Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b '48 Koza, Okinawa) Okinawan songwriter and musician. The Pacific archipelago is more properly known as the Ryukyu Islands, of which Okinawa is one; historically, the islands have been subjected to waves of cultural influence but the people's culture is neither Japanese nor Chinese. Occupied by the Japanese until some of the bloodiest fighting of WWII in April--June '45, the islands then weathered American occupation until '69, and Okinawa is still a major military base for US forces. Kina formed Champloose or Champluse '66 (meaning 'mixture') which melded traditional and foreign influences. Recordings appeared on Marufuku Records; 'Basha-gua Suncha' and 'Haisai Ojisan' from this period would be reissued on the Peppermint Tea House compilation. One song above all others set him on the road: 'Haisai Ojisan' (meaning 'Hi there, old man' with 'san' denoting respect for an elder) had an instantly infectious katcharsee rhythm, and prompted several Japanese covers. One of the musicians infl. by it, having bought a copy while visiting Okinawa during the mid- '70s, was the Japanese Makoto Kubota, later part of Makoto Kubota and Yuyake Gakudan, which evolved into Sandii and the Sunsetz. Kina had fallen foul of the law and sat out '72--4 in prison for dealing marijuana, a popular recreational activity among US servicemen on the local bases, and Champloose reunited '76, making a debut album '77 for Philips. Blood Line '80 on Time Records broke through, albeit in a contained way since these Japanese pressings were very expensive and hard to locate outside the Orient; recorded in Hawaii, this album brought Ry Cooder as a guest musician as well as Makoto Kubota, Haruomi Hosono and an uncredited Sandii to boost the group's sound. Blood Line included another popular song, 'Jing Jing' (a local name for 'Firefly') adapted from a children's song, and 'Subete No Hito No Kokoro Ni Hana' ('Flowers For Your Hair') (Polydor of Japan reissued Blood Line '89 in its Revenge of Nippon Rock series). Celebration on Vap '82 followed. Niraikanai on Paradise '90 reflected ecological concerns. Items from his repertoire were covered by acts as diverse as Thailand's Caravan and Indonesia's Detty Kurnia, and the first Western release was The Music Power From Okinawa on GlobeStyle '91, a reissue of a live album made '77 at Kina's club the Mikado in Koza. Introducing on Sky Ranch '92 was an able anthology of Shoukichi Kina and Champloose. Champloose Renaissance on Toshiba '92 revisited old hits, some recorded live, including the inevitable 'Haisai Ojisan', 'Hana (A Flower In Every Heart)' and 'Tokyo Hymn'. The best compilation remains Peppermint Tea House on Luaka Bop '94 which draws on work recorded in the '60s for Marufuku Records through to material from Earth Spirit '91 on Toshiba.