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Murasaki Mura is ideal place to try all things Okinawan

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2003-03-15

If you're one of the many who are dying to try your hand at a few Okinawan arts and crafts, Murasaki Mura is the place to visit. The large village was actually built in 1992 as a set for the six month television drama Ryukyu no Kaze-the wind of the Ryukyus-a film series on the history of the Ryukyus during the 16th and 17th centuries. The show was televised from January to June 1993 by he Japan National Broadcasting Association (NHK) and was popular with Okinawans on island as well as those abroad. The sets of the television show were very realistic renditions of ancient structures of the Ryukyuan period. After the show came to an end, the village was left in place and still stands as an excellent example of what life during the Ryukyu kingdom period was like. The park also offers a great variety of Okinawan arts and crafts for you to try as well as other activities that are fun for visitors of all ages.

Murasaki Mura can be translated as Purple Village. As Yomitan Village is famous for it's sweet potatoes, this is a fitting name for the park, but purple is also a very special color on Okinawa in that it was often worn during traditional events such as Eisa dance or as an indication of prosperity.

Currently, the park has 18 small factories where you can try as many of the 65 crafts they have available to learn. This is a great place to try new things, and chances are, even if you've tried nearly every single Okinawan craft, you'll still find something interesting to make. Some of the crafts available include brown sugar (800), Ryukyu glass (1,800), Yachimun pottery (1,500 - 2,000), indigo dyeing (1,200), Can-Can Sanshin (3,000), sanshin lessons (1,500), seashell and coral wind chime (1,200), Hanaori and Minsaori weaving (700 - 1,500), Bingatta (500), Shikui shisa (1,000), mini-shisa (1,500), candle art (1,000), and Okinawan cooking (800+). Most of the lessons take between thirty minutes and an hour, so if you want, you should have plenty of time to try a few different crafts.

If you'd rather just wander around the park instead of trying the different crafts, Murasaki Mura is a very pleasant walk. There are several different Ryukyu-style buildings to check out. Be sure to bring your camera. Murasaki Mura is very photogenic. Children may find the small petting zoo to be of interest with dozens of hens, roosters, and rabbits running wild. In fact, one of the humorous aspects of the park is the number of roosters and hens that seem to wander the park freely. Horse riding is also available for 500 for 5 minutes.

The park also has a small restaurant with a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for 880 and dinner from 6:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. for 1,500. There is also a fairly large gift shop with a great variety of Okinawan goods including shisa, awamori, pottery, and more. Admission to Murasaki Mura is very inexpensive, but be sure to bring extra money for the extra crafts and activities. The entrance fee is 300 for elementary school students and younger children, 400 for middle school students, and 500 for Highschool students and adults. The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but you must enter the park before 5:30 p.m.

Driving to Murasaki Mura is pretty easy. Head north on highway 58 past Kadena Circle towards Yomitan village. Turn left at the Iramina intersection onto route 6. A Lawson convenience store will be on your left. Head straight past Torii Station, and when route 6 splits to the left and right in a Y-shape, keep to your left. After the road splits, turn left towards the ocean and then turn right. Drive about 700 more meters and you'll be right next to Murasaki mura. Free parking is available. If you drive too far, you'll reach the Alivila Hotel. For more information, check out their website (Japanese) at www.murasakimura.com.

When you enter Murasaki Mura, you'll be given an all-Japanese language pamphlet of park information. On the map, there are several different keypoints listed by number. Here is an English translation to help make your visit a little easier and more enjoyable.

Locations on pamphlet map
1. Okinawa home cooking facility
2. Okinawa traditional candy-making facility
3. Candle art
4. Ryukyu indigo dying
5. Basho-himo accessories
6. Coloring shisa, and shisa explanation class
7. Bingatta explanation & lesson
8. Wall hanging shisa lesson & Mini-shisa
9. Weaving (hanaori) - Ryukyu dress-up
10. Handmade can-sanshin
11. Seashell & Coral wind chime
12. Weaving (lunch mat)
13. Yachimun pottery
14. Handmade brown sugar
15. Ryukyu glass making
16. Horse riding

Also, there is a small go-cart race track right behind the Murasaki Mura parking lot called the Kukuru Yomitan Circuit. This place is a blast! Here you can race for 5 minutes--about 5 to 10 laps--for 1,200 for adults or 600 for high school students and younger children.

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