Okinawa’s Kohaku Utagassen

Okinawa has its own unique version of Japan’s annual New Year extravaganza Kohaku Utagassen (Red and White Song Battle) in which two teams of male and female singers compete against each other in front of a television audience. Okinawa’s RBC recorded the show Shinshun Minyo Kohaku Utagassen yesterday at their studios in Naha and I was among the audience members. The show will be broadcast by RBC TV on New Year’s Day at 15:00.

Mika Uchizato, Mayumi Yamakawa, Toru Yonaha and Takayuki Oshiro backstage yesterday

Mika Uchizato, Mayumi Yamakawa, Toru Yonaha and Takayuki Oshiro backstage yesterday

This is a great chance to see lots of the top names of Okinawan traditional song gathered together on stage. Those performing yesterday included Yaeyama’s Tetsuhiro Daiku, veteran women’s group Deigo Musume, Mika Uchizato from Minami Daito, Yoriko Ganeko, Toru Yonaha, Keiko Kinjo, Hirokazu Matsuda, Mayumi Yamakawa, Kazumi Tamaki, and newcomer Takayuki Oshiro. There were also special duets by Minoru Kinjo and Yuki Yamazato, and by Seibun Tokuhara and Misako Oshiro. The teams were captained by singers Aiko Yohen and Shuken Maekawa.

Deigo Musume with Takayuki Oshiro

Deigo Musume with Takayuki Oshiro

The recording went on for around three hours including a ten minute break and one or two unscheduled stops along the way for technical mishaps and, dare it be said, several false starts by one of the singers. It would be too much of a spoiler to reveal which team of singers were judged to be the winners but the outstanding individual performances for me were Mika Uchizato’s ‘Abayoi’, the songs by Keiko Kinjo and Yoriko Ganeko, and Tetsuhiro Daiku’s ‘Yaeyama Sodachi’. If you are living in Okinawa you can watch the whole show on 1st January with a glass or two of Orion beer.

Explore posts in the same categories: Live in Okinawa

4 Comments on “Okinawa’s Kohaku Utagassen”

  1. Gary Says:

    Thank you for your posting. Is there a way to buy DVD of program to include old ones

  2. Gary Williams Says:

    I thought the Okinawa Version of the Red White show was broadcasted on Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year)? I remember going to my Mother-in-law’s house in Ginoza-San Okinawa to celebrate Lunar New Year and later we would watch the RBC’s Okinawa Kohaku Uta Gassen on her television. This year’s should mark the 56th Anniversary of the Okinawa Red and White Show. Portions of one of the shows can be seen on Youtube. Ken-Chan is performing along with Begin.

    • Thanks and Happy New Year! The Okinawa version of the show was broadcast yesterday (1st January) in the afternoon on RBC. It may be that it will be repeated at Chinese New Year.

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