Okinawa Tourism Information:KayakYaeyamaWorkshop;A‘SelectShop’OfferingAttractive&HighQualityItemsofOkinawa

Kayak Yaeyama Workshop; A ‘Select Shop’ Offering Attractive & High Quality Items of Okinawa

post : 2019.08.26 23:00

Kayak is situated at the center of Ishigaki Island where numerous shops offering various goods align the street.

Since its opening in 2013, they’ve been offering attractive and high quality glassware, Yachimun pottery, accessories, original T-shirts and other goods that people of Okinawa and mainly the Yaeyama Islands have developed over the years.

Kayak is a ‘select shop’ (a Japanese style of business which refers to a store offering goods from brands specially selected by buyers) run by Isao Koseki, the art director and buyer who selects the wide variety of quality goods offered, and the owner, Shinji Sonda. Before moving to Ishigaki Island, they both were true Ishigaki fans who visited the island a number of times every year.

Shinji Sonda, Owner of Kayak

The two of them spoke about how Ishigaki Island had soothed them with each visit as they escaped the chaos of urban life to take a break surrounded by the beautiful nature of the island, and the slower pace of time. They wanted to do something to give back to the people and the island of Ishigaki and so through the shop, they decided to show and tell the world the wonders of Yaeyama Islands.

The goods offered at Kayak are carefully selected for you to wear or use them in your daily life. The intention behind this is from their hopes that even when you return to your everyday life after your visit to the Yaeyamas, you’ll always have something to remind you of the wonderful islands.

They also offer items that you won’t find anywhere else, too. They go far and beyond to find up-and-coming artists so that they can introduce and offer a variety of items that speak of the allure of the islands.

Glassware that sparkle in the light, just like the surrounding seas and the rays of the sun showering the island. These are created by Ponte, the one and only glass artist on Ishigaki Island.

Cute earrings with a charming round form.

There’s a wide variety of Yachimun pottery available at Kayak. The pieces are made by artists from Ishigaki Island, Yonaguni Island, and the main island of Okinawa. Among them, there are also pieces created in collaboration, with Koseki-san suggesting Kayak’s original designs, and the craftsmen creating the pieces. These items too, are only found here.

Lacquer in Okinawa? Some visitors may not be aware of the local lacquerware culture, but the pieces offered here are created by UNO, a lacquerware studio located in the northern region of Ishigaki Island. Some of the pieces are made from wood found on the island, like Yarabu (also known as laurel wood in English), and also those made a century ago which have been repaired using their own original techniques and revived to be enjoyed today.

Urushi Kobo UNO also runs Forestale Uno, an Italian restaurant located in the Nosoko-Sakae settlement on Ishigaki Island. At the restaurant, you can enjoy delicious pastas and pizzas served on lacquerware created by Uno-san.

Apiculture has increasingly become popular on the Yaeyama Islands in the last while, and at Kayak, they offer fresh honey collected by the busy bees from the flowers growing in the rich nature of the islands. The Ishigaki Island Honey is raw, with no added preservatives, and is just superb. This brand of honey is offered only on Ishigaki Island, and besides the honey, they also offer Mitsubachi Soap and balms.

There are pouches, and small purses with metal clasps that are created by Ishigaki Island’s Bingata artist, Fumie Kyoda, and her sister, Fukugi dye artist, Ai Sakae. The colors on these purses are brilliant and beautiful, and the feel of the textile is divine.

The original T-shirts of Kayak have motifs of banyan trees, water buffaloes and other familiar things from the island. These are designed by Koseki-san, who was inspired by things he came across in the Yaeyama Islands and Okinawa. They also have a lineup of original items like baskets and sandals, created by the local grandfathers, using the leaves from Adan or umbrella trees, combined with colorful African textiles.

For the customers who visit the shop, it’s not just great souvenirs they offer at Kayak. Sonda-san is always offering tips and advice for the people visiting the island. From the small talk while at the cash register, he catches on to what the customer is looking for and what they might like, and he introduces just the right thing.

He says, “I sincerely wish for people to really experience something memorable while on their special trip to the Yaeyama Islands. I want to continue offering useful information for the visitors from the standpoint of a local.”

Kayak is a heartwarming shop that welcomes its visitors with open arms, and all who step through their doors will be glad they stopped by. The shop introduces items, ideas, cultures and the environment that the people of the islands worked to nurture.

I hope you’ll stop by Kayak when you get a chance, too.


Kayak Yaeyama Workshop
Address: Second Shop from the South, 270-1 Okawa, Ishigaki City, Okinawa
Telephone: 0980-87-5696
Hours: 10:00 to 21:00
Open Year Round

Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Masumi Sasamoto