Video Practice ~ Paradise Urumajima (パラダイスうるま島)

Chirp chirp this morning ~

This is such a great happy sounding song…but was so challenging.  I still don’t quite have it down.  Oh, well, here’s my progress with this song.  I hope to one day look at this and smile…  yet at times, these have been such frustrating days.

Both Japanese and Okinawan can be very difficult to pronounce for me as I strive for perfection in how I play the sanshin and sing.

My mom in Hawaii finds these videos enjoyable when I do send and I appreciate the comments and sharing how over time my playing evolved. Meaning…it will hopefully get better.  Mom played a lot of Okinawan music growing up; after all she was homesick for Okinawa and isolated from her few surviving siblings among a host of other sorrows from the war.   I can really hear her happiness when she hears me practice and has been so supportive enduring my sanshin over the phone.

So regardless of what you aspire, no one can support you if they don’t know you need it.  And with more practice and time, the hard work will hopefully pay off.  But also important is that one finds what they are doing enjoyable at the same time.

For me…although I get frustrated…I have to say that most if not all of my frustration..well at least a big part is that I tend to be a perfectionist and knowing I can’t get it perfect is irritating.  I seek to learn and want to know so much but limited.  However, I also know that the more I seek to do well, that again in time perfection will naturally come.  (so knowing that perhaps balances it…hope that one made sense)

Ippe nifee debiru/thank you very much.  Another chirp by Tuigwaa-chan.  😉


Video practice ~ Umi No Chimbora (海のチンボーラー)

I just love this song and hope you enjoy it too.

Tuigwaa-chan  ~ chirp chirp ~


1/1/2012 Maneki Neko Restaurant ~ Sanshin

A delightful evening is how I would capture this one.  We had a 17 month old (baby boy) who loved the sanshin.  In fact, so much he couldn’t wait to get out of his high chair and dance.  It was so funny how he would instantly start having a dance fit in his chair and smiling.  He wasn’t facing us (his back was towards us, however he would turn around and move up and down happily.)    It would seem our aka-chan (baby) fan had 2 particular songs he really approved of though he enjoyed our music.   So I am not sure if it was our playing or the song….though I would like to think and be optimistic right…so let’s think it was the song.

BTW, those 2 songs aka-chan really enjoyed (danced) the most were….. drum roll please…..

– Ashibina


– Tenyo

We hope to see our young friend and his family in the near future.

Well, it’s almost time for my oldest to be heading back to college which means I only have a one … maybe two more opportunities to play with him at Maneki Neko Restaurant.  (I will miss his company but know he is off to do great things in school.)

May peace be with all of you, and again Happy New Year.  Chirp Chirp 🙂

1/1/2012 Happy New Year!

Today Roger and I plan to stop by and play a little while at Maneki Neko.   A nice way to bring in the New Year with a brief performance.    Well, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and brought in the New Year with lots of joy.  Chirp Chirp ~


12/11/11 Maneki Neko Restaurant ~ Sanshin

Ok, I did get a bit relaxed and missed some entries, well, that happens and they weren’t very eventful.

Well, Sunday I hit a milestone so it’s definitely something worth mentioning.

For the first time, I was able to perform standing throughout the night.  By that I mean, with no strap and whenever I had the chance to play which was quite a bit too.  On occasion,  I also do what I can to accommodate customers with their orders, seating, etc. as it makes for a nice atmosphere.  Most enjoy seeing the instrument up close and chatting whenever I finish playing or as I help them settle.  I love to share Okinawan culture and the fact that it is something that makes my parents proud.  After all, it isn’t a bad thing to actually do something to make one’s parent’s proud.

But was most exciting was that I wasn’t my usual self-conscious self.  I wasn’t nervous.  I had a full house -meaning audience, and on my game,…weird since I am usually nervous.    And what made it interesting was that I was able to now play hayabiki songs (the fast ones) and also Hiyamikachi without a strap.  (Hiyamikachi is a tricky one to play as it requires notes that are the furthest down on the neck.)  Not sure what possessed me to play it standing, and not sure why I wasn’t worried….I simply wanted to play the song, and executed.

It was indeed my great achievement as I would typically get nervous in the past which makes playing fast songs while standing difficult; i.e. holding the instrument, playing, and singing.  But last night was my night and I was so happy.  Now, I tend to be practical, so I don’t expect this to be the “norm”, but that won’t stop me from trying to pursue perfection.  It will take a great deal of hard work and mistakes to get to where I want to be,  but it was definitely the confidence booster I have been so desperately needing and finally a sweet taste of how it is to do well and success.  It was a great evening.

Success is indeed sweet!   Chirp Chirp

Ryukyu Shimpo Article – Helen Yamada (~ Fukuhara 普久原)

Tuigwaa-chan’s Search For Her Okinawan Identity

Based upon my interview for an article in Ryukyu Shimpo (an Okinawan Newspaper), and through the help of Google and Yahoo translation, along with some research, well,  here’s my interpretation of how the article from the Ryukyu Shimpo should read if it were translated into English.  I also have added some content to flow better.   The Japanese version can be found here.

Helen Fujiko Yamada (42) from Hawaii has poured passion into Ryukyu (Okinawan) dance and sanshin.   Helen says,  “She was  fascinated from a young age watching the dance troupe from Okinawa perform in Hawaii.”  As this touched her heart, she thought to herself that one day she would also like to dance.   While growing up in Hawaii, she later received a brief introduction to sanshin from her mother.

Every time there was an opportunity to perform Okinawan dance at events such as celebrations, birthdays, talent shows, recitals,  etc.,   Helen enjoyed performing.    However, her ability to continue into high school became strained and difficult to maintain as she was involved in numerous clubs and activities and devoted to her studies.   After high school, Helen began a career in banking, which later led to her pursuit towards an Accounting Degree (via night school) while working full-time.  She also worked in other business areas such as taxation,  audit, and real estate (she still retains her license) and later obtained her Master’s Degree in Accounting.   Helen is married to Wade Yamada, and they relocated to Virginia as Wade is in the U.S. Army.   Fortunately,  Helen was able to learn of the existence of an Okinawan group and happily resumed Okinawan dance.   She decided to also learn sanshin.  It wasn’t long till sanshin also became more than just a hobby.  It quickly became an important part of her as she is aware and seeks to understand her Okinawan identity.

Ohio-born (American) father died when she was in her early 20s.  He had deep feelings about Okinawa and took interest in folk singing.  He was fluent (MOL- Master of Oriental Languages? A linguist) Thus, he was proficient in Japanese and Okinawan to include knowledge about culture, history, customs, and much more.   Helen’s mother (Mrs. Strecker)  still resides in Hawaii.   Mrs. Fujiko Strecker (Fukuhara)  was born in Saipan and was the youngest of 12 children.  Eight of her siblings are believed to have died in Saipan as well as her father and brothers due to the war.  During postwar,  Helen’s grandmother brought the remaining 4 children (includes her mother) to Okinawa from Saipan.  Shortly after relocating to Okinawa,   grandmother passes away in Okinawa out of sadness (broken heart) and is buried separate from grandfather (Saipan).  This ordeal was very  painful on mother as she  was forced to live a harsh life without her parents  (orphaned) as a toddler and also separated from her other siblings.

Read More…

“Nago Mayor prepared to go on his own visit to the US in Jan.” via Ryukyu Shimpo

Article is featured at the English website of the Ryukyu Shimpo on November 8, 2011.  This will be discussed on the November 25th episode of Radio Okinawa by Tuigwaa-chan.

11/20/11 Maneki Neko Restaurant ~ Sanshin

I usually play solo.  So when Roger is in the area and has the time to play,  it is always nice.  What makes me happy is that he doesn’t mind and even looks forward to performing and coming with me.   Our goal is to visit Okinawa.  By the way,  Futoshi “Tao” Takazato (owner Maneki Neko Restaurant – Falls Church) painted the fan design in the background which is so amazing to see.

11/19/11 Int’l Student Thanksgiving Banquet ~ Sanshin

Sanshin opportunity with Virginia Beach Sanshin Group….sure!   Roger and I were delighted to help out by attending and performing.   Apparently there was over 400 people representing 42 countries so it was indeed an International event and simply amazing to be a part of.   The event seemed well organized and it was nice to meet new friends.

Okinawan Songwriting ~ chirp chirp

Perhaps a mental note to self or a crazy public comment.  Here’s goes. Sometime next year I will either laugh at this or take my thoughts more seriously about things like this.

Got this notion last week but had to ponder it before acknowledging such a thought.  So, what will it be fast or slow songs?  Well… so far, I am thinking slower songs but think faster would be more entertaining.  So I will just let this thought keep running in the background so to speak without much effort until my Uchinaguchi vocabulary increases to the point I can assemble the lyrics.  For now, I am off to find a small journal to start writing my ideas down in Eigo (English) and then perhaps worry about fixing / translating later.  I have a lot to convey/share in thoughts, … music would not be a bad way to do so.

My hope is that the song(s) I do in Uchinaguchi will provoke interest and excitement!  Well, perhaps I have too many hopes … just like my music taste…I like too many songs and a wide variety.




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