OKI Rekpo and Kano Manaw

Credit: © Yasuda Mario Kohei

Ainu Roots

OKI Rekpo and Kano Manaw

Credit: © Yasuda Mario Kohei

This event is fully booked.

Immerse yourself in the sounds of the Ainu music from the northernmost part of the Japanese archipelago during the talk and performance by OKI, Rekpo and Kanō Manaw.

Japan House London is delighted to welcome back the internationally acclaimed tonkori musician OKI, who is joined by his wife Rekpo of Marewrew musical ensemble and their son Kanō Manaw, emerging as a drummer and tonkori player.

The three performers share their stories of tracing the Ainu roots, discovering and embracing their cultural identity and their efforts to preserve the rich and diverse musical tradition of the Ainu. The performance offers a rare opportunity for the appreciation of live tonkori music and singing, while the artists provide a commentary on the instruments and the significance of the featured songs. The event includes an opportunity for the audience to ask questions to the performers and will be followed by a drinks reception. Guests can also enjoy an exclusive late-night visit to the Japan House Gallery exhibition The Carpenters’ Line: Woodworking Heritage in Hida Takayama until 21:00.

Project supported by Mais Um. 

About 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. The band performs often at festivals in Japan and overseas.

About Rekpo

Rekpo is a member of Marewrew, a group of female artists working on the diffusion and renewal of the upopo songs of the Ainu people of northern Japan. In 2010, after launching their first mini-album ‘MAREWREW’, they started full-scale activities and were brought to the attention of local and international audiences thanks to their performances at the international world music festival Womad (UK) and other European venues. Their work, which incorporates a modern arrangement of the charms of upopo, has been highly praised.

About Kanō Manaw

Drummer, tonkori player and vocalist, Manaw joined OKI for WOMADelade 2017 and Taiwan’s PASIWARI 2019 festivals as a backup band member. As a member of the ASOUND band, which debuted in August 2021 Manaw draws his inspiration from various music genres, from reggae to jazz. 

This event is part of series of UK performances supported by: