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V.A.: Japanese Music Of Hawaii

Something I never realized is that Hawaii since the early 20st century knew a relative large group of Japanese immigrants in its region who also mixed with locals.

Wikipedia: "The Japanese in Hawaii (simply Japanese or Local Japanese, rarely Kepani) are the second largest ethnic group in Hawaii. At their height in 1920, they constituted 43% of Hawaii's population. They now number about 16.7% of the islands' population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. The U.S. Census categorizes mixed-race individuals separately, so the proportion of people with some Japanese ancestry is likely much larger."

There were Japanese schools and for entertainment Japanese music and even cinema. It makes me wonder now how American music and Hawaiian music were sucked into Japan's musical interest. The annexation of Hawaii by the Americans and exclusion of Asians in the early 20st century besides their number being present didn't make it easy for them. It became easier adopting English. Pearl Harbor attack in WW2 didn't make it easy for the Japanese citizens. Nowadays we hardly realize they're still there. This page will commemorate preferably the early vivid musical approaches of the present music groups, trying to figure out if original moves came forth from it or not. In reality it is more easy to find the revived early new groups after they came to preform once again late 40s early 50s. I hope I can be able to build up this page and better describe and learn to understand what its music scene meant.

Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra: Paradise Honolulu

Japanese Music of Hawaii

The only album on this page I was really looking for from Japanese music in Hawaii was this one, but I could not find it anywhere, so I landed up with two other second hand releases that I bought instead, which were reviewed below. I hope some day I will find a copy of this one. Amazon wouldnt let me download it for it has no rights for the music in my country. You can still check it on various sources, like Youtube for instance.

1. Grace Amemiya - Paradaisu Honoruru (Paradise Honolulu)

2. Fujikawa, Takashi - Asataro Zange (Asataro's Tale)

3. Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra - Aja Koshin Kyoku (Aja March)

4. Aoyagi, Haruo - Ikoku No Oka (Strange Land)

5. Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra - Kosame No Oka (Light Rain on the Hill)

6. Grace Amemiya - Hoshi Kage No Komichi (Starlit Path)

7. Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra - Asu No Kadode (A New Day)

8 Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra - Jonetsu Musume (Happy-Go-Lucky Girl)

9 Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra - Ie Rai Shan (Fragrance of the Night)

10. Furukawa, Chiyomi - Tsubaki Saku Shima (Isle of Blooming Camelia)

11. Furukawa, Chiyomi - Kagoshima Ohara Bushi

12. Arakaki, Katsuko - Waikiki No Yoru (Waikiki Night)

13. Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra - Koyoi Mo Oka De (Another Evening on the Hill)

14. Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra - Aoi Sanmyaku (Blue Mountain Range)

15. Fujikawa, Takashi - Hoshi Furu Nagisa (Falling Stars Near the Shore)

16. Aoyagi, Haruo - Hawai Butai (Hawai'i Battalion)

17. Grace Amemiya - Honoruru No Lei Uri Musume (Honolulu Lei Selling Girl)

18 Furukawa, Chiyomi - Itoshi No Kadode (My Darling's Time Away)

19. Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra - Kyo Ware Ren Ai Su (Today I Love)

20. Grace Amemiya - Gunjin Hanayome (War Bride)

Hawaii Shochiku Orchestra ‎– Honor Bound

HanaOla Records ‎– HOCD 51000 2003

What I was hoping to expect on this release, just like I did expect it from the first CD, is that this ought to be music from Japanese origin with roots in jazz and Japanese music with a touch a American (jazz) music, but the music itself is not so ambitious as this sounds actually. The songs are always in a rather relaxed mode and come over that way as if they are more simplistic as I prefer them to be, - it is probably only because there's no pretentiousness is involved at all. The singing clearly has Hawaii singing influences here and there (clear enough on track 1,3,4 and perhaps 16) which is charming and warm, but again it gives an effect of that it prefers to keep everything as simple calm entertainment. It has nothing to prove, and nothing to loose. Often the songs were performed by Japanese children born on Hawaii who came to learn to appreciate these songs but with no deeper roots of experiences derived from Japan itself, - just interpreting it how they loved it. It gives the performances something more of a appreciation fest rather than an act of true creative force. For those listeners, loving a relaxed and gentle mode before everything especially, this album's approach as being performed by an appreciation team of musicians, as an atmosphere this might still be preferred by them.

A favourite outtake that is making it worth the buy is "Koi wa Basha ni Notte (Love is Riding a Horse-Drawn Carriage)" also because it's such a good song with wooden blocks imitating a horse carriage and with jazzy arrangements, gentle male vocals and sweet female vocals. From a pure musical viewpoint I think it is more or less the only true highlight.

1 Wakare No Isochidori (Parting Song) Vocals – Tokiko Teshima

2 Oshidori Gasa (Lover's Song) Vocals – Haruo Aoyagi

3 Bungawan Solo (The River Solo Flows) Vocals – Katsuko Arakaki

4 Hana Uranai (Fortune-Telling Flowers) Vocals – Naoyuki Takaoka, Tokiko Teshima

5 Aikoku No Hana (Flower Of Our Country) Vocals – Grace Amemiya (2)

6 Ame No Hi Romance (Rainy-Day Romance) Vocals – Chiyoko Ida

7 Asatoya Yunta (Song Of Asatoya) Vocals – Otoyo Maeshiro, Seiko Ikehara

8 Habu No Minato (The Port Of Habu) Vocals – Naoyuki Takaoka

9 Hamabe No Uta (Song Of The Seashore) Vocals – Doris Taketa

10 Setsunaki Omoide (Painful Memories) Vocals – Chiyomi Furukawa

11 Suiteita Noni (I Love You, But I Couldn't Say So) Vocals – Ted Shimabukuro

12 Kimi Matsu Hana (The Flower That Waits For You) Vocals – Grace Amemiya (2)

13 Koi Wa Basha Ni Notte (Love Is Riding A Horse-Drawn Carriage) Vocals – Chiyoko Ida, Haruo Aoyagi

14 Yoi No Wakare (Evening Parting) Vocals – Gladys Omoto

15 Yuki No Sensen (Snow On The Battlefront) Vocals – Takashi Fujikawa, Ted Shimabukuro

16 Ryoshu (The Loneliness Of A Traveller) Vocals – Doris Taketa

17 Tokyo No Sora Awoi Sora (Tokyo Sky, Blue Sky) Vocals – Nobuo Nishimoto

18 Ato Oi Gasa (Chasing After Love) Vocals – Hiroshi Kumagai (2)

19 Omoide No Hankachi (Handkerchief Full Of Memories) Vocals – Grace Amemiya (2), Ted Shimabukuro

20 Yokina Chinta (Cheerful Chinta) Vocals – Nobuo Nishimoto

21 Uraru Wo Koete (Getting Over The Ural Mountains) Vocals – Haruo Aoyagi

V.A.: Club Nisei ‎– Japanese Music Of Hawaii

HanaOla Records ‎– HOCD 37000 2000

The first song is one of the reasons I searched for this album, because it's a song I know in Korean versions from the period of Japanese occupation, I was curious how it would have been performed in another country even though Hawaii had been a renewed establishment of Japanese mingling somewhat with the original Hawaii citizens and fitting well together. Some of it sounds more professional, most material is a bit more plain, like occasional performances, not with a goal to prove anything, but to simply enjoy all of this unpretentiously in a small circle, therefore never trying to show off something incredibly original. Following moments I will consider for now a bit more noteworthy. "Ringo Oiwake" sounds like a mixture of American country with horse foot clicks, Japanese enka, a blues song and Hawaiian music improvisation. I also recognize Madorosu from a Korean version from during the Japanese occupation, which for me also made it worth checking this one out. A strange oddity for me is "Ginza Kan Kan Musume", which reveals a mixture of style of Hawaiian music, jazz and a somewhat more Japanese interpretation.

* 1 Otomi-san Vocals – Alice Kojima aka Aiko Bingo 2:12

2 Ohtone Zukiyo Vocals – Harold Sasahara 2:55

3 Tokyo Serenade Vocals – Jane Itai 3:05

4 Shina No Yoru Vocals – "Sparky" Iwamoto* 3:28

5 Momotaro-san Vocals – Mari Minami 2:39

* 6 Ringo Oiwake Vocals – Alma Shimabukuro 3:24

7 Sendo Kawai Ya Vocals – Sadame Miyazu 3:12

8 Machi No Hatoba Vocals – George Shimabukuro 2:44

9 Tokyo Boogie Woogie Vocals – Aiko Bingo 2:59

10 Tanko Bushi Vocals – Itsuo Tokunaga, Yukie Tsutsumi 3:11

11 Asatoya Yunta Vocals – Sadame Miyazu, Ted Shimabukuro 2:52

12 Hibari No Madorosu-san Vocals – Alma Shimabukuro 2:56

13 Koko Ni Sachi Ari Vocals – "Sparky" Iwamoto* 3:19

14 Wakare No Ippon-Sugi Vocals – Harold Sasahara 3:11

15 Yuuyake Koyake Vocals – Mari Minami 3:20

16 Oranda Yashiki No Hana Vocals – Aiko Bingo 3:17

17 Doyobi No Yoru Vocals – Jane Itai 2:42

18 Yuuraku Cho De Aimasho Vocals – Errol Nakao 2:33

19 Wakare No Isochidori Vocals – "Sparky" Iwamoto* 3:38

20 Japanese Rhumba Vocals – Harold Sasahara, "Sparky" Iwamoto* 2:27

21 Suite Itanoni Vocals – Ted Shimabukuro 3:26

* 22 Madorosu-san Wa Dai Kirai Vocals – Kit Ebersbach / Sadame Mizayu 3:18

° 23 Ginza Kan Kan Musume Vocals – Jane Itai 2:35

V.A.: Club Nisei ‎– Encore!

"This recording is a second compilation of music performed, circa 1947 through the 1950s, by sons and daughters of migrant workers, Americans of Japanese ancestry born and raised in Hawaii."

Also this release, like "Honor Bound" which was reviewed above the music sounds just ok enough but a bit amateurish, or with low ambition, like a celebration performance in simple appreciation of Japanese music roots. The music quality starts not too optimal in dynamics, as if recorded from a certain distance from the hall but in general it is mastered well enough not to be too disturbing in the full cd. Also here the music is again relaxed in every way. I cannot recommend it. It is a bit plain.

The only track I can appreciate somewhat better is the instrumental rumba "Yei Lai Shan" which I recognize from other (Korean or Japanese) versions.

1 Tonko Bushi - Aiko Bingo & Harold Sasahara 2 Akogare Wa Basha Ni Notte - Instrumental 3 Musume Sendo-San - Alma Shimabukuro 4 Bungawan Solo - Instrumental 5 Ina No Koi Uta - Aiko Bingo 6 Gomen Nasai - Errol Nakao 7 Hana Kotoba No Uta - Instrumental 8 Hoy-Tan Boogie - Aiko Bingo 9 Nagasaki - Instrumental 10 Ringo Mura Kara - Harold Sasahara 11 Tokyo Ka-Chin-Ka Musume - Jane Itai 12 Yu-Hi Wa Akai Ho - Errol Nakao 13 Oranda Yashiki No Hana - Sparky Iwamoto 14 Ringo Hana Wa Saita Kedo - Sparky Iwamoto 15 Samisen Madorous - Haruye Minami 16 So-Ma Bon Uta - Instrumental 17 Wataridori De Gozan-Su - Haruye Minami 18 Yu-Hi Wa Haruka - Haruye Minami 19 Yie Lai Shan - Instrumental 20 Syonara - Tokie Tamaki

Hawaiian Nisei Songs - A Musical Cocktail Of Japanese American Songs In 1950's

An album I did not check yet, but it is also related.

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