Lovely Arts, Superb View: Ichihanari Art Project+3

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

In Japan, people often say fall is a season for art and culture. And, although the high temps and sunshine of the island may make Okinawa feel like an endless summer, the locals celebrate the changing of the season with art and culture in their own ways.

Ichihanari Art Project+3 is one of many events on the island that mark the seasonal transition. From Sept. 20 through Oct. 2, this art festival welcomes people to four small islands west east of Okinawa’s main island: Ikei, Miyagi, Henza, and Hamahiga, where 54 works of art are displayed at various locations.

Unlike a conventional art festival held at a museum, this one takes place in the middle of the local communities. Unique art in in the form of drawings, fabrics, photos, and dolls are displayed on local streets, at traditional Okinawan houses and seaside spots.

The setup gives it the feel of a treasure hunt. With my map in hand, I encountered various works of art as I made my way through the maze-like streets. Some of the art I saw included small colorful dolls in the shape of pig and a large balloon in the shape of “Obaa”, which means grandma in Okinawan dialect.

Some of the stops included a hands-on experience, while others offered up a tasting to go along with the art. “Coral tea,” a unique babble tea was served by Cheng-Tao Chen, an artist from Taiwan who pays visual homage to coral spawning near the islands.

Some of the art made me smile with humor, while others dazzled me with traditional beauty. The location of the works allow you to enjoy the quiet nostalgic mood of the old streets and traditional houses, while getting superb views of the ocean.

“We positioned each artwork in a way that will allow people to see amazing views and scenes that the islands have to offer,” said event coordinator, Toshihiro Ikemiyagi of the Institute of General Tourism Product Association of the Uruma City.

These islands are not that far from Okinawa’s main island. From Camp Foster, it’s about one-hour drive east to reach Ikeijima, the farthest of the four. Once reaching “Kaichu Doro,” a 2.16-mile road that runs over a turquoise blue ocean between Okinawa’s main island and
Henza Island, the closest among the four, it’s an easy drive around the islands.

Halfway down the road, there is a roadside station on the left where you can buy a ticket and brochure with a map for 500 yen. And make sure you kick off your autumn adventure in Okinawa by saying hi to “Obaa,” a cultural icon of the islands, who sits right by the ticket office.

 

What to know:

Date: Sept. 20 – Oct. 20
Location: Ikei Island, Miyagi Island, Henza Island, Hamahiga Island and Kaichu doro
Time: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cost: 500 yen, available at roadside station on “Kaichu Doro” (4 Yonashiro Yahira Uruma City 904-2427). Tickets are good throughout the period.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Ichihanariartproject/
Additional Info: “Ichinahanari,” which means the farthest in Okinawan dialect, refers to Ikei Island. This started as an event for this specific island. In its 5th installment, the event expanded the venue to the three surrounding islands. The ticket office is near the Uruma City Marine History Museum.

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