NHK’s Morning Drama “Chimudondon” Starts Airing on 4/11

via NHK

The countdown has begun since we’re days away from the 4/11 start of the much anticipated NHK morning drama “Chimudondon” that’s set in Okinawa (Yanbaru) and in Japan. After a long wait, we also know the musician that’s singing the drama’s theme song: Okinawa’s Miura Daichi and his song “Sansan” will be released on 4/11 (no links to streaming services at this time).

Let’s look at the shimanchu actors for the drama.

  • Higa Nobuko (the heroine of the drama): Kuroshima Yuina (Itoman)
  • Higa Yuuko (Nobuko’s mother): Nakama Yukie (Urasoe)
  • Arakaki no Obaa: Kyan Hitomi (Naha)
  • Amuro no Obaa: Ameku Michiko (Ginowan)
  • Masutaa (hamburger restaurant master): Kawata Hiroki (Naha) of Garage Sale
  • Kaneshiro Junji (a fellow shimanchu at a Yokohama izakaya): “Shiisaa” Fujiki Hayato (Okinawa) — he’s also in charge of shimakutuba for the drama
  • Narrator: Jon Kabira (Naha)

“Chimudondon” is the 106th in the Renzoku Terebi Shousetsu (morning drama) series from NHK and follows “Jun to Ai” (87th, aired 2012-2013, set in Miyakojima and Osaka), and “Churasan” (64th, aired 2001, set in Okinawa [the first to be set in Okinawa] and Tokyo). We’re interested to see the Tsurumi (Yokohama) location of the drama which is known for having an area called Little Okinawa and has many Okinawan, Brazilian, and Korean stores. It’s also where many shimanchu reside.

Gackt’s Activities Suspended Indefinitely

Gackt in Uchinaa (Gackt’s YouTube Channel)

His latest video on his YouTube channel was over 4 weeks ago and with his uploads being quite regular, it was strange to not see any new content from him. Reported on 9/8 on Gackt’s website, we finally found out the reason behind his absence:

As far as the information regarding this situation, after returning to Japan on August 6th, we have been contacted by GACKT saying that he is “unwell”. After a while, his condition suddenly worsened. His early onset neurological disease was triggered and at this point it progressed into a life-threatening condition.

As you can see from reading the above announcement, many fans were shocked to find out about his “life-threatening” condition. Fortunately (but not yet out of the woods), Gackt made a statement of his own that sheds more light on his condition leading up to the indefinite suspension of his activities:

This is GACKT.
I made all of you worry.
Thank you for so many messages.
It’s ok, I’m still alive.  Ahaha

We wish Gackt a speedy recovery!

Nakamura Shugo’s “NATURAL”

Nakamura Shugo’s “NATURAL”

Actor and musician Nakamura Shugo celebrated July 29th with the release of his first album “NATURAL” and also his 33rd birthday! Also well known as a voice actor, in 2019 he was one of four winners for the Best New Actor Award at the 13th Seiyu Awards. “NATURAL” features 11 tracks and is available on Apple Music.

Nakamura Shugo’s MV for “Natural”

NHK’s 2022 Asadora “Chimudondon” Announces Additional Cast Members

via Twitter

And, yes! We have two additional Uchinanchu that were announced as cast members for the upcoming NHK asadora “Chimudondon”. You probably noticed that we mention Gori a lot and now we get to mention his Garage Sale partner Kawata Hiroki! You may recall him from “Churasan” so it’s great to see him on this new asadora too (it would be funny if the characters are somehow related but I don’t think that’ll be happening 😂). In “Chimudondon”, Kawata will be playing the role of the master at Sunset Burger so it sounds more of a supporting role.

The other Uchinanchu cast member is radio personality and free-announcer Kyan Hitomi who will be playing the obaa role for the Aragaki family.

So all that remains is the theme song and artist. We’re hoping that it’ll be Anly (from Iejima).

Okinawan Films Streaming on Filmdoo

Tweeted by actor/model Shogen, a 2019 film he stars in called “Okinawan Blue (Kokoro, Odoru)” — written and directed by Kishimoto Tsukasa (remember his name as he’s one to watch) — is available for streaming on Filmdoo.

Also streaming on Filmdoo is 2012’s “Karakara” a Canadian film written and directed by Claude Gagnon and one that I was able to watch at the Hawaii Film Festival. While not as Okinawan (lead actors are not Uchinanchu) as “Okinawan Blue”, at least the music is by one of my favorite musicians, Ara Yukito (Parsha Club).

You can also find other films (some of them are free!) from Okinawa that are (or aren’t yet) available on Filmdoo by creating a filter search on their website. Be sure to vote on the films you want to watch that aren’t yet available in your region!

HIFF Eat.Drink.Film 2021 Showcase Series

Shogen 尚玄

No, we’re not getting a film from Okinawa but we do have an actor from Okinawa who is starring in director Yoshida Kota’s Sexual Drive. Fashion model and actor Shogen stars in the film and many may recognize him as Raye Penber from the 2015 Death Note TV series. He has an impressive filmography and is currently in the Philippines to finish filming Gensan Punch.

A Japanese triptych about sex, aphrodisiac foods and secret desires.

via IFFR 2021
“Sexual Drive” trailer

Sexual Drive will be available for streaming from June 10-20. It’s not my kind of film but I’ll likely watch it for Shogen.

GACKT GAMEz New YouTube Channel

Speaking of sub-channels and multiple YouTube channels, GACKT recently created a new one showing him playing games called GACKT GAMEz.

The new channel joins his already established channel with 800K+ subscribers, GACKT Channel Gaku-chan. Judging by the number of likes and comments on his tweet announcing the new channel, it looks to be off to a strong start.

Gori’s (Garage Sale) Comeback

I can say without a doubt that Teruya Toshiyuki aka Gori (from the comedic duo Garage Sale) is the most important person in Ryūkyū pop culture. Known widely as Gori the comedian, if his last name Teruya rings a bell for those that follow Ryūkyū pop culture, yes, it’s that Teruya. His grandfather is the great minyou artist and standup comedian Teruya Rinsuke Terurin, his uncle is the great Uchinaa Pop musician Teruya Rinken (Rinken Band), and his cousin is model and actress Chibana Kurara. Outside of this comedic performances, he’s also known as an actor (NHK’s Churasan), can be found on many a variety show speaking Uchinaa-guchi, and most important (to me) is his work as a film writer-director as showcased in the amazing film Senkotsu (洗骨, the English title is Born Bone Born — fun fact is that in the past films from Okinawa have had directors from Japan with main/supporting actors from Okinawa but this one is a director from Okinawa (Gori) with main actors from Japan and supporting actors from Okinawa). And like every artist during the pandemic, Gori turned to YouTube to showcase not only his numerous talents but to also feature Okinawa’s culture.

Getting back to Gori’s comeback, it was announced on his Twitter on April 20th that he had contracted Covid-19 and was discharged from the hospital. Up to then, he had been very active on his YouTube channel and other engagements (he missed 2-3 weeks due to the illness) so it was strange to see him offline during that time without knowing the reason. Needless to say, it’s so great to see him back on his channel (his most recent video is of his popular character Gorie) and active again. I should add that he can always be seen wearing a mask and social distancing as much as possible but as he’s actively traveling to different places and collaborating with other comedians, it contributed to having a higher risk of contracting Covid-19. The number of Covid-19 cases in Okinawa have been over 100 every day and mostly on the main island. Please everyone stay healthy and if you’re able to get vaccinated, please do so for yourself and for those around you.

Follow Gori on his YouTube channel (sadly, in Japanese only) and on Twitter.

Aragaki Yui to Appear in NHK’s 2022 Taiga Drama

Aragaki Yui “Gakky” will appear in NHK’s 2022 Taiga Drama Kamakura 13. She will play the role of Yae, who is the main character’s first crush. In her 20+ years as an actress, this marks her first appearance in a Taiga Drama.

Speaking of Taiga dramas, there was one called Ryūkyū no Kaze from 1993 that wasn’t directed by, starred by, or had music composed by anyone from Okinawa. The first actor/actress to appear (in this case star) in a Taiga Drama was Nakama Yukie in 2006’s Kōmyō ga Tsuji, followed by Gackt in 2007’s Fūrin Kazan, and Nikaidō Fumi making an appearance in 2018’s Segodon.