Japan Expo Paris - July 11-14, 2024
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London Okinawa Sanshinkai

London Okinawa Sanshinkai was formed in 1999 at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) by academics specializing in Ryukyu Classical Music and Yaeyama Folk Songs studies. Since then, the group has been disseminating Okinawan music, dances, and culture through a variety of activities and performances not only in the UK but also in other European countries. At the center of these activities is their annual "Okinawa Day" event.

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London okinawa Sanshinkai

The London Okinawa Sanshinkai was born out of a growing interest in Okinawan music and dance in the UK, which started in late 1981 with a tour of the UK by Miyagi Minoru's Okinawan dance and music troupe. The tour was organized by Anne Hunt, who was striving to promote World Music through various concert tours. The troupe performed both folk and classical/court music and dance, including a segment of a Kumiodori dance-play. David Hughes, who served as an interpreter, lecturer, and MC for the tour, was the first to teach a bit of Okinawan musical performance and always focused on the folk repertoire. Several years later, in 1995, Robin Thompson returned to the UK after thirteen years in Okinawa and became the major force in teaching and performing the court repertoire. Next, Matt Gillan, while a Master's student at SOAS in 1998-99, fell in love with Okinawan music and decided to change his proposed Ph.D. topic from shakuhachi music to Okinawa, and specifically (at David's suggestion) to Yaeyama. The current activities of the London Okinawa Sanshinkai would not have developed without Matt's outstanding determination to discover the Okinawa Kenjinkai – the Prefectural Association – in London and get them involved. The group has continued to grow and develop since then, with performances, workshops, and other events held regularly to promote and preserve Okinawan music and dance in the UK.

Traditional Okinawan dances and Music

Alongside the Paris Sanshin Club, London Okinawa Sanshinkai will showcase traditional folk songs accompanied by the Sanshin, a Japanese lute that has three strings and is the predecessor of the Shamisen.

Its distinct sound brings to mind the sea, sun, and sandy beaches of Okinawa. The show features a diverse range of music, from somber to celebratory, melancholic to pop, and reflects the unique culture of Okinawa.

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