Sayuri Yoshinaga and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s emotional ode to Okinawa

Sayuri Yoshinaga and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s emotional ode to Okinawa

Ryuichi Sakamoto (center), Sayuri Yoshinaga (third from right) and Misako Koja (second from right) on stage after a performance of the Okinawan song Tinsagu nu Hana on Jan. 5, at the Okinawa Convention Center Theater in Ginowan City. Photographed by Moriaki Kise.

January 6, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

A charity concert was held on Jan. 5 by actress Sayuri Yoshinaga and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto at the Okinawa Convention Center Theater in Ginowan City.

Sakamoto’s sophisticated piano performance and Yoshinaga’s poetry reading, which spoke to the preciousness of peace, captivated the packed audience until the end.

In the first half of the concert, Sakamoto and Okinawan musician Misako Koja shared the stage.

Koja’s Uta Sanshin (Okinawan banjo and song) performance added intriguing textures to Sakamoto’s soft and gentle piano music, as the pair played Sakamoto’s 2015 piece, Miruku Yugafu – Undercooled.

The duo’s performance of the traditional Okinawan song Asadoya Yunta loosened up the audience, as the crowd clapped, chanted and whistled along.

Yoshinaga read 11 pieces of poetry in the latter half of the concert, including Peace Poem (Heiwa no Shi) written by local children.

The actress shared her thoughts on the Peace Poem and said, “People all over Japan have seen [the poetry] on TV, or heard it in on the radio.

I’m one of those people, and I’m always moved by it.”

Sakamoto played his piano in the background. He said of the concert, “I believe it’s my first time performing in Okinawa. My dream finally came true.”

The poem Exhibition Room by Hiroshi Hoshino was accompanied by somber piano music, as the actress read about the Himeyuri Peace Museum and empathized with the Himeyuri student nurses that lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa.

Sniffles could be heard from the audience by the time Yoshinaga began reading A Pray by Kenta Hiyane.

A former Himeyuri student nurse, Yoshiko Chinen, 91, was in the audience. Chinen said, “The performance fully conveyed Yoshinaga and Sakamoto’s feelings for Okinawa.

I was touched.” Gushikami Middle School eighth-grader Shugo Uejo, 15, who took the stage to sing the Okinawan song Tinsagu nu Hana, said with a sparkle in his eyes: “I was excited to watch Ryuichi Sakamoto perform live up close. I want to be a musician like him one day.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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