Okinawa Tourism Information:PlanttheSeedsofArtfortheIsland’sFuture“YambaruArtFestival2017-2018”

Plant the Seeds of Art for the Island’s Future “Yambaru Art Festival 2017-2018”

post : 2018.01.12 15:00

“Yambaru Art Festival 2017-2018” is taking place from December 9th, 2017 in “Yambaru (or Yanbaru) area” where is designated as a national park in 2016. The main venue is former Shioya Elementary School (main venue) in Ogimi Village, and visitors can enjoy a wide range of arts including modern art and Okinawan traditional arts & crafts. Also, they are able to join workshops.

(The view of Shioya Bay from a gym of former Shioya Elementary School)

Regional revitalization activity through art has been very popular in many regions of Japan for years, such as Art Setouchi and Sapporo International Art Festival. This time, I am going to focus on “Yambaru Art Festival” in Okinawa.

“Yambaru” is an area where is surrounded by subtropical forest and sea with coral reef, and this is the habitat of rare animals and plants. Primitive lifestyle and culture such as technique, arts and crafts, entertainment, and festivals remain here still. The purpose of this art festival is to reconsider the culture and arts of this area, and plant the seeds of art. Former Shioya Elementary School is used to resemble ark to transports seeds of art for the island’s future. 

At “Exhibition Section,” works by artists including Yuken Teruya, Meisa Fujishiro, Masakatsu Takagi, Sisyu, and Akihiro Nishino are exhibited. Each work is focused on traditional arts and crafts and culture that are inherited from the ancient days, and visitors are able to watch, touch, and feel each work.

(The process of making bashofu)

(Bashofu is the result of delicate and patient handwork, and it is a perfect material for the climate of Okinawa) 

For this art festival, I personally want to cover about “Bashofu in Kijoka.” It is one of the traditional crafts that Okinawa can be proud of, and it is also designated as a Japanese traditional craft. A textile woven with banana fiber is silky-smooth and beautiful, and also has yellowish-brown glow. Visitors can learn about the delicate process of making Bashofu by watching movie and looking at exhibited panels. Also photos of models dressed in Bashofu kimono are also displayed. You can look at the fashionable photo story of Bashofu at a classroom with good old desks and a blackboard.

This is a collaborated work by Akihiro Nishino (author of a children's book titled “Poupelle of Chimney Town”) and an artist Teck Yodogawa. This is Poupelle made by garbage which was drifted down to the ocean of Yambaru. Its colorful body smelled like a mixture of garbage and ocean. I read the book already, so I felt more familiar to this character after I saw this work. It was impressive to look when my kids got excited also and said to me, “Mom, we saw Poupelle!” It made me reconsider about the environmental issue from visual and smell viewpoint.  

Yuken Teruya, an Okinawan-born Artist living in New York, creates his works by using toilet paper and paper bag. By using them in different ways, we change our viewpoints of looking at them. He exhibited works that were made with shopping bags for Ichihanari Art Project at Ikei Island before. This time, he used newspaper to create his works. His works make visitors to consider about the recent Okinawa from a different viewpoint. 

These exhibited works are hard to take a look at especially in Okinawa. A three-dimensional calligraphy written by a world-famous calligrapher Sisyu, and also experimental Ukiyo-e are must-see. 

(Works by artists can be purchased)  

Another characteristic of the art festival is “Craft Section.” You cannot miss the selected Okinawan crafts by Takashi Kumagai, a charismatic director in fashion industry. Crafts including Ryukyu glass, yachimun (pottery), indigo-dyeing, and others are displayed by taking advantage of an abolished school. You can pick up and purchase them as well. 

What did you think? I wrote about the festival briefly, and there are still more works that I want to mention. For example, collaborated work by pottery artists and photographers in Yambaru, and movies directed by musicians. There are only few days more left until the final day of this festival, so don’t miss it!

Yambaru Art Festival 2017-2018

Dates: January 13 (Sat) & 14 (Sun) / Jan 20 (Sat) & 21 (Sun) 
Venue: Former Shioya Elementary School in Ogimi Village
Official URL: 

Okinawa CLIP photo writer monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kono)