Okinawan musician performs in the United States
November 12, 2012 Sadao Tome Correspondent of Ryukyu Shimpo
Takane Kochihira, an Okinawan sanshin player, songwriter and Okinawan cultural coordinator, has given live performances on the west coast of the United States. In a 10-day period, Kochihira performed at places such as Japanese-American senior citizens’ homes and at the Okinawa Association of America. Kochihira took with him a special sanshin featuring a minsah pattern, a traditional Okinawan textile, because the one he uses in Japan is a Yaeyamakuruchi, a top-of-the-line sanshin rarely available for purchase, and he did not want to damage it during his trip. Kochihira was very happy to have performed in the United States for the first time. Many young people have enjoyed his live performances.
Kochihira was born in Shuri, but both his parents are from Miyako-jima. He learned to play the sanshin from his grandfather when he was a child. When his relatives gathered during the New Year’s Holidays, Kochihira would always play the sanshin as an accompaniment to the kachashi dance, which always pleased his grandmother. She would give him 5000 yen in addition to New Year’s pocket-money. Kochihira later wrote a song entitled Oba No Uta (A Song for Grandma), devoted to her being strict but at the same time kind.
Kochihira moved to Tokyo when he was 20 years old. While working part-time, he wrote and composed songs, and gave live performances in schools and taverns.
When talking about his life in Tokyo, Kochihira said that if you have a good head on your shoulders, you will be capable of making a living wherever you go. He wrote a song entitled Torch of Teada, and has performed live in a total of 47 prefectures. In his shows, he played his own songs such as Nuchido Takara, Umuiuta and You and I walk on Route 58 along with Okinawan popular songs, and has always received a favorable reception.
Kochihira lives with his wife, who is from Kanagawa Prefecture, and their daughter in the Zushi district of Kanagawa. Kochihira said, “Although my family tomb is back in Okinawa, I want to work outside Okinawa to get the people of the main islands of Japan, and of the outside world, to know more about our prefecture. I’m also planning to give some shows in South America.” Kochihira came back to Japan after performing in Las Vegas, but next year he plans to perform in Hawaii and South American countries including Peru.
(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)
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