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Japanese Musician Promotes Traditional Ukrainian Culture

2011-01-24 03:30 AM EST

Cossack forelock, embroidered shirt and a sincere melody on the kobza – this is a real Ukrainian bandura player.



Except just one thing  - he is Japanese.

 

Charlie Shuichi Sakuma was born in the land of the rising sun, and lives in Canada.



But after falling in love with Ukrainian culture 10 years ago, he gained a third native land. 



[Charlie Sakuma, Bandura Player]:

"Generally, in Japan people have heard about Ukrainian gopak dance, but often they know little more than the name itself. When I came to Canada, I saw a gopak on stage for the first time. It just turned around everything in me. I could not tear my eyes away from the scene and thought that I must try it."



Now he dances the gopak or Cossack Dance, plays a bandura and even sings Ukrainian songs. 



Learning a Ukrainian folk instrument was not easy for the 43-year-old electrician.



[Charlie Sakuma, Bandura Player]:

"Firstly, when I started to play the Bandura, it was very tough: there were very few books, no teachers, and no opportunity to perform. And with all my experience and love for the bandura, I can tell you, it is one of the most difficult instruments in the world."



Sakuma, or as he calls himself in the Ukrainian style Sakumachuk, plans to perform Japanese songs on the bandura and promote Ukrainian culture in his homeland.

 

[Charlie Sakuma, Bandura Player]:

"If you look through the eyes of the Japanese, Ukraine is simply a storehouse of gold for its culture, certainly not for the money."



And in order to better understand the local traditions and the people, Sakuma is planning to soon move to Ukraine to live.



His friend Olga believes that has already much in common with Ukrainians.

 

[Olga Gudz, Friend of Charlie Sakuma]:

"The Ukrainian culture and the Japanese culture have at least one thing in common. They are both inherently modest, and this is a virtue that can be seen constantly in him. Despite the fact that he is very talented, he remains modest, he is well-bred."



This year, Sakuma plans to marry a Ukrainian girl from the city of Lviv.



He says it will be a traditional Ukrainian wedding.



NTD News, Kiev, Ukraine.

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