Imagining Okinawa

Japanese pop musicians and Okinawan music

Authors

  • Matt Gillan International Christian University, Tokyo

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/prbt.v10i2.177

Keywords:

cultural identity, Japan, music, musical style, Okinawa

Abstract

Since the early 1970s, Okinawan styles have become popular throughout Japan and, to some extent, the rest of the world. This music has been performed both by native Okinawan musicians, and also by musicians from the Japanese mainland, drawn partly by the exoticness of this ‘Japanese other’. While modern-day Okinawan music has been considered from the perspective of Okinawan identity within a Japanese framework, the role of Japanese musicians in the recent Okinawan music boom has been overlooked. In this paper I present an overview of the activities of Japanese mainland musicians in their use of Okinawan musical material and, through an analysis of published interviews and writings by these musicians, I examine the cultural meanings that these musical expropriations have held. In addition, I argue that the activities of Okinawan musicians themselves have been greatly affected by mainland Japanese musicians, and that modern Okinawan music must be seen within a national musical context.

Author Biography

Matt Gillan, International Christian University, Tokyo

Matt Gillan received his PhD from the University of London (SOAS) and is currently Associate Professor of Music at International Christian University in Tokyo. He has published on various aspects of Okinawan music and is currently preparing a book about musical identities in Okinawa and Japan.

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Published

2009-11-11

How to Cite

Gillan, M. (2009). Imagining Okinawa: Japanese pop musicians and Okinawan music. Perfect Beat, 10(2), 177–195. https://doi.org/10.1558/prbt.v10i2.177

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Section

Articles