Yoneo Miyaguni: Miyakojima Koyo
Okinawa’s Campus Records has just released a new album by 62 year old Miyako Island singer and sanshin player Yoneo Miyaguni who is currently based in Urasoe, Okinawa. Miyakojima Koyo is a collection of 16 traditional songs from the Miyako Islands on which Miyaguni’s vocals and sanshin are accompanied by hayashi and koto.
Among the more familiar Miyako songs are versions of ‘Togani Ayagu’ and ‘Nariyama Ayagu’ while the album closes with a lively recording of the dance song ‘Miyaguni no Kuicha’ featuring members of the Miyaguni Kuicha Hozonkai.
Not everything is equally successful and Miyaguni’s recording of the lullaby ‘Bangamuri’ as a duet with opera singer Makiko Kuroshima is probably best described as an acquired taste.
Miyako is home to some of the very best traditional songs and music from the Ryukyus and it’s good to hear them recorded by a native whose purpose is to encourage people to learn more about Miyako culture through the songs of his islands. This is Miyaguni’s third album but his first on Campus Records. The 20 page CD booklet contains no information about the musicians but there are copious notes on the songs and their background as well as Japanese translations of all the words.