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Pottery Festival in Yomitan Offers Fun for the Family

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-02-28

This weekend, on February 28 and 29, one of the first major pottery festivals of the year will take place at Zampa Misaki Park, located in Yomitan. The "Yomitan Yachimun Matsuri" showcases the work of 21 different local potters from the area of Yomitan. Some of the hand-crafted work that will be on sale, is that of well known potters Jorge Itokazu, Tsunehide Shimabukuro, and Seichi Kuba. The annual festival offers people a chance to pick up many usable items, such as cups, plates, and bowls at very cheap prices. Discounts off regular prices start at about 20% off, and many pieces will be sold even cheaper. There will also be a chance to sit down and spin your own piece on a potter's wheel, with some basic instruction offered. The mini-class is really popular with both children and adults.

Pottery in Okinawa has become famous as a traditional art, which was originally brought to the islands through trade with China, during the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Although Yomitan actually had its own original style of pottery, called kina yaki, it is no longer practiced. However, Yomitan has made great strides forward at trying to revive some traditional crafts, as well as promoting others to continue their survival. Since the early 1970's, the local government has been both supporting and trying to attract local artisans to practice their trade in Yomitan. Their efforts have brought some of the best and youngest potters to the Yomitan area, each who have their own distinct style.

The matsuri not only enables you to view many different styles of pottery at one place, but it also is located at a major sightseeing area. Nearby, is the famous Zampa Misaki light house, which overlooks the deep cobalt blue sea below. The park surrounding the cliff sides of Zampa Misaki is also a great place for kids to run around and play. There are bike paths, a roller blade course, outdoor basketball courts, and huge expansive grassy areas to play, or just relax. The beautiful location enables families to enjoy the entire day. You can also find a restaurant on the premises selling a variety of Okinawan food.

The pottery festival is being planned and organized by the Yomitan Kyodo Hambai Center, which is a co-operative merchandise store that specializes in pottery from Yomitan. The shop was constructed 15 years ago by the Yomitan government, and it sells the work of 36 Yomitan potters. The profits from the shop are all donated to the Yomitan Social Welfare Center. If you can not visit the "Yomitan Yachimun Matsuri" this weekend, but would still like to buy some Yomitan pottery, the shop is also a good place to purchase a nice gift. It is open everyday except Thursday, from 9 am until 6 pm, and you can also find Yomitan glass and fabrics for sale.

Anyone that is interested in seeing the traditional kina yaki of Yomitan, can do so at the Zakimi Castle Park museum. There is also currently a special exhibition of Yomitan pottery being held at the museum until March 31, and all 40 potters from Yomitan have their work on display there. The museum is closed on Mondays, and the entrance fee is only 100. It is located just at the entrance to Zakimi Castle, which is another interesting historical spot you can visit. The museum also houses many other artifacts and cultural displays from the village of Yomitan, and it has a small reference library.

If you would like to either buy a nice gift for someone back home, for yourself, or simply have a pleasant day, stop by Zampa Misaki Park this weekend. Also, be sure to check out both the Yomitan Kyodo Hambai Center and the Zakimi Castle Park Museum for more Okinawan crafts. To get to Zampa Misaki Park, head north on Highway 58 from Kadena. Turn left on Route 6 and go towards Tori Station. Continue past Tori, and follow the signs for Zampa Misaki. It is located just next to the Zampa Misaki Royal Hotel. The festival will be from 10 am until 7 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

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