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Tremendous Concert May 30th in Toky

"Tatekoto no Kuni ni Hana o" ("Flowers for the Harp Country"), a benefit
concert for Burmese refugees featuring Okinawa's Shokichi Kina and his band
Champloose, will be held on Saturday, May 30, at the Nihon Seinen Kan (Japan
Youth House) in Meiji Jingu Gaien Park.  "Plucking reggae rhythms from a
traditional Okinawan guitar or sanshin, [Kina's] music ranges from down-home
folksy ballads to high-energy rock" and "evokes folk traditions from every
Asian culture, as befits this southern island chain first settled by
immigrants from Taiwan, China, southeast Asia and the South Pacific"
(Pacific News Service).  Special guest will be Mun Awng, a popular singer
from Burma who, like Kina, weaves the traditional music of his Kachin
homeland into contemporary rock songs.  Classical Burmese dance and music
will also be performed by local artists.  All proceeds will benefit Burma
Border Consortium, a coalition of NGOs supporting refugees on the Thai-Burma
border.  Tickets are ¥5200 for reserved seats and ¥4000 for general
admission (¥4500 at the door) and can be purchased in advance from Ticket
Pia (03-5237-9999) or Ticket Saison (03-3250-9999) outlets.  Concert will
start at 5:30 p.m. (doors will open at 5 p.m.).  The Nihon Seinen Kan can be
reached from JR Sendagaya (Chuo Sobu Line) or Gaien-mae (Subway Ginza Line)
stations.  For more information contact People's Forum on Burma by e-mail
<QYN02403@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> or Burma Youth Volunteer Association by
phone/fax at 03-3916-4996.

In conjunction with the concert, an exhibition of art by Burmese refugee
children and photos by Yamamoto Munesuke will be held from Tuesday, May 26,
through Monday, June 1, at the Tokyo YWCA Lobby Art Gallery.  Yamamoto, a
photojournalist who regularly visits Burma and its war-torn border with
Thailand, captures images which reveal the human face behind Burma's exotic
veil.  Viewers of Yamamoto's work may conclude that Burma's diverse peoples,
and not its dazzling pagodas, are the country's most precious treasures.
The gallery (1-8 Kanda-surugadai; 3 min. walk from JR Ochanomizu Station) is
open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.  For more information call 03-3293-5421.


Some background on Kina from Pacific News Service:

NAHA, OKINAWA -- To most Americans, Okinawa is best known as a flashpoint
for anti-U.S. military sentiment in Asia. But that image could change this
summer when Okinawa's most popular musician, Kina Shoukichi, performs at the
opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.

A shaman with shaggy hair and graying beard, Kina at 47 has become Asia's
version of Bob Marley. Plucking reggae rhythms from a traditional Okinawan
guitar or sanshin, his music ranges from down-home folksy ballads to
high-energy rock. His best known hit, Hana (Flower) has been translated into
Mongolian, Indonesian, Thai and Mandarin. "The Thais think it's a Thai song,
the Chinese think it's Chinese," says his manager Paul F. Newman. In 1993
Taiwanese singer Emily Chu turned Hana into a hit in Taiwan and Hong Kong
under the title Hua-shin.

In fact, Kina's music also evokes folk traditions from every Asian culture,
as befits this southern island chain first settled by immigrants from
Taiwan, China, southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Originally known as the
Ryukyu Kingdom, the islands were renamed Okinawa by the Japanese who took
them over in 1879.

Kina has no intention of squabbling over royalty rights. "Let my music bloom
freely in Asia. Copyrights are a Western creation, unnatural to Asian
cultures. I'm just happy everyone can share my music," he says. Champloose
-- the word used for a new creation in Okinawan cooking that draws on
various cuisines, is also the name of Kina's band.

In a region where war scars have barely healed and military tension still
runs high, Kina's message of natural highs -- music, spirituality and peace
-- is a popular one. Okinawa was the site of the most bloody battle in the
Pacific War, resulting in over 200,000 deaths -- most of them native
Okinawans. Now 75 percent of the island land is given over to U.S. military
bases.  Kina's family land was turned into U.S.-base land at gun point --
his father had fought in the war and was taken away as a POW to Hawaii in
1945. Two years later he returned to become a popular folk singer who raised
his offspring to become musicians.

In his teens Kina went to Tokyo where he became caught up in the Beatles
boom of the big city. He came home banging Western-style rock but no one
listened. Dejected by the lack of acceptance, Kina turned to drugs. After
serving a one-year jail term, he went to India and met gurus who awakened
his indigenous spirituality.

He returned to Okinawa, gathered up his siblings, and began infusing
traditional Ryukyu sound into his rock ballads to great success. Okinawa
music boomed in Japan's 1990 ethnic wave. In 1991 Kina was selected as one
of the year's top recording artists by Japan's music establishment. Long
marginalized from the main islands of Japan, Kina's success was a great
boost to Okinawans' pride.

Kina Shoukichi and Champloose now plan to take their act overseas. In May
they will perform in Beijing --the first musical performance permitted on
China's Great Wall by a foreign artist. In the summer, they will tour North
America on the way to the Olympics.

Asked why he was chosen to represent Asia at the Games, Kina says its
because his music blends East with West. "The problem with the Asian pop
scene is that it only tries to imitate Western rock, and will face
limitations. Once Asian artists turn to their own roots, the world will be

Despite his global message of peace, Kina is something of an outcast in
Okinawa's peace movement. For months activists have mounted an education
campaign to force closure of the U.S. military bases here, a campaign
galvanized by the rape of an 12-year-old by U.S. soldiers last year. The
charismatic Kina has been notably absent from the most visible
demonstrations.  "The problem with the so-called peace activists in Okinawa
is that they don;t have peace in their hearts," he says. Instead, he wants
peace to flow not from politics but from the heart.

In Atlanta, Kina will have the last word. Fans here say his music transcends
Okinawa while embodying what is best about its music: the passion of a
people oppressed by war and social injustice; the light-heartedness of
simple farming folk; and the richness of a multi-ethnic legacy. Churn these
emotions with pure musical talent and you get world-quality champloose.