Okinawa Tourism Information:“PIN-UPGALLERYOKINAWA(GinowanCity)”isWorkingHardtoChangetheAreawithOkinawanSubculture

“PIN-UP GALLERY OKINAWA (Ginowan City)” is Working Hard to Change the Area with Okinawan Subculture

post : 2018.07.04 18:00

Since Okinawa was in under the United States’ rule, Okinawa has been influenced by foreign culture and created its own subculture unlike Mainland Japan, such as music and fashion. Even after more than 40 years of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan, subculture mixed with different cultures remains in Central Okinawa, and it creates different atmosphere than Southern Okinawa.

“PIN-UP GALLERY OKINAWA” is one of the galleries that promote uniquely developed Okinawan subculture to the world through events. After its opening on May of 2017, 11 exhibitions took place at this gallery.

As an opening event of the gallery, an art exhibition by a comedy duo called “Yamaneko Brothers” was held. The brothers are originally from Iriomote Island which is known as grand mangroves and endangered Iriomote wild cats. Their unique artworks were expressed with contrast such as monochrome, rainbow color, simple but sharp touch, and weak and strong accents. And, these contrasts looked impressive. The duo also gets on a stage to do a comedy, and also involved with art, music, performance, and radio as radio personalities. They were able to hold this exhibition because they are the truly artists from Okinawa. 

Unique exhibitions took place at this gallery including “Breast Exhibition” by Riki Yamaneko, and “raiz tronco afeto” by Patricia Sayuri Hokama Fogasa, a dyeing artist who is the 3rd-generation of Okinawan-Brazilian descent. Also, an artist named brazil3 sought for models through SNS and took their photos about how to transit their relationships from strangers to friends, and exhibited at the gallery. 

An exhibition by an artist named Amiu Togiwa was held on the day I visited here. Her dot paintings and “human print,” like fish print, were exhibited at the gallery.  

Not only artworks are exhibited at “PIN-UP GALLERY OKINAWA.” A famous musician named “Naokiya” built a temporary shrine here during the New Year. It is interesting that people from different fields get together and interacts at this space.

“I wanted to offer a space to customers where they can drink coffee and alcohol while enjoying art,” said Moriya Kyoda, the owner of gallery. He built a bar counter inside the gallery. Bar opens from 19:00-24:00 and available for up to 10 people. Additionally, reservation is required to use the bar. You can also reserve the space for 5 hours (drink order necessary), and 1,000 yen will be charged for per person. How about enjoying the world of art that you can experience only here? 

Kyoda seems like a typical Okinawan man who is shy and does not talk much. Actually, his grandfather is American. He took Kyoda to a movie theater on-base when he was little, so Kyoda was able to experience the lifestyle and learned the value of the United States. After puberty, he started to work as a model. On the other hand, he formed a performance group with his friends and attended at events for elementary schools and club events. His favorite artist is Banksy, and his favorite photographer is Terry Richardson. Kyoda also worked as a video jockey for school fest and clubs, so his past experience helped him to come up with the contents of this gallery. 

“Many people feel hesitate to go to galleries, but I wanted to create a space where anybody can enjoy the art. Artworks by famous artists are attractive of course, but I want many artists to use this space. Artists who are about to be famous, interesting, or keeping the faith to express their world. It does not matter whether they are young or old. It is important to draw well, but artists with unique talents are also welcome.” 

Every time Kyoda meets artists who he got interested, he always talks to them actively. Recently, artists started contacting him directly. He also told me happily that a staff of an art college in Korea has contacted him about a plan to hold an exhibition of the students at the gallery during their trip to Okinawa.  

By the way, unique things about the gallery are not just the selection of artists, concepts of events, and the owner himself. The area where it locates is an interesting area in many ways. Maehara 2chome area in Ginowan City is used to be called as “Shinmachi,” and it was known as an illegal red-light district nationwide until 2011. This area is a familiar area for him because he used to live in a neighborhood area when he was in elementary school. He used to walk this area to go to school.

He knew what this area was since his childhood, and he used to drive through this area just like the other young Okinawan people when he got his driver’s license. After “Shinmachi” got banned and turned into a ghost town, he might be looking at the area with mixed feelings.

“I can renovate this building on my own, rent is reasonable, and the location is not bad. These realistic conditions were attractive to me. Also, I thought it would be interesting if this area transformed into a different area by me making a small action.” Kyoda explained. This area is about to be reborn by the power of subculture. Okinawa is at the mercy of troubles from hundreds of years ago, but Okinawa overcame these troubles. Kyoda’s small action might be following the history of Okinawa truly, and it might be the key of creating “the subculture unlike Mainland Japan.”

Address: 2-19-1 Maehara, Ginowan City
Business Hours: irregularly
Closed: irregularly

Okinawa CLIP photo writer Nobuya Fukuda