The incredible longevity of Okinawans results from the islanders’ traditional diet, sociability, exercise and general stress-free living, but it might also be helped along by the island’s lovely, passionate folk music. With strong dance beats, sinuous melody lines and earthy lyrics, Okinawa’s music sounds quite different from the folk music of more northerly islands. Yoriko Ganeko, an Okinawan singer and sanshin player, will take her distinctive style of Okinawan music to Tokyo, Koza Okinawa and Osaka for three special shows this week.

Learning Okinawan minyo from her father, a renowned singer on the main island, she recorded several songs that became hits in Okinawa before joining Ryuichi Sakamoto’s world concert tour in 1988. She also learned to play the sanshin, a three-string instrument with a pungent tone that sharpens folk-dance beats while delicately accenting softer ballads.

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