Licensed by the Hachiyo-ryu Yone-no-kai school of Ryukyuan Dance, the Akamine sisters are a performance unit from Naha, Okinawa who are based in Tokyo and perform all over Japan. At the age of six, Natsuko, the older sibling, became a disciple of Chikako Maeda, the founder of the Hachiyo-ryu Yone-no-kai school, and was followed by Maki, who also entered the school at the age of six. Highly praised for their exceptional sensibilities and performance skills, they have performed at Shuri Castle and appeared in performances put on by the National Theatre Okinawa. They have won numerous prizes, including the top prize in the Ryukyu Classical Dance category at the Okinawa Times Arts Competition. In 2014, they became licensed teachers, set up a Kanto branch in Minato-ku, Tokyo, and moved their base of operations to the Tokyo area. In 2018, they will be giving their first overseas performance, at the Canada Japan Expo.
Born in Naha, Okinawa, Natsuko became a disciple of the Hachiyo-ryu school founder, Chikako Maeda, at the age of six. She received the top prize in the Dance category of the 2009 Okinawa Times Traditional Arts Competition and was awarded a Ryukyuan Dance Hachiyo-ryu teaching license in 2014. Natsuko studied opera at the Showa Graduate School of Music, and through her experience performing as an opera singer on the domestic and international stage, she cultivated a fine artistic sensibility and powerful expressiveness that informs her Ryukyuan dance performances. Blessed with an exceptional ability to perform not only carefree, dynamic pieces such as “Ze” and “Hatomabushi” but also works such as “Nuhabushi” and “Hanafu” that demand deep emotional expression, the elder sister’s appeal lies in the lightness and elegance that emanate from her lithe core.
Born in Naha, Okinawa, Natsuko became a disciple of the Hachiyo-ryu school founder, Chikako Maeda, at the age of six. She received the top prize in the Dance category of the 2015 Okinawa Times Traditional Arts Competition and was awarded a Ryukyuan Dance Hachiyo-ryu teaching license in 2017. After attending Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College, she studied abroad in Toronto, Canada. Capable of employing her handsome features to display a soul-stirring vigor in Young Men’s Dances such as “Menuhama” and “Nubuikudochi”, she can also express endearment and transience through controlled movements in Women’s Dances such as “Shudon”. The younger sister’s appeal lies in the wide range of her expression, which moves freely between stillness and motion.
1989 Born in Naha, Okinawa.
1995 Becomes a disciple of Chikako Maeda, head of the Hachiyo-ryu school.
2004 Wins the Best Young Artist Award in the Dance category of the Okinawa Times Traditional Arts Competition
2006 Wins the award for Excellence in the Dance category of the Okinawa Times Traditional Arts Competition
2009 Moves to the Tokyo area to study opera at the Showa Graduate School of Music, where she will receive her master’s degree.
Wins the top prize in the Dance category of the Okinawa Times Traditional Arts Competition.
2014 Receives teaching license (no. 17) from the Hachiyo- ryu Yone-no-kai.
1992 Born in Naha, Okinawa.
1998 Becomes a disciple of Chikako Maeda, head of the
2006 Wins the Best Young Artist Award in the Dance
category of the Okinawa Times Traditional Arts
2008 Wins the award for Excellence in the Dance category
of the Okinawa Times Traditional Arts Competition
2011 Moves to Tokyo to study English Literature at Aoyama
Gakuin Women’s Junior College.
2014 Travels to Toronto, Canada for language study.
2015 Returns to Japan.
Wins the top prize in the Dance category of the
Okinawa Times Traditional Arts Competition.
2016 Starts performing with Natsuko as the Akamine sisters.
2017 Receives teaching license (no. 21) from the Hachiyo-ryu
Carrying Ryukyuan Dance on their Shoulders
Commentary by Tatsuro Wajima, Associate Professor in the Department of Contemporary Liberal Arts, Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College
Since becoming disciples of Chikako Maeda, head of the Hachiyo-ryu school, the Akamine sisters have worked hard and matured together while making Ryukyuan dance a part of their lives. As adults, they have continued to grow and inspire each other in a spirit of mutual respect while developing their own abundant talents, and though still in their twenties, they have a commanding air about them that belies their age. In the Akamine sisters one sees nothing of the frivolity that is common among up-and-coming “sister units” trying to make their mark. The Akamine sisters’ performances have a beauty and impressiveness that can only be achieved through the inheritance of a traditional art that has been mastered through strict training and discipline. There is a perfect harmony between them that comes from having studied together from a young age, and a physical resonance between them that would not be possible if they did not have an intimate understanding of each other down to their flesh and bones. The Akamine sisters’ rendition of the classical dance, “Takadera Manzai”, exists in a realm that is inimitable. (The original ensemble dance, called “Manzai Tekiuchi (Vengeance Fulfilled)”, is a performance by two brothers, Jana nu Shi and Keiun.) The Akamine sisters are destined to carry on their shoulders the tradition of Ryukyuan dance to future generations.
Results and schedule
Akamine Sisters: Past and Upcoming Performances
2003 Manabipia Okinawa Festival
2004~2009 “Invitation to Dance”, Shuri Castle
2007 “Yukibarai”, National Theatre Okinawa
2010～2013 “Okinawa Mensore Festa”, Ikebukuro Sunshine
2010 “Evening of Ryukyu Dance”, Sangenjaya Manmarunoki
“Path to Inheritance”, National Theatre Okinawa (Okinawa Times)
2013 “Urizun no mai”, National Theatre Okinawa
2014 Cultural exchange in Sofia, Bulgaria
“Ryukyu Dance Performance”, Hamura City, Tokyo
10th anniversary ceremony commemorating the opening of the senior facility in
Ise City, Mie Prefecture
Green Party held at Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College
“Ryokudenkai”, Aoyama Gakuin Alumni Association
Cultural exchange in Toronto, Canada (while studying abroad)
2015 Katsushika Shobu Festival
Japan-Taiwan cultural exchange meeting held in Taiwan
2016 Asia Electronic Organ Art Festival
“Akemodoro no mai” performance held by the Tokyo branch of the Hachiyo-ryu
Yone-no-kai at Curian Hall
Performance in Hawaii commemorating the establishment of the Hawaiian branch
of the “Ryukyu Soukyoku Hozonkai”
2017 “Diversity of Japanese Culture”, hosted by the Dokkyo University Parents’
Aoyama Gakuin University Open Seminar
Okinawa Fair, Aeon Shinagawa Seaside Store
“An Afternoon of Shamisen and Ryukyu Dance”, Aoyama Gakuin Women's Junior
College Alumni Association
2018 8th Ryukyu Classical Music Gathering
Okinawa Entertainment Association 50th anniversary commemorative