What is the sanlele? FM Yomitan radio share its origins and allure

What is the sanlele? FM Yomitan radio share its origins and allure

From left, FM Yomitan President Tomoharu Nakasone, Yomitan Village Mayor Denjitsu Ishimine, and singer Alberto Shiroma share the appeal of the sanlele during the Sanlele Radio Festival on August 30.

September 2, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


August 30 was Sanlele Day in Okinawa. FM Yomitan, Yomitan Village’s community FM radio station (President Tomoharu Nakasone), broadcasted a special program titled Sanlele Radio Festival. Sanlele (a blend of sanshin and ukulele) is a musical instrument engineered by Sanshin Kobo Machidaya, located in Takashibo, Yomitan Village. Guest personalities appeared on different segments to promote the novel instrument and shared its appeal and the secret story of its genesis.


The 11 am program, Yuntanja Deban Desuyo!, welcomed Yomitan Village Mayor Denjitsu Ishimine and Alberto Shiroma of the Latin music band Diamantes. Alberto, the inventor of the sanlele, said, “this instrument makes you want to write music. It stands up to water, which is fitting for Uchinanchus–we stand up to any situation.”


A star-studded group performed for the first time the song Alberto composed for Sanlele Day, titled Sing on the Sanlele—Okinawa Do Mi Fa no Uta, with Ayano Kinjo of the pop duo Kiroro on the piano, guitarist Yoshiaki Nagamine on the guitar, and Kiyosaku of MONGOL800 on the bass, and vocals provided by Elvis Higa. Morio Higaonna provided the lyrics.


The song is a pop song written in the Ryukyuan music scale, with Uchinaguchi (Okinawan dialect) lyrics. Mayor Ishimine said after listening to the song, “Okinawans were faced with hardship during the COVID pandemic, but I’m feeling hopeful. I wish to organize a wonderful festival on Sanlele Day next year.”


Behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the song and the Sanlele Radio Festival are available on YouTube.


(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)


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