The Hatoma Family at Ishigaki’s Bashofu

Last week I made a trip down to the Yaeyama Islands, the most southerly of the Ryukyus. While on the largest island, Ishigaki, I called in at Bashofu, the minyo live venue which is run by Takashi and Chiyoko Hatoma. The Hatomas are both accomplished singers and musicians who have appeared at the annual Ryukyu Festivals held in mainland Japan. Their daughter Kanako Hatoma, however, is even better known and was discovered by singer, producer, and songwriter Sadao China when she was a bubbly, cheerful and enormously talented 15 year old. China co-wrote her first single ‘Chidori’ and has produced both of her subsequent albums, Yon no Michi (2001)and Tida nu Fa (2008).

Kanako Hatoma is 27 now and she lives on the main island of Okinawa where she sings regularly at China’s own club Shimauta in Naha. So it was a surprise when, on my first night at Bashofu, the door opened and in came Kanako. She is currently back in Ishigaki on holiday and to visit her family. I was lucky enough to see her impromptu performance, which was both solo and with her parents and other musicians. Inevitably, ‘Chidori’ was one of the songs she sang that evening but she also has a great store of Yaeyama minyo in her head and seems even happier when asked to sing some of them. Her performance of the classic ‘Tubarama’ together with her father was a highlight of the evening.

Kanako Hatoma with mother Chiyoko

I’ve known Kanako since those early days of her music career when I interviewed her for the first edition of The Power of Okinawa. She has kept in touch ever since and her sunny disposition seems not to have changed at all. Her parents are always very welcoming at this friendly live venue and on this occasion I was able to sit down with them all and chat over several glasses of awamori. Four days later the whole process was repeated on my second visit there.

...and with father Takashi

Bashofu is in the centre of the city of Ishigaki and is open most nights until midnight…though it was after one o’clock when I left last week. Address: Ishigaki-shi, Misaki-cho, 12-12. Tel: 0980-82-7765.

Explore posts in the same categories: Live in Okinawa

3 Comments on “The Hatoma Family at Ishigaki’s Bashofu”

  1. Eiji Toyama Says:


    I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.

    I have added your site to my site.

    Please link my site to your site.

    Thank you! (;_;)/~~~


  2. reluctantsalaryman Says:

    I saw Yasukatsu Oshima in Tokyo last night (wonderful gig) and Kanako Hatoma joined him for about half of the set. She was just enchanting — her sunny disposition just shone out from the stage.

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