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Bingata Exhibition with Sachiko Nishinda in Naha

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-11-10


Sachiko Nishinda’s Bingata Exhibition is now taking place at Shikina-En Garden in Naha City. As we reported in our October 21-27 issue, Nishinda has won many art awards in the past and has been designated as one of Okinawa Prefecture’s intangible cultural assets since April 1997.

"Bingata" is Okinawa's specialty dyed fabric with unique patterns. In the Ryukyu Kingdom times, only the royal family and the high-ranking families in Naha area were allowed to wear Bingata fabric. It later became associated with Okinawan classical dance. Today, Bingata artists uphold the fabrics as a valuable traditional legacy of Okinawan art.

For the Shikina-En exhibition, a tree called "Fukugi", which is designated as Naha City’s tree, has been used as one of the dying materials. "Fukugi" is dubbed "hapiness tree" among Okinawan people and they are planted around the houses as a protection against typhoons.

At the exhibition, the Nishinda's world of Bingata is on display at "Udun", or the main hall, of Shikina-En Garden, which was built at the end of the 18th century as the Okinawa royal family's vacation house. It was also designated as a national scenic spot in 1976.

In the Tea Room, kitchen, Waiting Room of "Udun", approximately 30 fine pieces of Nishinda's work, including ones that express human relations and "Nirai-kanai" (an utopia that is believed to exist beyond the ocean) can be enjoyed as well as the life of the royal family at "Udun".

"I feel honored and blessed to have an opportunity to hold my exhibition within a cultural property such as Shikina-En,” Nishinda stated in her speech at the opening ceremony. “ Please, enjoy Bingata, which is a form of elegant Okinawan culture 500 years old, as well as the structures of Shikina-en.”

She also expressed the hope that visitors feel the preciousness of lives through the hues made from "Fukugi". Many visitors from inside and from outside the island appreciated the beautiful designs and colors of Bingata fabric on the first day of the exhibition.

"The patterns and colors of Bingata are quite different from those in mainland of Japan,” Megumi Noguchi, a high school student from Gunma prefecture who visited the exhibition as part of a school trip, said. “The primary colors are used quite a lot and that gave me the impression that Okinawa has a very distinctive culture."

"I'm very glad that I came out to the exhibition. These beautiful pieces of Bingata remind me of the good old times of Okinawa," said Youko Kinjo, another visitor who was taking a close look at one of Nishinda's Bingata Kimonos.

The exhibition continues through Sunday. Admission is free, however, a small fee (300 yen for adults and 100 yen for children) will be charged at the entrance of Shikina-En Garden.

Directions: Shikina-En Garden is located in Maji, Naha City. Enter the express way from the nearest entry and exit at Naha (No.1). At the first traffic light, make a left turn and enter Route 82. Go straight along the street and make a right turn at the traffic light at Maji (there's a small sign. Don't miss it.) After about 10 minutes, the parking lots for Shikina-En Garden will be on the left.

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