(This entry has been pending in my drafts for months now and the song popped up in my random play today so I guess that’s a self-reminder.)
Remember that scene of Eita in Lucky Seven where he was at the karaoke and didn’t like to sing, but before you could say KTV, he had grabbed the mic and did a very short but nice rendition of Begin’s Shimanchu no Takara (Treasures of the Island People)?
It not only made me think that Eita could give singers a run for their money should he pursue a singing career, but it also made me look the song up.
To my pleasant surprise, I discovered it’s by this Okinawan band that I would see every now and then during Music Station’s special shows (that’s what you get if you watch the entire program while waiting for Arashi who usually perform in the end; you get acquainted with lots of Japanese artistes in the process).
The video above has more than 5 million views already, no mean feat for a group that doesn’t look anywhere near to being an idol group nor an idol band. And for sure, those 5 million hits were not because their fans needed to click on the video for bragging rights or music show competition, which is an indication that those who actually bothered to watch the video are either real Begin fans or music lovers, or those curious, like me.
But that’s what I like about the Japanese music industry. It’s a huge market (second biggest in the world) so it has a lot of room for artistes of varying genre, from idol groups to indie ones.
Begin is a pop rock group that has been around since 1989, and whose sound makes use of traditional Okinawan instruments. This gives their music a uniqueness and identity. They’re not a backwater shabby band either having released 37 albums and 37 singles so far, and they composed one of the most famous songs that gets heavy play on au commercials, Umi no Koe.
Shimanchu no Takara would also resonate with those who have left their hometown and yet hold their identity close to them. It’s also a fitting song for a band that has gone beyond the shores of Okinawa but has retained their identity as sons of their beloved island. Lyrics and translation here.
Previous earfun, kiitekudasai: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
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