Okinawa has ceramic and lacquer arts, dyed-woven textiles, glass crafts and dance which originated during the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom (from the 14th to the 19th centuries) that have been carried on since then. The heritage of the Ryukyu Kingdom has been steadily handed down from generation to generation.
We stopped at Shuri Ryusen to see traditional Ryukyu Bingata textiles created by an unusual type of textile dying that uses sea corals. The fabric is placed on top of flattened natural coral “molds” and then the surface of the fabric is rubbed with a sponge that contains a single color of dye. The artists move the fabric around one or more corals and use different colors of dye to “print” fabric designs. The workshop had excellent examples of Bingata textiles – a style unique to Okinawa — that they produce.
After lunch we toured several pottery workshops located on Tsuboya Yachimun Street in the famous Naha pottery district. Pottery is called “Yachi-mun” in Okinawa. All pottery made in the various parts of Okinawa have a simple warm texture and hue which give them an additional charm. The representative production areas of today are Tsuboya in Naha City and Yachimun Pottery Village in Yomitan. Pottery is fashioned into jars, shisa lion figures as well as plates, bowls and coffee cups.
Ryukyuan dance is the traditional dance of Okinawa. The graceful dancers wear vividly colored bingata fabric costumes, which evoke the graceful court life during the Ryukyu Dynasty.