It's cherry blossom season here in the US (Northeast). So here's a Japanese folk song, Sakura, Sakura (Cherry Blossoms, Cherry Blossoms) you can play to celebrate this beautiful time of spring. I sang this song a few years ago with Cantigas, the women's choir I belong to. We were accompanied by a traditional Japanese string instrument called a koto. It seemed like a perfect song for the uke and I found lots of versions online and in songbooks.
I like this simple arrangement by Joseph Todaro and I've adapted it a bit for myself (see tab below). The x's are strings that you shouldn't play. I just strum down or pluck the string with the thumb on my right hand. It's very easy. You can try his version of Sakura as well, available on his website Aukulele.
This is a good song to play whenever someone says the clichéd, "Oh, I love the ukulele because it's such a happy instrument!" This isn't a sad song exactly. But it captures the feeling of the cherry blossoms--they are so beautiful but before you know it, they're gone.
When I tell people I play the ukulele, I often get the same reaction--a sort of involuntary smirk / laugh. This little instrument doesn't get much respect--at least among people my age (younger folks are more open to it). You can add gravitas to your argument that the uke is a real instrument by playing this piece for your skeptics-- Bach's Sleepers Awake.
Like a lot of Baroque music, it works well on the uke. I play the arrangement by Roger Ruthen, available on his PDF minstrel site (free).This arrangement is easy. You're playing the melody only--nothing fancy. And yet it sounds pretty and natural on the uke.
And after you master this piece, you may want to try some of the pieces in The Bach Uke Book by Rob MacKillop.
Playing fingerstyle ukulele, with information about the songs and where to find the ukulele tablature so that you can play these songs yourself.