Archive for the ‘Live in Okinawa’ category

Platy & Chihiro

February 11, 2023

The singer Chihiro Kamiya, originally from Tsuken island off the east coast of Okinawa, has developed into one of the very best performers of Okinawan music and is equally at home with both traditional and original songs. Her last album Utayui was my album of the year in 2021.

Back in 2006 she joined Okinawan reggae and hip-hop pair U-Dou & Platy on a recording of Misako Koja’s much celebrated ‘Warabi Gami’. The song appeared on U-Dou & Platy’s album Buss Up. The album also contained the duo’s updated version of ‘Haisai Ojisan’ and their own humorously observant ‘Uchinanchu in Tokyo’.

U-Dou & Platy finally called it a day after more than two decades of making music to go on to solo work, and Platy is getting together again with Chihiro, this time for a live show at Tenbusu Hall in Naha that should be well worth catching. I’m not sure exactly what to expect from Platy but Chihiro is such a brightly talented and open-minded artist that any collaboration she is involved with promises to be exciting.

In fact, this is just the latest in a series of concerts at Tenbusu Hall where the venue has been staging regular Okinawan music and performing arts events on Thursday evenings at very affordable prices. Tenbusu Hall is part of the Tenbusu culture and information centre on Kokusai-dori in the heart of Naha’s entertainment district.

Platy & Chihiro’s live show is on Thursday 16th March starting at 19:00. Tickets are priced at only 1,500 yen with discounts for school students.


Koza Uta Ashibi

October 13, 2022

I don’t often preview upcoming concerts these days but this one just has to be mentioned. Koza Uta Ashibi is a live music event coming to Okinawa next month and is produced by Campus Records. It is notable for its very enticing line-up of Ryukyu singers and musicians.

The concert takes place in the afternoon (it starts at 14:00) at Okinawa Shimin Sho-Gekijo Ashibina on Sunday 6th November. Advance tickets are very reasonably priced at 2,000 yen and are available from Campus Records and other venues.

Among those appearing are the veteran Seishin Taba whose double album retrospective was reviewed here this year, and Kazutoshi Matsuda who is one of the outstanding musicians on the Okinawan scene. Emiko Shimabukuro, who recorded as part of Unaigumi a few years ago, will also perform.

Another to look out for is Yaese singer Narise Arakaki whose debut album was one of my favourites of the year in 2020. Others include the duo Akamami, and the group Champloo Geinodan with well-known singer and sanshin player Hajime Nakasone.

Camp Talganie Soundscape

October 4, 2021

A Soundscape Okinawa pre-event took place yesterday in the grounds and building of Camp Talganie, a small museum of contemporary art in a picturesque setting in Komesu, Itoman.

The venue is within walking distance of my home, and I took these photos yesterday. The relaxed and enjoyable pre-event was well attended by audience and participants alike on a very warm and sunny afternoon:

This pre-event was for the main Soundscape Okinawa. Last year’s Soundscape was also previewed on the Power of Okinawa blog and the next one will be held at the same ancient Ryukyu site of Itokazu Castle in Tamagusuku, Nanjo. The website information states:

“Soundscape Okinawa adds a layer of sound to the scenic beauty of a traditional Gusuku site… A mixture of concert and ‘exhibition of sounds’, musicians create a soundscape that is ‘in tune’ with a location of stunning beauty, while providing the audience with a new kind of experience in which the amalgamation of landscape and soundscape construct a different notion of environment.”

The Soundscape Okinawa main event will be on the 20th and 21st November. Further details in English, including a video of what to expect, are to be found here:

Soundscape Okinawa

November 23, 2020

Soundscape Okinawa is an unusual and adventurous production featuring music and sounds at the ancient Ryukyu site of Itokazu Castle in Tamagusuku, Nanjo, in the south-east of Okinawa. The event takes place on the 5th and 6th December from 13:00 until 17:00 each day with the entrance open at 12:00.

Around ten musicians will be taking part and the one most familiar to Power of Okinawa readers is singer and sanshin player Mutsumi Aragaki. However, a wide variety of disparate sounds will be represented and among other musicians will be Jujumo (vocal and guitar), Remi Uehara (cello), Yumi Kano (crystal bowl), and Mutsuko Taira (marimba).

It is planned to present a mixture of concert and ‘exhibition of sounds’ inspired by the location. The Soundscape Okinawa website adds: “Musicians are distributed around the wide area of the gusuku, each creating a distinct sound conceived from a dialogue with their surroundings and their peer musicians. The audience moves freely through a scenery of sounds and spatial situations while constantly assembling and reassembling the sound to create their very own soundscape.”

Further details in English including how to buy tickets can be found here:

There is also a preview video of what to expect:

Sakurazaka Asylum 2020

February 13, 2020

The annual Sakurazaka Asylum festival comes to Okinawa next week in conjunction with the Trans Asia Music Meeting. Advertised as a ‘Music & Art Weekend’, numerous music showcases will take place at venues in and around Naha’s Sakurazaka Theatre on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd February.

As before, the Asylum brings together a wide variety of musicians from Okinawa, Asia and further afield with the focus mainly on indie rather than roots music. For those wanting a taste of Okinawan roots as well there is another appearance from Sakishima Meeting pair Yukito Ara & Isamu Shimoji.

Among the overseas artists are Basque electric guitar-based rock band Willis Drummond. The trio sing in the Basque language and have just released their 6th studio album. They will be performing on Saturday (17:00) at Sakurazaka Theatre, Hall A. Before that they are touring mainland Japan and will also play in Koza, Okinawa on the 21st.  Their tour then continues in Australia, Tahiti, and Spain.

Basque band Willis Drummond

Isamu Shimoji & Yukito Ara of Sakishima Meeting

It should also be worth seeing Fanel the project by Toulouse-born French singer Bera who mixes Asian and European music with electronics. Her album Human was reviewed here last year. Fanel will play shows on both days. Another overseas musician delving into pop and electronica is the singer Pyra from Thailand, and on Sunday there will no doubt be a big audience for Japan’s Minyo Crusaders with their strikingly original updates of traditional Japanese songs.

Mention must also be made of Okinawa’s Harahells. The drums and guitar duo played last year at a tiny venue down the street, but their increasing popularity means they will be at the main theatre this time, at Hall B on Saturday at 18:45. Their set (like many others) will be just 40 minutes but promises to be one of the most fun if last year’s is anything to go by.

These are just some of my own picks but there are many other musicians to discover and full details of all the artists are on the website below, together with times and venues. Advance tickets are 7,000 yen for both days and 4,000 for a one-day pass. Tickets for the Trans Asia Music Meeting networking event are sold separately.

Sakurazaka Asylum in Naha

February 10, 2019

The Sakurazaka Asylum 2019 festival began yesterday in and around Naha’s Sakurazaka Theatre. The festival is held alongside the Trans Asia Music Meeting and both events continue today. These pictures show just some of the many musicians who impressed us on the first day of the festival yesterday.

The band Harukakanata from Chiba, Japan

Ishigaki singer-songwriter tidanomiyuki

South Korean duo Laybricks

Drummer Hyejin Yu from Laybricks

With Kwangmin Seo and Hyejin Yu of Laybricks after their show

The band lightcraft from Jakarta, Indonesia


Okinawa’s Harahells

Drummer and vocalist Ramen Maru of Harahells


Sakurazaka Asylum 2019

February 1, 2019

The annual Sakurazaka Asylum, a festival of music and art, takes place next week on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th February. As previously, many live shows and events are held not just at the main venue of Sakurazaka Theatre in Naha but also in the surrounding live houses, cafes and bars. The aim of the festival is “to create a place where various cultures interact and new inspiration is born”.

The large number of artists taking part come from Japan and other parts of Asia as well as from Okinawa. The focus is on Asian indie bands and singers rather than on roots music. Some of the musicians from Okinawa are already very familiar faces here and there are surely not many in Okinawa who haven’t already seen the likes of Kachimba4 and Maltese Rock. For those interested in more traditional Okinawan music there will be a performance by Miyako Island singer Hirara.

Singer-songwriter tidanomiyuki is one of the most interesting of the Okinawan contingent and she will play on the Saturday afternoon. Among those invited from overseas is the exciting Korean guitar and drums duo Laybricks and they will perform at different venues on both days of the festival.


Also appearing on both days are Indonesian dream-pop and indie rock band lightcraft who will be here for the first time. Another guitar and drums pair worth looking out for are Harahells. These young women from Okinawa sing quirky songs about food and claim to be better at eating than music.

Full details of all the artists and a schedule of when and where they are playing can be found on the Sakurazaka Asylum website. The festival coincides as usual with the Trans Asia Music Meeting which is held at the same main venue from the 8th to the 10th. For this networking event there will be presentations by music professionals from Japan, South Korea, China, Mongolia, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and India.

Yoko Ishikawa – Live in Naha

November 17, 2018

Iheya Island singer and sanshin player Yoko Ishikawa released her solo debut album in September. The album Shami No Yorokobi was reviewed on this blog. Unfortunately her concert in Okinawa to promote the new release had to be postponed because of the typhoon that hit the island at that time. It has now been rearranged for next Saturday 24th November.

Yoko Ishikawa

Owing to the great interest in this concert it will now take place at the larger Hall A at Sakurazaka Theatre in Naha starting at 18:30. Ishikawa will be joined by the musicians who played on her album and these include Setsuko Kikuyama and Keiko Kinjo. It promises to be a rewarding night at last for one of Okinawa’s brightest young talents.

Tubarama Taikai in Itoman

October 28, 2018

The 7th Itoman Tubarama Taikai was held yesterday. The contest to find the best singer of the traditional Yaeyama song ‘Tubarama’ was attended by 1,500 people and there were 23 singers in competition. Yaeyama singer Tetsuhiro Daiku was one of the judges. Daiku and Okinawa’s Hajime Nakasone also sang for the audience. The eventual winner was a singer and sanshin player from Ishigaki Island, Kyohei Matsukawa. Below are some photos taken last night.

Tubarama Taikai winner Kyohei Matsukawa (above left).

Trad.Attack! in Okinawa

October 9, 2018

Estonian band Trad.Attack! will play a concert this week in Naha, Okinawa as part of their “Shimmer Gold” Tour 2018. Comprising members Sandra Vabarna, Jaimar Vabarna, and Tõnu Tubli, the trio have released two albums and toured in 35 countries over the past four years.

Their mix of traditional Estonian songs and modern sounds is played on 12-string guitar, percussion, bagpipes and whistles. They manage to create a big sound with acoustic instruments and are inspired by archival recordings of the old folk singers. As their website says, these are: “Exciting Estonian sounds in which the old and new collide and spark”.

The concert starts at 17:00 on Saturday 13th October at Sakurazaka Theatre (Hall A). Trad.Attack! will be supported by their guests the Okinawan band Maltese Rock.