines.
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).
Let’s give them our support!
Link to RBC’s article.
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.
Link to Kiku TV’s 2021 New Year’s Specials
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!
Link to Top Songs of 2020: Japan (Apple Music Playlist)