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A Fresh New Breeze in Okinawa♪ When Looking for Souvenirs on Kokusai Street, Visit Okinawa-no Kaze (Naha City)
post : 2021.03.16 07:00
Okinawa Prefecture is home to many artists who create beautiful craft art, including various traditional crafts. At Okinawa-no Kaze (meaning “the Okinawan wind”), a souvenir shop located on Kokusai Street in Naha, you’ll find Ryukyu Glass, Bingata accessories, Yachimun pottery, Shisa lions, Tenugui towels, paper items, bags, and various other items made by about 35 artists on Okinawa.
When the shop opened in 2010, there were only a few “select shops” that offered carefully selected items, which limited young artists from showing their work. Okinawa-no Kaze opened as a place to show people from within Okinawa and beyond, the “charm of Okinawa that was still not familiar to many.”
Staff at the shop explained, “To uncover up-and-coming young artists, we go to events and handmade craft markets held in various locations. We always have our antennas up and ready to catch new information, and we also never forget to check out what’s hot on social media sites. Some come by to show us their work, but also some say, ‘I want to expand retail routes, but I don’t know where to begin.’ So, we make contact and build relationships with such artists, too.”
Born from their ambition to “create a bag brand unique to Okinawa,” they have introduced various types of canvas bags from Okinawa-no Kaze’s original brand, Ryukyu Hanpu. Made from the highest quality canvas made in Japan, these bags are durable due to the high-density yet breathability of the canvas woven on a traditional shuttle loom. Using motifs of distinctive designs created by talented artists, these bags are cut, sewn, and finished in Ryukyu Hanpu’s studio. The bags have a tropical and care-free feel in the designs and colors and are also very practical to use.
The photo above shows a boat-shaped tote bag designed by Bingata artist, Yuka Arakaki. The bottom gusset of the bag is nice and wide so you can carry a Bento box and a drink bottle, or they’re also useful as a second bag on days when you have a little too much to carry. The vibrant colors and dynamic patterns are in modern taste, but the finish has that unique beauty reminiscent of Okinawan Bingata.
The rounded tote bag shown above is just the right size to carry for a short shopping trip or on walks with your pets. The fabric is thick so you don’t have to worry about it fraying through use.
Above is their R+H OKINAWA tote bag. The vertically long bag can easily fit folders and A-4 sized paper. It is made with extra thick No. 4 canvas fabric so it keeps its shape even when carrying heavy items and is great as a business bag, too. It also has metal fittings at the edges and can be used as a shoulder bag (straps sold separately).
Next is a boat-shaped tote bag designed by POKKE 104, an illustrator who was a tourism ambassador of Zamami Village. The concept of the design for this truly original work is “city of the future,” and features boldly depicted nature and plants, and birds and the city.
The shop began selling Okinawan Artists’ Masks when the demand for facial masks began to rise in the spring of 2020. These canvas masks are also original items by Okinawa-no Kaze, with motifs created by artists POKKE 104, Yuka Arakaki, and Morio Miyagi (morio).
The outer material of the mask is canvas and the inner lining is cotton, with a sheet of fine, non-woven fabric placed in between the materials. These masks can be used over a long time as they’re durable and will keep their shape through numerous hand-washings. They offer two sizes: large and small. You can enjoy coordinating them with your fashion tastes and styles.
Okinawa-no Kaze welcomed its 10th anniversary in the year 2020. When they initially opened, their items were limited to pouches and boat-shaped tote bags, but their selection expanded as requests from customers increased. The staff at the shop says, “We’re proud to be involved with young artists and their work. We hope to continue to do what we can at the shop to vitalize Okinawa even more.”
Okinawa-no Kaze is blowing a new and refreshing breeze across Okinawa. When visiting the island, we hope you’ll stop by this special shop.
The canvas bags introduced in this article are also available online through our Okinawa CLIP Marche (site available in Japanese only). I hope you’ll take a look.
Address: 2-5-2 Makishi, Naha City, Okinawa
Hours: 10:00 to 19:00 (Presently from 13:00 to 18:00)
Open Year-Round (Presently open on Saturdays only)
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Sachiko Tachi.