The entertainment industry in Japan is really full of Okinawa actors, dancers and singers, and groups. But Okinawa is the most isolated and poorest of the prefectures that make Japan. It is a prefecture made of hundreds of islands that stretch from the Japanese mainland for more than 1,000 kilometers south to Taiwan and the population is only 1.3 million people.
So how did such a poor and isolated prefecture become so strong in entertainment?
Of course in our culture singing and dancing acting and storytelling is really important and we all learn to sing and dance at an early age. Also one of the differences between our culture and the mainland is that we tend to be more extrovert than the mainlanders and of course as inhabitants of tropical islands with sunny weather all year round we tend to be more cheerful also ! ! ! (Well in my opinion)
But building on this tradition of singing and dancing and performing is also maybe the most successful performing arts schools in Japan. The Okinawa Actors School.
The School was founded in 1983 by Masayuki Makino and is focused on practical preforming arts. The students range in age from elementary school kids through to high school age. The kids attend regular school for general education and The Actors School for dance, music, acting and English. The philosophy of the school is quite unique in that it concentrates on emotion and freedom rather than just technique although of course this important.
Namie Amuro – Okinawa Actor’s School Graduate - 30 Million Albums Sold World Wide
The kids begin with free dance classes which concentrates on developing freedom of expression and movement and feeling music and later the techniques are taught.
I Wish My School Classes Had Been Like This ! ! !
The school believes that only through performing can you learn to perform. The kids are organised in to teams of twenty and they work towards regular public performances. Having the kids work in teams also builds team work and responsibility and caring towards your team mates and this social education is also seen as an important part of the kids development.
Speed - Okinawa Actor’s School Graduates - 20 Million Albums Sold World Wide
Of course the most famous graduates are the girls from Speed and Namie Amuro who are really big stars in Asia, but the list of successful graduates is really huge, some of the most well known are Daichi Miura (singer) MAX (vocal group - 15 consecutive top ten singles 10 million record sales) Yu Yamada (actress and model) Olivia Lufkin (Singer, song writer and record producer) Kuroki Meisa (actress; lead role in 14 films and more than 20 TV dramas and winner of 10 Asian acting awards) and Anna Makino (Former member of Super Monkeys and founder and chief dance teacher of Love Junx a dance school and charity foundation for children with down syndrome)
The school’s philosophy certainly is unusual but it certainly is successful and even though not every kid can be a star many make a living in the entertainment industry in some area and those that do not leave with wonderful memories and strong personal and social values and ethics.
I will leave you with the kids from the Okinawa Actor’s School in a video made for an Italian TV documentary about the school.
The Okinawa Actor’s School
I hope you enjoyed the post ! ! !