Nenes is a group of 4 women who sing Okinawan folk songs and perform on traditional instruments and in traditional Okinawan costumes. While Okinawa is today considered part of Japan, it has its own distinct culture. Okinawa is also a tropical island which many people enjoy visiting. Traditional Okinawan music is usually played on a 3-stringed instrument called a sanshin, which is similar to the Japanese shamisen and perhaps even related to the banjo. Okinawan music has a very syncopated rhythm which has been called “Japanese reggae”. Many people find the music has a very earthy and festive feel to it. The group Nenes was formed in 1990 by China Sadao, who brought together 4 musicians who had been performing separately. The group soon became surprisingly popular given that their music was well outside of the pop mainstream in Japan. Their independently released Ikawu CD sold well and the group signed to Sony. Ryuichi Sakamoto recorded with them and took them on a European tour, which brought them a much bigger following. Nene seems to aspire more to being cultural ambassadors rather than pop stars. Nenes plays a wide range of events and venues, including their residency at a club in Naha. The membership of Nenes changes from time to time, but the group remains very much dedicated to presenting the traditional sounds of Okinawa


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