Okinawa World’s Ryukyu Kingdom Craft Village
Okinawa World is a group of attractions centered around a cave about an hour and a half from Naha.
Within Okinawa World, there are attractions such as the beautiful Gyokusendo Cave, Habu Snake Museum Park and Kingdom Craft Village. Entry to both the cave and Kingdom Craft Village costs only 1,240YEN for adults and 620YEN for children. Kingdom Craft Village is an area in Okinawa World that focuses on traditional crafts, allowing visitors to interact and create for themselves. So what traditional crafts does the village have to offer?
Right after going through the cave, one is lead into the tropical orchard --- a green house and park where bananas, vanilla bean, mangoes and other tropical fruits are grown. Right outside this area is the Fruit Kingdom where one can purchase tropical fruits (fresh or dried) and drink from a whole coconut! The next area is the crafting studios themselves. First are the Ryuku Glass Studio and the Pottery Studio. Here, one can try their hand at glass blowing, or shape and paint pottery! There are also a number of pre-made glass and pottery products available to purchase.
Next, there is an Indigo Dyeing Studio, Paper Making Studio, and a Bingata Studio. Indigo dyeing involves dyeing fabrics a deep blue with a plant called Ryuku Indigo. The result is similar to western tie-dye material.
At the papermaking studio, one can make and paint a variety of paper products like bookmarks, paper figures, etc. The paper is made by grinding small fibers, soaking them in water until soft, then setting them out to dry in the sun.
Bingata involves applying a variety of colorful paints onto stencils.
Last but not least is the Weaving Studio. Visitors are welcome to try weaving threads using a traditional Okinawan weaving instrument! All of these activities vary in price depending on the products and services chosen. Bags, bookmarks, clothes and coasters are to name a few.
After a day of crafting, one can relax with a cup of cold foamy green tea or coffee at the Bukubuku Teahouse. It’s very refreshing, mostly on a hot day. These beverages can be enjoyed in or around a traditional Okinawan house, and the green tea comes with a snack. There is also a museum and a fish foot bath, where one can rest their feet while little fish clean away the dead skin. After all these activities, one can sum up their day in the craft village by stopping by the Ryukyu Photography Hall. Here, tourists dress up in colorful traditional costumes and get a commemorative photo in a traditional Okinawan house!
Right outside the craft village, is the Eisa Plaza, where four times a day a live show is performed demonstrating traditional Okinawan song and dance. The performance only lasts about twenty-five minutes and is unforgettable!
Next to Eisa Plaza is the Nanto Brewery which specializes in herb liquor, beer and a sake brewed with snakes.
Okinawa World is a great place to experience traditional Okinawa culture and is a must if visiting Okinawa! It’s open 9am to 6pm all year round. The last entry for the cave and craft village is 5:00 pm. For more information, please visit Okinawa World’s homepage at http://www.gyokusendo.co.jp/okinawaworld/en/!