Yambaru Byobu Exhibition opens Tuesday at OIST

Yambaru Byobu screen

Yambaru Byobu, the collective name for traditional folding screens with the animals and plants of Yambaru painted on them, is the theme for a month-long exhibition starting next week at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Onna Village.

Ichiro Kikuta

The exhibition, which runs October 1st ~ 31st, including weekends and holidays, features the works of artisan Ichiro Kikuta.  Admission is free for the exhibition, which is open daily 9 a.m. ~ 5 p.m.    The Yambaru Byobu Exhibition feature’s Kikuta’s creations with folding screens, in which he uses craftsmanship handed down over a millennium.

Kikuta, who was born in Fukushima City in 1961, has created a variety of his works in nature-rich areas such as Kaga City in Ishikawa, Bekkai-cho in Hokkaido, and Yonezawa City in Yamagata, using a technique based on the Yamato-e-style sumi ink painting created by Sotatsu Tawaraya at the beginning of the Edo Period.  His love of nature brought him to Okinawa’s Kunigami-son in 2006, where he continues to paint nature scenes.

The elements of this exhibition are on the folding screens of ancient times. Kikuta uses the fauna and flora found in northern Okinawa’s Yambaru region to create the sumi ink used in his works.  He calls the exhibition “a revival of our predecessors’ knowledge and view of nature.”

OIST President Jonathan Dorfan has his own views of Kikuta’s works, describing them as “beautiful hand-painted screens that evoke the unique qualities of Okinawa vegetation and wildlife, and create an ambience of peace and reflection.”  Dr. Dorfan points out that OIST is proud of this exhibition, noting that “it brings the beauty of Okinawa into the corridors of our university.”