jump to navigation

Ideal Roommates May 28, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Language, Music.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

During our last week, Jojo and I filmed a music video for his band Please Quiet Ourselves. Jojo toted those masks around to Nakagusuku Castle, Kogen Hotel, Naha, and all over Okinawa City so we could present to you this:

A cab driver brought Jojo to tears by teaching him this Okinawan proverb: ichariba chode. Once we meet, we are brothers and sisters. We felt that strongly in Okinawa, being so quickly taken in by friends, and friends of friends of friends.This fraternal philosophy inspired the video.

Advertisements

Taco Rice TV Stars May 27, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink, Photos.
Tags: , , , , ,
2 comments

I saved probably the weirdest thing we took part in until now: Jojo, Sigrunn and I appeared on Japanese national television.

(more…)

Life As an Observer May 26, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts.
Tags: , , , ,
6 comments

While in Okinawa, I got in the habit of always carrying a camera, an audio recorder and a notebook. Even a 10-minute trip to the convenience store usually warranted something worth documenting. I became hyper-aware of unfamiliar surroundings and sensations, wanting to share everything “strange” with people back home.

So, I have hundreds of photos of plants, architecture, artwork and geography. I have dozens of recordings of the monorail, the beach, the bugs, the birds and the music. I have pages of notes of history lessons and song analyses.

But, as much as all those have taught me about Okinawa, it taught me that there are things worth documenting anywhere in the world — including, most importantly, at home. We get so used to our everyday surroundings that we forget they might not be “everyday” to someone else.

So pay attention! Look up and around you when you’re walking instead of down at the ground! Take those earbuds out of your ears! Take your time eating! Slow down and enjoy everything!

This will sound dumb, but it really bothered me that I couldn’t record smells in Okinawa — sweet-smelling dusk air, salt that smelled more like the ocean than the ocean smells like the ocean, peculiarly good-smelling bathrooms. But we have equally fascinating scents at home: railroad tracks, the Rainbo Bread factory by my house, the kettle corn vendor at the Davis Farmers’ Market.

As a full-time observer, I learned so much about the island, but I learned more about how to enjoy day-to-day life. I hope you can take some of that away too.

“World Music” Boom May 7, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Language, Music.
Tags: , , , , ,
3 comments

According to some experts, the surge of worldwide interest in Okinawan music stems from this song. The Boom is a mainland Japanese band, but the singer wrote “Shima Uta” after visiting Okinawa, and incorporated sanshin hooks and Hogen phrases. The Hogen title literally means “island music,” and the song is meant to capture the post-war island spirit.

According to Wikipedia, many others have covered this song, including … wait for it … ANDREW W.K.

Urasoe Bells May 4, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Music, Photos.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

I just found another citywide PA recording from Urasoe. I think it was marking the noon or 1 o’clock hour. You’ll get an idea of how serene the city could feel from our tatami mat apartment bedrooms, until the traffic light turned green (“blue”) on the major highway right below.

“Manhole”?! Oh. May 2, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts, Photos.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
2 comments

When my mom first returned to Okinawa five years ago, she took photos of a bunch of manhole covers. They have really unique designs, often denoting a particular neighborhood or district. I thought I better continue the project:

Tonaki Island

Sashiki

Uruma

Nakagusuku

And my mom’s finished product

A Sanshin Social May 2, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Music.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Here’s Kinjo-san and one of his masters students at our last lesson with him. Let the minor imperfections in this song remind that most people in Okinawa learn and play music simply for the joy of it — spending time with friends, sipping tea between songs, and making beautiful sounds, not making money.

Notice the Little Mermaid sanshin up on the wall?