YUI-Vibes from Southern Islands- Okinawan Traditional and Folk music and dance concerts tour in Middle East

YUI-Vibes from Southern Islands-
	  Okinawan Traditional and Folk music and dance concerts tour in Middle East

Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture, is comprised of the numerous islands of the Okinawa archipelago and the Yaeyama Islands. It is home to many forms of music and dance, almost all of which use the three-stringed sanshin lute for accompaniment. Built on a unique Okinawan musical scale and overflowing with passionate south-island emotion, the popular Okinawan and Yaeyama folk songs on this program have been pleasantly chosen to introduce a diverse of Japanese culture to people in Syria, Jordan and Yemen. "YUI" is derived from the word "yuimaaru" in Okinawan dialect. "YUI" literally means "to tie" or "to connect" and represents the idea that people help each other. Under the spirit of yuimaaru, this program may hope to provide an opportunity for thinking about and exchanging deeper understandings between Japan and Middle Eastern countries.
This program will take part in the Music month of the Arab Capital of Culture (Damascus), Amman Summer Festival (Amman), Sana'a Summer Festival (Sana'a).

Tour Schedule:

July 23 - August 3, 2008

Syria July 23, 2008 Dummer Cultural Complex, Damascus
July 24, 2008 Dummer Cultural Complex, Damascus
July 26, 2008 Kevork Yessayan Hall, Aleppo
Jordan July 29, 2008 Hussein Cultural Center, Amman
July 31, 2008 Hussein Park, Amman
Yemen August 2, 2008 Opening mini concert of "Japan Week", Ambassador Residence of Japan, Sana'a
August 3, 2008Sana'a Cultural Center, Sana'a


Lineup of songs:

Basinutourui-bushi Basinutourui-bushi written in Japanese charactersYaeyama Folk Song
One of the most famous Yaeyama folk songs, which is often sung at weddings and other auspicious occasions. Taking as its subject the Crested Serpent Eagle that inhabits on Ishigaki and Iriomote Island, the lyric describes how an eagle chick with beautiful feathers hatched in a nest built in a large tree deep in the mountains, and how it took flight early on New Year's morning toward the sun in the eastern sky.

Densaa-bushi Densaa-bushi  written in Japanese characters Yaeyama Folk Song
"Please listen to my heartfelt song, which I sing in the Densaa style sung since ancient times. The unity of the islands and peace in the family home are one and the same. Like a captain and his crew, parents and children must cooperate" Originally an instructional song reputedly composed by government officials to encourage and guide islanders who were forced to leave their families and lovers to relocate to Iriomote Island, various new lyrics have been penned for this tune, making it one of Yaeyama's best-loved folk songs.

Hanjo-bushi Hanjo-bushi written in Japanese characters Yaeyama Folk Song
This song expresses the wealthy state of Sakieda-village of Ishigaki-island, where the people work lively in the farm. Made around 1850, this song is also sung Sakieda's prosperity and as a praise of the land, and generally at the quick pitch. Afar from Yaeyama islands, the mixture of the dialects of Okinawa mainland which is a center of Ryukyuan Kingdom is contained in this song lyric, that concerns the unique relationship between Yaeyama and Ryukyuan Kingdom. This auspicious song is well-beloved among people, therefore, may also present for people in Arab to wish the best and happiness.

Kanayoo (Oh, You Whom I Love) Kanayoo  written in Japanese charactersOkinawan Folk Song
This is a standard song belonging to the zo-odori genre of up-tempo dance pieces rooted in the daily life of ordinary people and filled with many folk songs. Addressed to a lover, it begins: "Oh you whom I love, when I think of you I can't stay quietly at home?" The cheerful tone makes this one of the most popular of Okinawan folk songs.

Shima-no-hito-yo (Oh, Islanders) Shima-no-hito-yo  written in Japanese characters
Music and lyric by IKEDA Suguru
Born and raised on Iriomote Island, Ikeda wrote this song as a special gift to islanders who have left there homes yet still hold the islands in their hearts. It has been used in television commercials and other contexts, making it one of the foremost examples of modern Okinawan song.

Artist Biographies:

IKEDA Suguru

Vocals, Sanshin lute


Photo of IKEDA Suguru Born in 1979 in the tiny village of Funauki (population 42) on the Okinawan island of Iriomote. An avid baseball player while growing up, he was the pitcher for the Okinawa Suisan High School team. When he was 19, he participated in the island summer art festival, which got him started on his professional path as a musician. Ikeda's CD debut came in 2000 with the release of Shima no Hito Yo (Oh, Islanders), which drew attention as the background music for television weather reports. His national debut came in 2005 with the release of another CD, Kokoro Iro (Color of the Heart). To date, Ikeda has issued seven CDs, including a collection of Yaeyama folk songs. Many of his songs have been used in television commercials and are widely loved in his native Okinawa, where he is currently based. He is active as a performer throughout Japan and has branched out into other fields as a radio personality, lecturer, author and actor (playing the lead role in the film titled "Endo no Hana," literally means pea flowers). As a popular singer, Ikeda has become an essential performer at music festivals, Okinawan music concerts and other events held both inside and outside of Okinawa. He is one of the most celebrated performers of Okinawan music in his generation.


Shimadaiko drum and hayashi accompaniment

Photo of NAKASONE Satoshi  Raised in Shiraho on Ishigaki Island, Nakasone is widely active both as a traditional performer of shimadaiko drum for classical Yaeyama music and folk songs, as well as tradition-based drumming for rock bands. Working with ARA Yukito, one of Okinawa's most prominent singers of island songs, he is a member of the popular band, Parsha Club.

Nakasone's unique drumming style and powerful stage presence have made him a sought-after player among many musicians and a major artist on the Okinawan music scene. He has participated in overseas tours as well, including one to China and Mongolia sponsored by the Japan Foundation.


Vocals, sanshin lute, koto zither, ryuteki flute


Photo of YAMAUCHI MasayaBorn in Okinawa in 1973, Yamauchi began his musical studies as a fifth grader under the tutelage of SHIMABUKURO Eiji. In his third year in middle school, he won first prize in the New Artist category for sanshin performance in the Ryukyu Shimpo Classical Arts Contest, going on to win the grand prize for the contest as a whole when he was 20.

Currently, Yamauchi is a certified teacher of the Nomura School Music Association and the Tansui School Preservation Society for Ryukyu Classical Music. He works as a part-time lecturer at Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, and teaches beginners at culture centers and other venues, while maintaining an active performance schedule in Okinawa, throughout Japan and overseas.


Ryukyuan dance

Photo of SHIDA Maki

SHIDA is the second-generation head of the Choyo School of Ryukyuan Dance and carries on the activities of the Okinawa Traditional Dance Preservation Society. At age three, she began training with her mother, Shida Fusako, a Ryukyuan dancer who has been designated an Important Intangible Cultural Asset of Okinawa Prefecture in the field of traditional Okinawan dance. Graduating from Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts in 1994 with a major in Ryukyuan Theatrical Performance, she won both the Grand Prix in the dance category and the Excellence Award at the Okinawa Times Arts Contest in the drum category the same year. In 1996 she completed her Masters degree, and in 1998 a post-graduate course in musicology at Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts. Since then, she has won many awards in major contests and been active as a choreographer. In 2005, Shida won the New Artist award in the 60th Arts Festival sponsored by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs.

Currently, Shida is actively pursuing collaborative projects, including opera. Working with other musicians, she seeks a fusion of Ryukyuan dance (primarily classical dance) with other performance genres. She has also participated in many overseas performances sponsored by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Okinawa Prefecture, and the Japan Foundation.

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