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Okinawa “Bingata” Genius to Hold Exhibition

Date Posted: 1999-10-23

From November 1st through the 7th, one of Okinawa’s most talented artists will be offering to the public a view of her aesthetic ingenuity. Sachiko Nishinda, a magnetic Okinawan lady absolutely gifted in the traditional art of “bingata”, will be holding an exhibition at the Shikina-en Garden in Naha, the place where Ryukuan royal families used to entertain high level guests and dignitaries from China.

Bingata is Okinawa’s specialty dyed fabric, produced by the use of colors and stencils. In those days, drastic laws restricted the wearing of bingata to the royal family and high-ranking Shuri and Naha families.

Sachiko Nishinda was born in October 1943 in Shuri, Naha City. She later became interested in the “bingatacraft”, and won the Japan Folkcraft Association award in 1973. In 1978, she was accepted at the 33rd New Craftperson Exhibition, and won Awards during the 37th and 38th Exhibitions in 1982 and 1983. She also won Best Award at the 7th Okinawa Prefecture Industrial Festival (Nov. 1983) and the Mayor of Naha City Award in at the 7th traditional Art and Craft Exhibition (Oct. 1984). Apart from her highly prized exhibitions in Okinawa, she also traveled to the United States in October 1992, where she gave lectures and held exhibitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. During the same trip, she also held artistic exchange with native Americans.

Sachiko Nishinda was designated as Okinawa Special Intangible Cultural Property by the Okinawa Prefectural Government in April 1997.

Here is an interview with this talented woman.

Sachiko Nishinda: “ I hope to stir people’s imagination with my works.”

Japan Update: Could you tell our readers what will be the major features of your next exhibition, as compared to past ones?

Sachiko Nishinda: I have had to present my works in exhibitions so many times in the past, but there're two major differences with my next exhibition. One is the place where the exhibition will be held. The event will be held at the "Shikina-en", which was the second residence of the Okinawa royal family and which has been designated as national scenic spot. This exhibition will be the first event to take place at "Shikina-en". So, I want the visitors to enjoy this beautiful traditional Okinawa structure as well as my works. The second difference is the material of my works. There's a tree called "Fukugi", which used to be planted around houses for protection in Okinawa. This practice is still going on in several parts of the island. Recently, many "Fukugi" trees were cut down for road repairs and for exploitation in the northern area. My friend and watched what was happening around the area for a month. Then I asked the house owners to let me have those "Fukugi" trees, so I can use the tree barks for my work. I promised to bring the trees back to life in my work, instead of letting them waste away so sadly. I used barks of 300-year-old "Fukugi" trees for the works that my guests will see at this exhibition, and that's definitely something new about the event that’s worth seeing.

J.U.: You are presently considered as one of Okinawa’s most treasured cultural assets. What do you feel about that recognition?

S.N.: I'm very happy that I am now in the position to use my works and send out the important message that "life is precious.”

J.U.: What do you feel about the reaction of Japanese and Okinawan authorities towards your achievements and your personality? Do you get to meet them often?

S.N.: In fact, I always have the chance to meet people from all walks of life, including the less fortunate people. But I am much closer to the common man than to these authorities. I feel happier when I have the chance to meet people in pain, because those encounters inspire me and give me ideas for my next works of art.

J.U.: Do you have any special message for those who will want to visit your exhibition?

S.N.: Through my exhibition, I hope people will experience the spirit of "Ichariba-cho-de"*. I hope many visitors interact with other visitors, as well as my works, during the event. I also hope that the visitors’ imaginations will be stirred while they are looking at my works.

*"Ichariba-cho-de" --- Once you meet a person in good faith, the person becomes your brother or sister.

Sachiko Nishinda Exhibition
Date: November 1st(Mon)-7th(Sun)
Time: 9:00-17:00
Place: Shikina-en Garden in Naha City

* There's no admission fee for the exhibition. However, a small fee will be charged at the entry to Shikina-en Garden. Admission for Shikina-en: 300 yen for adults, 100 for children. Discount rate for groups of up to 20 people 240 yen for adults, 80 for kids.

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