Okinawan handicrafts 沖縄の伝統工芸品

Wonders and Mysteries of the Japanese Tropics


The island of Okinawa was the kingdom of Ryukyu until 1872. Encouraged and protected by successive kings, crafts developed, as did trade with neighboring countries (Japan, China, Korea). In fact, influenced by foreign cultures, craftsmanship has appropriated its own style, of which here are the main trends.





Yachimun pottery

Yachimun is ceramics , this name referring to pottery in the language of Okinawa . Artisans only made roof tiles for the castle in the 1600s. At that time, a king of Ryukyu was taken prisoner. A hostage in Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima ), he returned with craftsmen who then advanced pottery techniques for tableware . The shuki then became the service usually used to drink Awamori , the Okinawan spirit drink.

To read: Choosing and buying ceramics in Japan

Service Awamori

Awamori service for Okinawan liquor

wikimedia Commons


The workshops are in the Tsuboya district and in the village of Yomitan . Two kinds of pottery exist today, jōyachi , with glazed decorations, and arayachi , raw terracotta without paint.

You will also see the Shîsâ , sculptures which represent animals between the lion and the dog, guardians of the houses, made with the arayachi technique.

Read also: What to see in southern Okinawa

un Shîsâ en terre brute arayachi

a shîsâ in arayachi raw earth

FlickrChris Harber

Tissage du coton Minsâ de l'île Ishigaki

Traditional Minsa cotton weaving from Ishigaki Island

Wikimedia Commons


Okinawan glass

After the Second World War, when the Americans began to occupy Okinawa with military bases, there was a great lack of resources , of raw materials. The Americans ask the Japanese to make glass utensils. The Japanese have no choice but to recover discarded bottles of Coca-Cola, Perrier or beer. This mixture will give a thick glass with colored bubbles . The Japanese are not satisfied with this rough result but it will please the Americans, who find it original. The method remained to become this glass so typical of Okinawa .

To discover: Visit of the glass village


Okinawa Ryukyu Glass

Okinawan Ryukyu Glass


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