Monday Exposure: Shigeto Takahashi

Shigeto Takahashi – 12th Street Rag (mp3)
Shigeto Takahashi – Lover (mp3)
You can download a bunch more on the mp3 page of his website.

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned Shigeto Takahashi, but he’s been a busy chap since then. He’s played his uke on top of Mt Fuji, at Yosamite, and at Nikko. He’s recorded an album’s worth of material. He’s produced tabs for the Japanese ukulele magazine Rolling Coconuts. He’s been on a mini US tour after Mike DaSilva was so impressed with his playing he invited to perform in Berkley.

And little wonder. Shigeto plays with tremendous verve and has an irresistible charm. His repetoire is largely the traditional ukulele music, but he injects it with a new spirit and vigour.

It’s great to see how successful the ukulele is in Japan. I wish I knew more about what was happening on the Japanese ukulele scene. Maybe I should learn Japanese. How hard can it be?

His website.
His homemade tabs page
His YouTube page.

View Comments


  1. Rick February 18th, 2008 7:47 pm

    Please send me one of his CD-Rs.

    I’ll send you a separate email w/my address.

    Thanks! Rick

  2. Jimmy February 18th, 2008 8:21 pm

    I’d like a CD-R too, Al! I’ll send you an email with my adress.

    Oh, and Japanese is very hard. Well, speaking it isn’t the problem, it’s the writing. But it’s a fun hobby. I’m taking up Ukrainian with my brother, after we both tried (and failed) at learning Japanese (for me) and Mandarin (for him).

  3. John February 18th, 2008 9:12 pm

    Me please for a CD! Although guessing I have probably missed the boat…

  4. Woodshed February 18th, 2008 9:20 pm

    You’re still in time, John. Email me your address.

  5. wheels February 18th, 2008 9:28 pm

    I’d love one of the CDs.

    I used to be in the region of marginally proficient in Japanese (my instructor believed I’d be able to pass the Level 4 proficiency examination – Level 1 is translator-level fluency).

    Grammatically, the language isn’t hard, but culturally it’s a different matter. There’s a book called “Minimal Essential Politeness” that basically fills the niche, “Ok, you’re at least somewhat competent in the language … now, how do you avoid offending anyone.” One example takes a single sentence and provides it 24 different ways, varying in politeness level from what you’d use addressing the Emperor down to “I’ll burn your home to the ground and salt the earth” level.

    Writing is a bear, too, given that they use four different alphabets, one with about 2000 characters. The large alphabet (kanji) contains characters drawn with up to 26 strokes each, with each stroke that makes up the character having a defined direction and position within the drawing sequence.

    It’s fun, though, and I still try to study from time to time. Gotta put it aside this year for Spanish, though … I’ll need that for a trip around Christmas.

  6. Woodshed February 18th, 2008 9:35 pm

    You got the last one, wheels. Email me your address.

  7. wheels February 19th, 2008 3:58 am

    Great! Also, some more on Japanese ukulele:

    Ayano Tsuji did the theme song for the film Neko no Ongaeshi (released by Disney as The Cat Returns). I believe there’s an extra on the DVD about her.

    Ajimu Kaigan Monogatari (Ajimu Beach Story) was a 4-episode animated show about a young couple who fall in love. The girl is a street musician who plays uke.

    The closing theme from Geobreeders used ukulele.

    Ranma 1/2 had a character (the insane high school principal) who played ukulele. He also wore Hawaiian shirts, used exploding pineapples, and had a small palm tree growing from his head.

    That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

  8. bosko & honey February 25th, 2008 1:13 am

    we met up with Shigeto-san yesterday, and interviewed him for our “ukulele safari”

    he’s such a great guy, and what a player!

    he comes from the Hawaiian tradition of solo ukulele playing style, and his teacher, Mr. Mori Takuji is very famous in Japan
    Mr. Mori’s teacher was Mr. Haida Haruhiko 1911- 1986 – a Japanese Hawaiian who is THE father of Hawaiian music and ukulele in Japan

    Shigeto now teaches as well, and so represents the 3rd generation of this tradition of playing style

    we’ll be posting the video soon

  9. Woodshed February 25th, 2008 5:30 pm

    He definitely is a great guy and a great player. I can’t wait to see your video with him.

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