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[Gallery Haraiso Shikinaen] by the Shikinaen Royal Garden World Heritage Site is a Fantastic Place to Appreciate Modern Okinawan Crafts (Naha City)
post : 2021.02.22 07:00
The Noren curtains swaying in the gentle breeze caught my attention, and I decided to visit this establishment, the Gallery Haraiso Shikinaen. This gallery/shop which specializes in modern Okinawan crafts opened in the Maji area of Naha City in December 2020. The gallery is located across the parking lot to the Shikinaen Gardens, a World Heritage Site, just five minutes by car from Shurijo Castle, and also easily accessible from Naha Airport, taking just 15 minutes by car.
The Shikinaen Gardens was a royal garden where the kings of the Ryukyu Kingdom welcomed and entertained guests from overseas. The gallery’s windows are inspired by the Rokkakudo which stands by the pond in the Shikinaen Garden. At the front of the shop, you’ll see their sign that says, “Okinawa modern craft Gallery haraiso Shikinaen”.
Once you slip through the Noren curtains at the entrance, you’ll be greeted by a hanging scroll inside, which was created by Shiroma Bingata Kobo, a family that has been creating Bingata dyes for over 300 years, and known as one of the three great Bingata Sansoke families that served the royals. The simple, white and grey walls of the interior display the Bingata, as well as tapestries, panels and framed pictures dyed with Ryukyu Aoi indigo, welcoming visitors with the beauty of Okinawa’s dyed textiles.
On the table that is made with a single board from a Ryukyu Matsu pine, you’ll find all sorts of wonderful crafts. There’s Yachimun pottery, a traditional craft of Okinawa; Ryukyu Glass, colorful glass pieces inspired by the seas surrounding Okinawa and made with recycled glass; Kusa-Ami Works which showcases redesigned tools used on the island, using plants found in Okinawa like Kuba palm and Gettou ginger lilies; Ryukyu Tin, which revived the tinwork and crafts which were abundant during the Ryukyuan dynasty period; and Ryukyu Lacquerware, with dishes and cups made with Okinawan wood and finished with lacquer.
Artist/Studio: Takumi Kobo
Product Name: Uzu Irabucha Maru-Kuchi Rock
These glass pieces are inspired Irabucha, a local fish with a brilliant blue appearance. Each glass is blown one by one with great care. These are wonderful reminders of the beautiful Okinawan seas, and anyone would be happy to receive them as souvenirs and gifts.
Product Name: Pojagi Mat
This is a Pojagi mat made by Karansha, a Ryukyuan indigo textile studio situated in Uruma City, Okinawa. The remaining pieces of fabric from other projects are kept and using the Korean Pojagi technique, each piece is sewn together into one, like patchwork.
Product Name: Pojagi Mat
Each piece of fabric in various shapes is carefully dyed using Ryukyu indigo. The blue hues of the indigo are gorgeous like the seas of Okinawa, and the texture of the fabric has the soft characteristics of hand-woven textiles.
Artist/Studio: Togei Komagata
Product Name: Soba Makai Bowls with Deigo Paintings
A traditional Sometsuke Yachimun (paintings on pottery) of Deigo or Indian coral flower motifs, these Soba bowls are truly attractive with the designs drawn with powerful strokes of the paintbrush. The bowls are about 18cm in diameter and are functional and great for various dishes. It would be delightful to prepare Okinawa Soba at home to enjoy with these bowls that bring the distinctive feel of Okinawa.
Artist/Studio: Shisa Tobo Ogai
Product Name: Shisa Koro
This is a Shisa Koro or incense burner made by the Shisa pottery studio, Ogai, located in Ogimi Village. The robust expression and the weight of the piece add to the overall magnificence, and although the surface has a matte texture, the black luster gives it great depth and dimension. Each part of the piece from the eyes, the coat, teeth, tongue, and to the tip of the claws, are all made with meticulous care, and the more you look, the more you’ll fall in love with it.
Another charm about this piece is that when you burn incense or a mosquito coil in the pedestal that the Shisa stands, the smoke rises and exits through the Shisa’s mouth. I’ve spent years looking for a Shisa, and I was so attracted to this one that I decided to take it home with me.
The owner of the gallery, Kozue Kawano, looked at the now open spot where the Shisa incense burner stood just moments ago and looked at me with an expression that was a mixture of happiness and loneliness. “Every time I sell a piece, I feel like one of my children is leaving the nest,” she said.
The main branch, Gallery Haraiso opened its doors in Uruma City in 2014. Kawano-san handled various craftworks from artists within the city while promoting Okinawa’s modern crafts to department stores across Japan. She saw how the more expensive items like dyed textiles were happily purchased by customers there. She also got a lot of feedback from the customers, saying, “It’s somewhat hard to find places in Okinawa where I can find high-quality crafts,” and “I often go to Naha.”
This, and the thought, “the attraction of craftworks is still not a familiar thing even for people who live in Okinawa,” were what inspired Kawano-san to open her new gallery specializing in Okinawa’s modern craftworks across from the Shikinaen Garden. She is focused on creating a gallery that connects the customers that she met across Japan, and the local customers who have yet to find out the true allure of Okinawa’s modern craftworks. One of the biggest charms of craftwork is that there are no two identical pieces. The tableware, for example, is made with great care and over a long period, and with each use, the owner feels even more attracted to it, and the pieces add a touch of quality to our everyday lifestyles. The panels and tapestries created with vibrant colors of Okinawa will also make the time you spend in your living room a little richer than without.
Gallery Haraisho Shikinaen is a place where you’ll have a treasured meeting with special craftwork that will enhance your life and enrich your heart. At Gallery Haraisho (the main branch) offers a gentler, warmer atmosphere, offering modern crafts of Uruma City.
These galleries may be in two different locations and handling different types of modern Okinawan craftworks, but what they have in common is that they offer items that were hand-selected and cherished by Kawano-san. Such beloved pieces of art, and their creators, are certainly blessed to have such wonderful places to be seen and loved by others. These galleries are full of joy and offer visitors a wonderful opportunity to encounter beautiful, modern Okinawan crafts that you’ll love more and more as you use them to enrich your lives. There’s a special piece of such craftwork waiting just for you.
[Gallery Haraiso Shikinaen]
Address: 41-5 Maji, Naha City, Okinawa
Hours: 11:00 to 16:00
Closed: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays
Online Shop: https://galleryharaiso.com
Address: #137 1-9-24 Ishikawa Akebono, Uruma City, Okinawa
Permanent Displays: 11:00 to 16:00
Closed: Wednesdays and Sundays
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Yu Murakami