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Last Night March 27, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Photos.
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Tonight’s our last night in Urasoe, and our last night here at JSL.

Tomorrow begins the third leg of our trip: The Unknown. With no specifics in mind, we’ll be around Naha and Okinawa City and maybe a couple other little towns for all of April, trying to meet musicians and other people of interest.

Then in May we’ll hopefully go to Tokyo to hang out with Sigrunn, who may as well be our cousin now too. And on May 10, just as our visitors’ visas expire, we shall return home, triumphant and broke.


The Koza Riot March 20, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in History, Music.
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Ryukyu Underground was the first CD of Okinawan electronic music I found, in the discount bin at Armadillo Music in Davis, oddly enough. My favorite song on it is called “Koza Riot,” which borrows a sanshin loop from a traditional song.

Today at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, I learned about the song’s namesake event. Take a listen and read on.

Following World War II, U.S. military forces agreed in 1952 to end their occupation of Japan under a condition that they retain control of Okinawa for the next 20 years. Left tattered after a horrific invasion that destroyed the island and killed over 100,000 civilians, Okinawa had no choice but to comply.

They shared the island with the Americans relatively cooperatively — despite hundreds of cases of rape, child abuse, homicide, robbery and hit-and-runs — until Dec. 20, 1970. On that night, Oki-U.S. tensions came to a head.

An American officer caused a traffic accident that injured an Okinawan man. Witnesses led to arguments, which led to crowds, which led to firing warning shots, which led to the Koza Riot. Over 700 fed-up Okinawans gathered, overturning and torching police cars, breaking into Kadena Air Force Base, beating up military men, throwing bottles and Molotov cocktails, and dancing traditional folk dances, leaving many injured and arrested.

In 1972, Okinawa was finally reverted to Japanese control, though with several U.S. bases remaining indefinitely. While crimes against Okinawans still occur every year, the island has remained more or less peaceful since that night — but the Koza Riot will always stand for the discrimination that occurs here.

Okinawa City International Festival February 21, 2010

Posted by Jojo in Music, Photos.
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Yesterday I played my first show in Okinawa. The 20th “Annyal” Okinawa City International Festival was one of my best-attended gigs yet, topping most of the shows my band played at South By Southwest music festival in Austin.

The whole experience was pretty surreal since no one really understood what I was saying or singing about, but comforting since they didn’t notice when I messed up. It was awesome to say the least! I also got paid ¥3,000.

Most of the people there actually came to see What Up Dansu Kuru. They were great.

Afterward we all headed over to Michiko’s parents’ house for lunch and I played another show for her extended family in their front yard. Truly the best show ever! I offered all of the kiddies free guitar lessons, but they were all shy and only one kid came up and tried. To be fair, I would think some foreigner with a pink guitar was pretty weird, too.