CONTRIBUTED BY JOELLE YAMADA
Heidi has family coming to town who have a specific interest:
My two aunts are coming to town in May. They are intrested in Japanese fabrics and such. I have heard about Bingata here in Okinawa. So my question is where can you go to look at, buy, and try bingata. I have heard there is a factory down in Itoman city.
When I was at Shuri Castle last spring, they had a map that showed bingata factories on the island. (Wish I still had the map, because instead you’re going to get my convoluted directions from memory!) But there were quite a few right around the castle and so I went down to the Hotel Nikko Naha (also called the Grand Castle Hotel — you can see it when you are driving around Shuri — very tall) and asked for some help. The nice ladies there actually walked me across the parking lot (back in the direction for the driveway to the hotel) and through a wooden gate (see pix) and up some stairs (see pix) to homes where MAGICALLY bingata was being made. If instead of going into their parking lot you continued on, the paths are to the left marked with a post with yellow writing (if memory serves!) – I think there were many more back there, but we only went to one. If you’ve ever stumbled upon something amazing while wandering backroads, this was THAT feeling!
We went into one home/factory and were able to watch 10 or so artists working as well as an older man who we understood to be the teacher/master. All very cool, really!! We bought a couple of little things because anything bigger would have broken the bank — but it was so cool to watch them do it.
Have you seen or bought or done bingata?? If so, please let us know and help Heidi out with her “tour guide” responsibilities!