Okinawa Tourism Information:[TheRyukyuBingataPreservationandExpansionConsortium]BringstheBeautyofBingataUpheldSincetheAgeoftheRyukyuDynastytoOurModernLives

[The Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium] Brings the Beauty of Bingata Upheld Since the Age of the Ryukyu Dynasty to Our Modern Lives

post : 2021.04.18 20:00

*Products introduced in this article are available online, at Okinawa CLIP Marche.

Following Kyoto and Niigata, Okinawa Prefecture ranks third in the number of traditional crafts within Japan, with 16 craft arts. The production ratio for textiles is the highest at 31%, followed by pottery at 24%, Ryukyu Glass at 23%, and Ryukyu Bingata dyes remain at 7%.

Ryukyu Bingata is a precious traditional craft art that has been preserved and passed down the generations in Okinawa since the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The main difference with other dyes is that with Ryukyu Bingata, pigments are used as colorants. The dyes created with pigments maintain their color without bleeding when wet, and are also lightfast; traits that are advantageous for the climate of Okinawa where the UV rays are very strong. The colors dyed with pigments are also more vibrant when compared to other colorants.

(Photo courtesy of the Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium)

Shinji Odo, the executive director of the Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium says, “The bold patterns are so picturesque, that we wondered, couldn’t we take advantage of the Bingata as a ‘design’ that can be used for other items besides Kimono?”

(Odo-san and Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium Employee, Toma-san)

The Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium is a general incorporated organization that was founded in April of 2019. “We don’t believe that simply continuing to preserve tradition is an achievement,” shared Odo-san. The organization proposes various ideas to incorporate Ryukyu Bingata in modern lifestyles while carefully preserving the techniques and culture that have been inherited since the time of the Ryukyuan Dynasty.


What inspired the launch of the Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium was the [URUSHI TUMBLER], a tumbler made with Urushi lacquer made in Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture. The city is home to the Echizen Shikki lacquerware, a traditional craft art that can be traced back to approximately 1,500 years ago. When Odo-san came across the Urushi Tumbler that had this traditional craft art designed on it, he thought, “This enhances the value of traditional crafts,” and wondered, “Maybe we can do something like this with Bingata.”

He says that the gifts and souvenirs that are abundantly available at low prices along Kokusai Street, at the airport, and other locations are certainly “Okinawan looking,” but the fact is, these items are not connected or produced by Bingata craftsmen. Ryukyu Bingata developed and achieved its status as a precious traditional craft of Okinawa while incorporating techniques and patterns influenced by various countries and regions. Odo-san says, “I think it’s best to accept the changes that time brings us, all the while preserving tradition. I wanted to offer more opportunities for more people to get to know Bingata.”

(Photo courtesy of the Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium)

Often, copyrights for Ryukyu Bingata that have expired are used without permission, and seeing the abundance of low-quality merchandise with various Bingata patterns leaves Odo-san with questions. The Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium developed a framework where the Bingata craftsmen benefit fairly for their work. For merchandise developed through the project, craftsmen whose designs were selected are paid fair royalties and this connects to the further distribution of quality Bingata and the preservation of its techniques.

Many of the products developed by Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium together with Bingata studios and craftsmen are attractive items that people would want to have in their daily living, such as luncheon mats, tumblers, masks, wallpaper, and more. Shown above is a tumbler with designs of “Shippo Pattern and Sparrow” created by Chinen Bingata. The pattern is inspired by hopes for eternal reflections, marital happiness, good luck in relationships, and prosperity. The bougainvillea series by Yafuso Bingata studio is also very popular, and the tumbler itself is made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo fibers, cornstarch, resin, and other organic materials. The surface of the tumblers is smooth and comfortable to the touch, and the sleeve is made from silicon.

The masks created in collaboration with Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium and Okinawa CLIP Marche are stylish with patterns that are not too loud, but are perfect not just for daily use but also for various business scenes, and are sure to bring positive first impressions.

The luncheon mats are made with a water repellent finish, and with their beautiful patterns and colors, they’ll bring a delightful touch to your dining table.

(Photo courtesy of the Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium)

The chocolates created with Okinawan ingredients in collaboration with the longstanding Italian chocolate factory, Maglio, comes in five flavors of Kokuto brown sugar, Okinawa’s Shima Togarashi chili peppers, Beni-Imo purple potatoes, Shikwasa citrus, and Shio or salt. The pattern on the packaging was designed by Toma Chinen and is titled “Satokibi-no Hana (sugarcane flowers)” so that not only the chocolates contain tastes of Okinawa, but the packaging offers the unique feel of the islands.


Taking the current situation with people everywhere spending more time at home, they also came up with a new product, the Ryukyu Bingata Tool Box. The Tool Box contains directions and a Furoshiki cloth to dye, as well as brushes and pigments that Bingata craftsmen actually use to create their designs. The toolset is a great way to experience Bingata dyeing in the comforts of your own home without visiting a Bingata studio.

By digitalizing various Tezome hand-dyeing Bingata patterns, the Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium continue to develop and introduce various items for people to use in their daily lives. Odo-san says, “It would make us happy if people can become more familiar with Bingata and develop an interest in this traditional craft art. We hope to further expand and spread the Ryukyu Bingata.”

From March 26 to 28, there will be a Kariyushi Wear Semi-Order event held at Hotel Anteroom Naha, an event held together with the Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium and the fashion brand, Kizuna Okinawa. This would be a great opportunity to take a look at the cool fashion available for summer.


Ryukyu Bingata Preservation and Expansion Consortium
Main Office Address: 1-4-17 Kume, Naha City, Okinawa
Telephone: 050-5471-6988

Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Sachiko Tachi