Bus guides debut as singers on stage

Bus guides debut as singers on stage

The group Utabus, made up of six bus guides, entertains in MOD’S live music house in Mihama, Chatan on May 3.

May 7, 2011 by Kenta Masuda of the Ryukyu Shimpo

Popular bus guides made their stage debut.
Six bus guides whose day-time job is guiding tourists around Okinawa on sightseeing buses formed a group called Utabus (singing bus) in which they made their stage debut in the live music house MOD’S.
Although the guides were already popular among tourists because of their performances in hotels for school trips, this was their first official performance in a live music house.
Naha Bus Co. Ltd., to which the guides belong, sees them as “singing and dancing bus guides” and intends to increase their number to 30. Naha Bus hopes to further add life to Okinawan tourism by promoting planned travel mixed with stage performances and solo concerts.

Explaining the background to the formation of the group, Ayako Yamashiro, one of the singers in Utabus who debuted said, “Some of us bus guides who like playing the sanshin, a traditional Okinawan string instrument, happened to practice together, and some tourists asked us to play more.” She continued, “We would like to make the group something unique to Naha Bus.”

The group was formed last June, with the bus guides training with a professional voice coach and a teacher of sanshin.
Singer-songwriter Yukihiro, who named the group Utabus, said, “The tourists go away with a lasting impression when they see the bus guides really enjoying singing songs for them.”

Up on stage, while showing pictures of sightseeing spots on a large screen, uniformed bus guides sing their way through a commentary.
In the second half of the performance, having changed into traditional Okinawan costume, the six bus guides sang a variety of songs such as Amazing Grace, Asatoya Yunta and Ojii Jiman No Orion Beer.

Itsuo Oshiro, the Head of Tourism Department of Naha Bus, said, “This is the first time in Japan that bus guides have made a stage debut. They guide tourists during the day, then they entertain people at night. We want to continue trying to think up projects that will help make people want to come back to Okinawa.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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