Okinawa Tourism Information:LivingThingsinIshigakiIslandCreatedinFelt

Living Things in Ishigaki Island Created in Felt

post : 2015.03.02 19:00

In the quiet community far away from the city center of Ishigaki Island, Ms. Tomoko Kojima has been making felt island animals in many different colors while enjoying her life surround in abundant nature.

Long, spindly ones are "Chin Anago (Spotted Garden Eel)."
"Semaru Hagogame (Yellow-margined box turtle)" and "Hitode (Star Fish)" and "Manta (Manta Ray)"
"Shima Tako (Island Octopus)" and "Kumanomi (Clown Fish)" motifs are used for felt broaches. 

An especially colorful, rounded one is puffed-up “Abasaa (Porcupine fish).”
Her house is surrounded by sugarcane fields, looking over mountains. 

It is about two-minute walk to the sea.
She puts into forms of what she meets and what catches her eyes in the sea by hand sewing felt.

When she had an opportunity to use a felt at the kindergarten which her daughter commuted, she found it interesting.  That triggered her to start this business.

Her felt living creatures have lovely face expressions, shapes and different colors
Sometimes she dyes white felt with the island natural plants。

The ones in the front basket are dyed with gajumaru (Banyan tree), fukugi (Garcinia subelliptica) and ukon (turmeric) while the pink-beige ones in the back basket are dyed with getto (shell ginger). 

The regular products other than felt animals are organic cotton, indigo-dyed socks and “Island Color Turban,” which represents the ocean color of the island.

Turban can be used as a stole and in many other ways.  

She gets unnecessary wood from a lumber shop for dyeing.  After dyeing work, she uses the stove for cooking curry, and spreads the charcoal and ashes in fields.
That’s how she tries to “make things in a good harmony with nature.”

She does not own a studio, and works mostly in the living room.
She does not separate her work life from her private life, instead she makes it a part of her everyday life to make things.

“I like things with unique flavor that can hardly be found in industrial products and ready-made goods.  I would like to make affectionate products that make people relaxed and happy,” she said.

In the fields next to her house, she plants dye-stuff plants as well as many kinds of vegetables and herbs whose amount her family can consume.

In the Chinese astrological calendar, 2015 is the Year of the Sheep.   Actually Ishigaki Island has several heads of sheep.  She has been purchasing all the felt from outside of the island, but she was wondering if she could use hair of sheep on the island. One day, she got hair of a sheep which was kept at a sightseeing facility.

She could not use the hair because it was too bristly, but Tomoko-san always tries many things.  She said that she found something interesting every time.

Unique felt animals are created at her own comfortable speed.  Please find your favorite one on Ishigaki Islnad.

Shops where you can buy products from “oogomadara”
Ishigaki Penguin, Hirariyo Store (Both are in Ishigaki Island.)

Internet Shop


Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  Masumi Sasamoto