Kenji Yano: Sanshin Island Cafe

Kenji Yano from Osaka is an experienced musician, producer and arranger of Okinawan music whose many previous projects have included Surf Champlers and Sarabandge. He also has a hand in songs for commercials and so it’s likely that many in Okinawa will be familiar with something he’s done even if they aren’t always aware of it. Here he turns his attention to an album of instrumental versions of some of the best loved and most popular songs from around the Ryukyu Islands.


Alongside the traditional songs ‘Tinsagu nu Hana’, ‘Asadoya Yunta’ and ‘Juku nu Haru’ are some well-known modern songs that can already lay claim to be classics such as ‘Bashofu’ (Tsuneo Fukuhara), ‘Shimauta’ (Kazufumi Miyazawa), ‘Chisana Koi no Uta’ (Mongol 800), ‘Umi no Koe’ (Masaru Shimabukuro), and Shoukichi Kina’s ‘Haisai Ojisan’ and ‘Hana’.

It all might seem a bit too close to the ubiquitous ‘healing island’ music collections which are released so regularly for tourists coming to Okinawa but Yano adds an extra touch of quality to everything he does and this is no exception. The sanshin and acoustic guitar arrangements successfully create a relaxed taste of Hawaii as well as Okinawa on many of the songs.

Sanshin Island Cafe will be released by Nippon Columbia on 12th October. The album was produced by Naha’s Takara Records.

Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Albums

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