Greetings, Citizens of the Universe!
How are you today? I’m doing a lot better than a few weeks ago and this post is one reason why!
Some time ago, I was watching Newsroom Tokyo on TV. (There’s a block on WLIW World that shows the aforementioned news program along with Direct Talk.) I was originally going to skip it as all of the top stories (and some auxiliary ones) involved everyone’s “favorite” celebrity president. (This was one reason I took a quasi-hiatus from social media, primarily Twitter as the following paragraph explains somewhat.)
What kept me along was (besides the fact I was distracted by Twitter and 90% of my timeline was dominated by politics) was this delightful story about “Grandma idols” and their then-impending trek to Singapore. Their fascinating story intrigued me, prompting the following response:
Well, as you can tell, I’m talking about these wonderful ladies.
This can help bring some context to it all (along with being a somewhat abridged version of the section immediately following the break):
What’chu talkin’ about, Magi-Kat?
Currently sporting about 30 members, KBG84 is a local group based in their namesake Kohamajima (Kohama Island). The group’s name stands for “Kohamajima Bachan Gasho-dan” or “Kohamajima Grandma Choir/Chorus,” the 84 being a reference to their average age. (Their ages range from 50 to 92.)
Prior to being a full-fledged musical act (courtesy of musician Kikuo Tsuchida), the choir just sang songs and performed exercises at their monthly meetings at the community center. The group was started to begin with (by a woman, first member Kimi Hanashiro to be exact) because there was an increase of older women living alone and isolated from the community. (Given that Japan has an aging population, issues involving the elderly are becominga top priority.)
Their song, Come on and Dance Kohamajima, became an Internet sensation upon its uploading in July 2015. This resulted in a performance in Tokyo that October, held on the 14th and 15th, which led to them being referred to as “idols” (a term that took some time to grow on them).
This eventually culminated in a performance in Singapore at an event marking 50 years of friendship between the countries. (In addition, like Japan, Singapore also has an aging population and low birth rate.) 10 members made the trek to represent the group, an exciting moment as it was their first time outside the island for some.
It wasn’t without its setbacks however. One member (Sue Otake) who was particularly excited for the trek had to sit out after getting 10 stitches on her leg as a result of a fall. There was also a traditional yotsudaki dance (added at the insistence of member and experienced dancer/qualified instructor Kyoko Chinen) that proved tricky to perfect for some.
In the end, after a long voyage that consisted of a ferry ride and lots of plane trips, the Kohamajima Bachans had their Singapore performance in December 2016. Starting with a greeting from popular member Tomi Menaka, followed by the yotsudaki dance, the show culminated with their signature sing performed with audience participation.
Now, that we talked about the ladies… let’s give their ditty the ol’ Morning Twilight treatment, ya? (Sorry, a friend of mine’s been playing Final Fantasy X as of late and Wakka’s speech patterns are contagious!)
Come on and Dance Kohamajima
The song is an upbeat track. You can’t help but want to get up and dance.
The song, written by the aforementioned Kikuo Tsuchida (who sings along in the song), promotes the beauty of Kohamajima.
We see our grannies with our guest, dancing. The dance has traditional Okinawan influences, reinforcing the theme of the song.
At certain parts, we see the other residents of Kohamajima dance along as well. (I’m reminded of the ending credits to Kyoryuger that show the other dancers.)
Hearing their story, watching their tale unfold… all this was quite fascinating and I wanted to share this tale. These ladies lived long lives and shared the beauty of their homeland with us. In these times when folks want to pen us like cattle within walls, it is folks like KBG84 that remind us that we should all come together and dance. Tis hard to stay anxious when you see everyone smiling.
It is why I do what I do, to spread positivity and hope. To quote the iconic Spice Girls is what is possibly my all-time favorite song:
When you’re feeling sad and low,
We will take you where you gotta go.
Smiling, dancing, everything is free.
All you need is positivity.
On top of that, I’d like to dedicate this post to my grandfather (whose birthday was the day after the Newsroom Tokyo coverage aired), along with all of my other grandparents (one of whom I was named after).
I’ll also dedicate this to any and all elderly people, even those reading this.
If any younguns read this, give your elders some love, ya?
In these times that sap our vitality away, let’s continue to live beautifully into the future. Let’s wave goodbye to all of that sadness, ya?
Maybe I’ll do a post on that if there’s enough interest (or at least until I’m able to see the documentary again. …What’s with me and finding blog topics through public television?).
Until the next one~!
— Magi-Kat 💖
- Newsroom Tokyo: January 24 (NHK World)
- KBG84 MV YouTube description
- Grandma Idols Head to Singapore: Clues for a Beautiful Life in Old Age (NHK World Special)
- Main and Profile pages at KBG84 website (JP)
- KBG84, Japan’s oldest idol group, have released their first major label single and it’s amazing (RocketNews24)