Misako Oshiro: Kana Uta

It has often been said that Misako Oshiro is the greatest living female singer of traditional Okinawan songs and her story as a singer and sanshin player (and occasional actor in films) is well known. The veteran musician has been performing for 57 years and is still active as a singer while also running her own minyo bar in Naha known as Shima Umui.

This new double album is a ‘best’ selection of 33 songs. It has a total running time of 138 minutes and takes us from 1962 up to 1998. There are nine songs previously unreleased on CD and a further eleven which have never been released in any format until now. The package comes with essays on Oshiro by singers Sadao China and Kazufumi Miyazawa, film director Yuji Nakae and writer Norieda Okabe.


The sound quality is generally very good and it all begins with the earliest recording of her first single ‘Kataumui’ from 1962 which was composed by Teihan China. Two other versions of the same song are also included in the release. The first CD contains recordings sourced from the Marufuku, Maruteru and Victor labels. These are mostly from the 1960s but there are also three songs from Oshiro’s appearances at the Ryukyu Festivals in 1975.

The second CD has two more Ryukyu Festival tracks and several rare recordings which are made available for the first time. Most of these are from 1997-98. There are also three tracks from her 1998 collaboration with Naeko Seragaki. Oshiro’s more recent 21st century recordings – she made two albums for Tuff Beats and a further three for Respect (with Kanako Horiuchi, Oki, and Seijin Noborikawa) – are not drawn from at all so it could be argued that this is not a representative selection of her entire recording career. Nevertheless, the focus on her earlier work is no bad thing as it presents her when she was at the peak of her powers.

Misako Oshiro

Misako Oshiro

Among the songs are several of her famed duets with Rinsho Kadekaru and also some songs with Sadao China. Her version (with Kadekaru) of ‘Kunjan Defuku’ is a high point and so is her recording of ‘Chibumi’ with Naeko Seragaki. All the expected songs are present and very correct. Listening to these songs is a great reminder of Oshiro’s importance as an interpreter of Okinawan songs and a testament to the longevity of the songs themselves.

Kana Uta is released by Nihon Dento Bunka Shinko Zaidan (Japan Traditional Cultures Foundation) and is distributed by JVC Kenwood Victor Entertainment.









Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Albums

3 Comments on “Misako Oshiro: Kana Uta”

  1. Izumi Nishi Says:

    Reading through what you say above, I have decided to purchase this album.
    I was asked to deliver a talk on “the Power of Okinaw(an) music” at Shuri-higashi High School in November. I will first introduce to them a number of roots music in different areas; Celt, America,… and then Okinawan music as roots music. I am excited about being given this occasion; especially so because this is going to be a 2 hour talk. I usually feel it’s lacking of time to introduce the music in Okinawa within one hour and a half.
    I will certainly play one of the songs by Rayna Gellert and Hurray for the Riff Raff among others.

    • I’m sure you will like the Oshiro album. The talk you are giving sounds very interesting – not just because of its Okinawan content but also the introduction of American and other roots music.

      • Izumi Nishi Says:

        I also give high school students a talk on some other topics like linguistics.
        The best thing with the topic of roots music is nonetheless to be able to use video materials such as *Transatlantic Sessions 3″ for introducing Celt music and its influence on and interaction with American music, and also interaction with Okinawa: Donal Lunny and others’ *Henoko Dugong*.
        The thing is that not so many high schools have invited me for this topic, though.

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