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5 Recommended Places to Experience Okinawan Culture

2016.08.25

Writer name : Arata Ishiko

Enjoy traditional dance and music, take photographs of yourself in traditional clothing - here are 5 recommended places to experience Okinawan culture when you visit.

1. Naha-shi Bunka Tenbusu-kan

At Naha-shi Bunka Tenbusu-kan, they have 6 different kinds of workshops available. You can learn how to perform the Okinawan traditional performance called Eisa, learn how to perform a Ryukyu dance using Okinawa castanets called sanba, learn how to play the characteristic Okinawan instrument called a sanshin, learn Okinawa dialect called Uchinaguchi, learn how to cook Ryukyu palace cuisine as well as home-style Ryukyu food that's famous for giving people long lives, and finally learn Okinawan-style karate and ancient martial arts. All of them are fun and allow you to experience many facets of Okinawan culture. Each workshop costs 2,160 JPY for adults, 1,730 JPY for students of high school age and younger. Applications are necessary two months in advance.

*Photo is for illustration purposes.


1. Naha-shi Bunka Tenbusu-kan


Official Homepage (Japanese only)

2. Okinawa World Ryukyu Glass Kingdom Studio

Okinawa World is the biggest theme park in Okinawa, and you can enjoy learning about Okinawa nature, culture, and history there. Among the sights there, the Ryukyu Glass Kingdom Studio is a place where you can experience making Ryukyu glass. Ryukyu glass is a charming type of glassware that has a simple atmosphere reminiscent of the southern islands. The studio itself is genuine, and the craftsmen politely guide you through the process so beginners of all ages can enjoy making glass. It would be great if you could make a vase or glass with your own hands as a souvenir!

*Photo is for illustration purposes.


2. Okinawa World Ryukyu Glass Kingdom Studio


Official Homepage

3. Shisa Park Ryukyu Gama

A shisa is a traditional statue of a deity that is used to protect Okinawa homes and ward off bad luck. At Shisa Park Ryukyu Gama, you can make your own shisa. They have various workshops you can enjoy, including one where you can paint a premade shisa made of plaster (small shisa 1,550 JPY (incl. tax), big shisa 2,050 JPY (incl. tax)), or make your own shisa (2,050 JPY (incl. tax)). It isn't often that you can create your own guardian deity!

*Photo is for illustration purposes.


3. Shisa Park Ryukyu Gama


Official Homepage

4. Ryusou Ichiban

The Ryukyu Kingdom was a kingdom from the 15th to 19th centuries that existed in what is now the main island of Okinawa. At Ryusou Ichiban, you can wear clothing from that period to take commemorative photographs. They have a variety of courses available, like their casual Yuna course (4,320 JPY (incl. tax) per person) to their gorgeous Kotobuki course (32,400 JPY (incl. tax) for two people) which allows you to wear traditional wedding clothing, as well as different outfits and situations to choose from. This is perfect for people who want to slip back into the time of the Ryukyu dynasty.

*Photo is for illustration purposes.


4. Ryusou Ichiban


Official Homepage (Japanese only)

5. Taiken Oukoku Murasaki Mura

Taiken Oukoku Murasaki Mura is a resort where they have 101 different types of workshops. Some examples are the making a kankara sanshin instrument, tie-dyeing fabric using Ryukyu aisome dye known for its characteristic indigo color, making Okinawa tofu, swimming with whale sharks, and more. There's a hotel on the grounds as well (starting at 5,000 JPY (excl. tax) per night). This is recommended for people that want to take their time and experience various facets of Okinawa culture.


5. Taiken Oukoku Murasaki Mura


Official Homepage (Japanese only)

There are various workshops and experiences to be had in Okinawa, so please visit as many times as you'd like and try out a lot of things.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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