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Ideal Roommates May 28, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Language, Music.
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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.

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A Sanshin Social May 2, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Music.
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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?

Oki City’s Haunted Graffiti April 23, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts, Photos.
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The graffiti at the Kogen Hotel deserves a post all its own. Enjoy!


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Tour of the Haunted Brothel April 23, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in History, Photos.
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So that you don’t have to risk being haunted by Okinawan ghosts, we at oki yo! have put our spiritual well-being at stake to give you a virtual tour of the infamous, possibly former mega-brothel, Kogen Hotel.

It starts at Nakagusuku Castle, the ruins left of a 600-year-old fortress in Okinawa City. It’s a peaceful spot with a panoramic view of the island.

But the real ruins are just across a field, over there. (This photo is a little sneak peak of the upcoming Please Quiet Ourselves music video.)

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Sanshin Lesson #3 April 20, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Language, Music.
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Jojo and I attended Kinjo-sensei’s sanshin lesson in Okinawa City last week. We fumbled through a couple of classical songs (clarification: I fumbled, Jojo really read the music) while the other, far more experienced students patiently waited. Then they busted out this jam:

Interesting sanshin facts:

  • sanshin literally translates to “three strings”
  • they are traditionally covered with python snake skin
  • the low string is known as the male string, and the high the female
  • the head of the instrument is “sky” (but, you know, in Japanese), and the taiko body is “earth”
  • the hogen lyrics of “Kagiyadefu” (which Jojo wrote about last week) translate roughly to: “How can I express the joy of this morning? I was a wilting flower, then the dew touched me and I was revitalized.”

There’s a professor at San Francisco State named Wesley Uenten who teaches Okinawan culture and sanshin. After hearing so much slow, sad sanshin music, I have to remember how Wesley explained Okinawa music:

Okinawans are capable of hating and loving passionately — always a mix of extremes — so even joyous songs sound somber.

More Found Sound April 14, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Music.
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Here is today’s evening announcement in Kaiho, Okinawa City, out on a little probably-man-made island of industrial zone and park.

I ♥ Street Art April 14, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Other Arts.
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This guy shows up a lot.

Filipino Soul Food April 14, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink.
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People keep telling us that Filipinos are the largest minority on Okinawa. This was hard to believe since we never saw any Filipino restaurants, but yesterday in Koza Music Town we found four in a three-block radius!

We enjoyed chicken adobo and lumpia while watching a Filipino William Shatner and a Filipina Salma Hayek judge “Pilipinas Got Talent.”

Exploring Okinawa City April 13, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Photos.
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Now we’re staying in Okinawa City, the second biggest and most diverse city. The first thing we did was climb up this big hill to get the lay of the land.

And then we slid down it.

It’s a pretty dense area, but it’s also flecked with these beautiful green parks and little community and private garden plots.

Several busy highways run through here, so we like to stick to the side streets.

In other news, that infamous island humidity thing is starting to kick in.

Slow Jams April 12, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Music.
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Tonight Michiko-san took us to a sanshin and koto concert in Okinawa City. Most of the songs in the program were classical court music: very dignified, very precise, very slow. Since I’ve been sharing a lot of sanshin music, here’s a koto piece to mix it up. And it’s all women!

And here’s a koto and sanshin duet. The male singer/sanshin player kept his eyes forward the whole time, never looking down to check his fingers. I was quite impressed with both of them.

Upbeat music to come!