Jake Shimabukuro

I absolutely love Jake Shimabukuro!!! He is an Hawaiian ukulele player and I have nominated him two times in this week’s task in RR.

In my islands  is quite a lot of ukulele music but it comes from the people who went to Hawaii before the second world war when times were very bad for us following our annexation by Japan and the music filtered back to Okinawa and the islands.   When I grew up there was always some old guy playing a ukulele somewhere at every festival, but I was never really interested in it until I discovered Jake Shimabukuro.

I first got to know Jake Shimabukuro as he make the soundtrack for the Japanese film Hula Girls which is a very funny but also very kind comedy film about a poor and depressed town in north Japan  that tries to make a Hawaiian themed spa to attract tourist!!!

Here is the theme from the film

Hula Girls

Jake Shimabukuro is well know for his cover versions of  popular songs and jazz tracks but he also plays some traditional music from Okinawa and Hawaii.

In this next video he plays a traditional Japanese song called Sakura Sakura (yes it is my name, but it is really about the cherry blossom and its significance in our culture)

Sakura Sakura

Finally I would like to share Jake Shimabukuro version of While my Guitar Gently Weeps.  I honestly think that this is the best cover version of this song ever!!!  I can really fell his soul in this track

I hope you like it!!!

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Thank you for listening to his music and reading the post!!!

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18 thoughts on “Jake Shimabukuro

  1. Sakura Sakura, is absolutely beautiful, Sakura, and he has an astonishing technique. It’s fascinating to hear how close to Flamenco (sorry, Maki, but I can’t tie it down to a specific genre) parts of it sound. How rigid does interpretation of traditional Japanese music have to be? Is it valid to improvise? (Or is this the equivalent of a ‘folk’ piece rather than ‘classical’?)
    His version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps is definitely inventive and interesting – and sincerely played – and you may have a case for your claim.
    Thanks for sharing these. Great stuff!

    • HI Chris!

      Japanese traditional music is very open to improvisation and the mamy shamisen pieces are improvisations around a structure. But some is really written down and always more or less the same.

      I am so pleased you liked it!!!

      Thanks for reading and listening!!!

  2. Ukuleles, Hawaii and Japanese stuff, what’s not to like ?
    Three of my favourite things in the world.
    Like most people over here I never took the Uke seriously until I went to Hawaii. There I saw a young chap playing classical pieces on a soprano uke, a feat which is almost magical to witness.,
    I was hooked.
    Mr Shimabukuro is an awesome player, that’s for sure.

    • I am really pleased you liked the tracks!!!

      One day I would like to go to Hawaii!!! It is a very popular honeymoon destination for Japanese people, and of course there is the music which is very interesting, and also the largest population of Okinawans out of Japan is in Hawaii.

      Ethnically we are the same and the our language is similar, that is why so many of us went there in the past, and there is a big Okinawan folk music and dance scene there also.

    • Dude, pound for pound, we’re packed with more of Asian America’s bigegst cultural critics than any other parenting blog on the planet–why do you think I hang out here? ;) (Anybody wanna give us a book deal? Heh.)

  3. Sakura sakura is lovely, I’ve only heard it on classical guitar before (see below), but this version is excellent, very delicate.

  4. Hi Sakura

    I cannot express how much I liked this post. I can understand you love this musicien as he plays the ukelele wonderfully. I also see the similarity between some fragments of Sakura song and some parts of Flamenco music, as well as the fact that this type of instrument must be played by a real artist too to transmit all the feeling and musicality, which he achieves.

    Although Spain is far from Japan, you probably will be surprised to know that I remembered this song but in the most traditional style and I knew I had heard it before immediately. Here is the link

    Thank you and continue posting things like this !

    Mrs. Maki

    • Mrs Maki!!!

      Thank you so much for your kind words!!! I am really happy you enjoyed The post! This is a lovely version of the song also!

      I also noticed some similarities between Flamenco and Japanese folk music. I think the spirit is the same.

      I love Friday Night Flamenco!!! Thank you so much for that!!!

  5. Alas, my connection is so slow at the mo I can only hear these in short bursts, but as soon as it speeds up I’ll listen properly.

    In the meantime I’ll recommend Jake to my son Matt who’s a keen ukulele player. Thanks, Sakura.

  6. Sakura – lovely post, fab tracks all….a happy, relaxed half hour on a gloomy autumn day. Loved Ali & Mrs Maki’s contributions too. We have tended to see the ukulele as a bit of a joke instrument here in the UK, a sort of guitar that hasn’t grown up yet. But it is having a revival right now, deservedly, and in the hands of a virtuoso like Jake, it it a very grown up thing indeed. Bravo!

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