Upopo: Performance by Marewrew with Oki
In 1992 Oki received his first tonkori- a stringed instrument developed by the Ainu of Sakhalin. Although the instrument was regularly displayed behind glass in museums, there were virtually no active tonkori players at this time. Oki devoted himself to studying the tonkori and soon began making his own. In 1996 he released his first album ‘Kamuy kor nupurpe.’ Shortly after he established Chikar Studio in order to encourage other Ainu artists and promote the music of Ainu artists to the world. Chikar Studio has presently released a total of 20 albums, including titles by the singer Andō Umeko and the all-female ensemble Marewrew, who sing Ainu dance songs called ‘Upopo’ with a modern sensibility. Oki Dub Ainu Band features the tonkori in a band setting with drums, bass, keyboard and dubwise. They perform often at festivals in Japan and overseas.