Music from Miyakojima - Okinawa

Supported by Okinawa government, Music from Miyakojima promotes both established and emerging artists from the island.

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Miyako, a group of eight islands (the largest of which is called Miyako-jima) that form part of the Ryukyu chain, poetically described as a ‘knotted rope cast into a distant sea’. These seventy three sub-tropical islands that make up modern day Okinawa prefecture stretch for over 700km from Kagoshima (mainland Japan’s southernmost prefecture) almost to Taiwan. Miyako is situated about 300km southwest of the main Okinawan island.

The music of the Ryukyus’ has an indefinable island quality. A bit like everywhere, but totally unlike anywhere, Okinawan music has developed from a unique set of influences down the centuries, as local traditions have mingled with those of seafaring and trading nations. Decidedly different to the Okinawan mainland, traditional Miyako songs are characterized by beautiful melodies and sad themes, a legacy of a sometimes tragic history of harsh taxation and natural disasters.
Even within modern Japan, it may be surprising to know that pockets of the musically unexplored still remain.

Paul Fisher



participating in

  • WOMEX 2013
  • WOMEX 2009

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