Archive for the ‘Okinawa Overseas’ category

London Okinawa Day 2015

May 29, 2015

The annual Okinawa Day will be held on Saturday 20th June this year. Admission is free and the event will take place from 10:00~18:00 at Spitalfields, London E1. The event attracted 8,000 people last year. The organising committee’s aim is to introduce Okinawan culture further in the UK and enrich the existing relationship between the UK and Okinawa which has been established through previous Okinawa Day events.

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The thriving London Okinawa Sanshinkai is also prominent in promoting the music side of things and will no doubt be showing off their skills again. This year it is hoped to include Ryukyu music and Eisa dance as well as performing arts workshops by individuals and groups from the UK and Okinawa. There will also be karate demonstrations and arts and crafts stalls from Okinawa plus food and drinks, including the inevitable awamori.

Further details are on the Okinawa Day 2015 website where there is also a video of some highlights from last year’s event:

http://www.okinawaday.org.uk

 

 

 

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Okinawa-Asia Music Network Meeting 2015

February 9, 2015

The first Okinawa-Asia Music Network Meeting was held at Tenbusu Hall in Naha yesterday. The first part of the meeting was a briefing session in which last year’s presentation of ‘Music from Okinawa’ at WOMEX (World Music Expo) in Spain was reported on and discussed. The duo Sakishima Meeting who performed a showcase in Spain also talked about their experiences at the event. There was a speech from London-based arts manager and producer Akiko Yanagisawa who focused on ways to promote Okinawan music overseas.

This theme was taken up again in the second half which featured a discussion with three guests from South Korea and China who are all involved in the organisation of world music festivals in their own countries. There was also live music with a short performance by Kazutoshi Matsuda who was one of the artists featured on the Music from Okinawa CD presented at WOMEX last year. Some of the other artists from the CD were also at the meeting. I managed to talk with Isamu Shimoji of Sakishima Meeting during a break in the proceedings before he and Yukito Ara hastened to another venue in Naha where they were scheduled to give a live show later in the day.

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Some of the discussion at the meeting focused on the business side of promoting Okinawan music overseas; on the possibility of further participation at WOMEX events; and the desirability for Okinawa to host its own world music festival in order to become a hub for networking and spreading Okinawan music to the rest of Asia and the world. I was impressed by the talk given by Wei Gao from China who is an organiser of the annual Sound of the Xity festival in Beijing which is committed to the joint development of the Chinese and Western music industries.

Even more interesting was the presentation by Kim Min of Sonic Islands who talked about her work in organising the Ulsan World Music Festival in Korea. In her concluding remarks she made the important point that traditional music is something that needs to be constantly revitalised or else it just becomes like an exhibit in a museum. On the other hand, she stressed that it is equally important not to slavishly copy the big stars seen on television but to find one’s own musical identity sincerely. She also made the observation that WOMEX itself should not necessarily be held in such great awe and is just one method of networking.

Sakishima Meeting: Isamu Shimoji & Yukito Ara

Sakishima Meeting: Isamu Shimoji & Yukito Ara

Some of those who participated by asking questions seemed unaware that Okinawan music is really not such a big secret nowadays. In fact, it has been featured regularly for many years in magazines such as the UK’s fRoots and Songlines and has loyal followings in many parts of the world. With the growth of the internet and new ways of listening to music it has now become more accessible than ever. It could be argued that even the term ‘world music’ is becoming obsolete and has already served its purpose as a marketing tool for what fRoots calls ‘local music from out there’.

Sakishima Meeting at WOMEX

October 27, 2014

Music from Okinawa was successfully introduced at last week’s Womex event in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. As well as the presentation of a new CD compilation of music from the Ryukyu Islands there was a live performance by Sakishima Meeting (Yukito Ara and Isamu Shimoji).

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Sakishima Meeting at Womex last week

Sakishima Meeting at Womex last week

The duo were also featured in a special World on 3 programme from Womex broadcast on BBC Radio. They played two songs for the show and Isamu Shimoji was interviewed by presenter Mary Ann Kennedy. The show can be listened to for the next four weeks through this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04lpxrk

 

 

 

 

Music from Okinawa at WOMEX

October 16, 2014

A reminder for anyone in Galicia, Spain next week that the annual WOMEX (World Music Expo) is being held in Santiago de Compostela from the 22nd to 26th. As mentioned previously it will include a stand for Okinawa and there will be a live performance by Sakishima Meeting (Yukito Ara and Isamu Shimoji). An English booklet introducing Okinawa and some of its musicians has been produced for the event along with a special 16 track compilation CD of Music from Okinawa 2014.

The English booklet and Music from Okinawa CD ready for WOMEX.

The English booklet and Music from Okinawa CD are ready for WOMEX

As well as a song from Sakishima Meeting (‘Tome Dome’ from the film Karakara) the CD includes artists such as Kazutoshi Matsuda, Chihiro Kamiya, Tatsumi Chibana and Ryukyu Chimdon Gakudan alongside others both familiar and not so well-known. The music spans several different genres and the invitation to apply for inclusion on the CD was open to anyone resident on these islands, not just to Okinawan musicians. I know this only too well as I was asked to be one of the judges to choose the artists and tracks. As expected, this turned out to be an extremely difficult but fascinating task.

Ryuji Noda (Sakurazaka Theatre) and Sachiyo Tsurumi (Okinawa Arts Council) who will represent Okinawa at WOMEX

Ryuji Noda (Sakurazaka Theatre) and Sachiyo Tsurumi (Okinawa Arts Council) who will represent Okinawa at WOMEX next week

There will be a presentation by Ryuji Noda at WOMEX as part of the Asian Pacific Network Session and he will introduce plans to further develop intercultural exchange through music.

http://www.womex.com

http://musicfromokinawa.com/

 

 

Awich and Okinawan rap

October 1, 2014

The rapper, poet and DJ known as Awich (Akiko Urasaki) has been featured here before, most recently for her collaboration with Okinawan pop singer Manami on one of this year’s most interesting CD releases. She has just returned from a trip to New York and is featured in the new issue of the magazine Vogue.

Awich

Awich

In the Vogue interview she describes growing up in Okinawa and her discovery of rap. She explains that to her rap and the more traditional music of Okinawa are not all that different: “Okinawan songs are so hip-hop to me. They talk about struggle, they talk about the blues.” The online feature includes several videos of Awich and of other artists she recommends in Okinawa and is available here:

http://www.vogue.com/2083563/meet-akiko-rapper-learned-english-from-tupac-songs/

 

Okinawa at WOMEX 2014

September 20, 2014

WOMEX (World Music Expo) is celebrating its 20th anniversary with its 2014 event which takes place from 22nd to 26th October in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. Acknowledged as the most international hub of all music meetings worldwide, the trade fair brings together professionals from the worlds of folk, roots, ethnic and traditional music and there is a full programme of concerts, conferences and films. This year’s WOMEX will include a stand introducing music from Okinawa and there will be a live performance by the duo Sakishima Meeting (Yukito Ara and Isamu Shimoji).

Sakishima Meeting

Sakishima Meeting

There will also be a new compilation of music from Okinawa which is being distributed on a CD produced especially for the event. Earlier this summer I was asked to act as one of the judges to decide which artists and tracks should be included on this Music from Okinawa 2014 CD. In order to showcase a very wide range of music being produced on these islands, the organisers asked for submissions of new music for possible inclusion and more than 40 groups and artists responded.

I have therefore spent much of the past few weeks listening to lots of music in an attempt to make some near impossible choices and have been reminded of the enormous variety of sounds which are being produced around the Ryukyu Islands. The submissions ranged from classical Ryukyu court music to jazz, hardcore, electronica, salsa, island reggae and hip-hop as well as the familiar Okinawan minyo and shimauta.

The CD jacket features a bingata design by Makoto Otoguro

The CD jacket features a bingata design by Makoto Otoguro

The final decision has now been made and the 16 tracks chosen for inclusion on the CD are by the following artists:

Oomari, Sakishima Meeting, Kazutoshi Matsuda, Hirara, Ryukyu Koten Jyoshi Gakudan Uminai, Kachimba 4, Tatsumi Chibana, Maltese Rock, Nee-Nee, Noboro Sakurazaka, Piratsu Quartet, EPO, Ryukyu Chimdon Gakudan, Jun, Yusuke Maehana, Chihiro Kamiya.

Sakishima Meeting will also be in concert next week at the Sakurazaka Theatre in Naha. The concert is on Tuesday (23rd) which is a public holiday and it begins at 16:00.

www.womex.com

www.facebook.com/musicfromokinawa

 

Okinawa in Edinburgh

August 13, 2014

The first performance of Okinawan music and dance known as Bottle Mail from Okinawa took place at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe last Saturday. The 50 minute show by the ‘Ship of the Ryukyu’ collective is directed by Megumi Tomita and will be at the festival until the 24th August. Members of the cast and staff have also been out in the streets of Edinburgh to perform and promote the show.

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Bottle Mail from Okinawa was featured here in an earlier post. More details can be found at the Ship of the Ryukyu website:

http://www.shipoftheryukyu.com/bottle-mail.php