Okinawa, an arty pdestination? Discreet and preserved destination of the Asian continent, the archipelago nevertheless promises a change of scenery for all art and architecture lovers. Marked by the rhythm of different eras, different traditions and different styles, Okinawa’s cultural heritage is unique in the world, mixing Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Southeast Asian influences. Between art and architecture, here are the most beautiful discoveries not to be missed during your trip to Okinawa!
At the gateway to the tropics, Okinawa is full of cultural treasures. Art is everywhere, you just have to look around you while strolling in the streets of the different cities to find some fancy nuggets. It is not uncommon to come across a traditional temple or a statue that is a few hundred years old. But far from the image of a traditional Japan, Okinawa also has some contemporary surprises in store for visitors. On the main island of the archipelago, in the heart of Koza district in Okinawa City, the history of the region is drawn with street art: 180 meters of frescoes are spread on the walls of the city like a scroll of parchment to tell the story of Koza. An artistic and unusual stroll to discover the street art, Japanese version.
To console oneself with the winter sun going down early, the Okinawa City Botanical Gardens illuminations are a very special event, organized in winter only. For a few months, thousands of lights cover the gardens to give them a completely different look: once night falls, the trees and lawns of the different parks light up to give way to a colorful fairy show.
Another highlight of the archipelago’s cultural calendar, the Yambaru Art Festival invites you to discover art in all its forms: from cinema to music, from design to ceramics and traditional fabrics… Here, the thoughts of modern artists from Okinawa, the rest of Japan and the world are exhibited.
The latest addition to Okinawa’s accommodation offering, the JUSANDI project features 5 exclusive villas, all designed by architect Norihiko Dan, also known for redeveloping Taiwan’s international airport. Each of the homes is decorated in a sleek style, with designer furniture. Nestled in a lush subtropical forest, the villas all offer beautiful ocean views. More here
This conceptual hotel offers a glimpse into the art and culture of Okinawa. The architects designed the hotel to capture the unique local atmosphere of the area. The exterior design is by sculptor Kohei Nawa and the rooms, designed by artist Toru Kamiya, are decorated in vibrant, natural colors. There is even a gallery space dedicated to the exhibition of works by a new generation of local artists and designers.
THE PAST AND THE PRESENT ON DISPLAY AT THE MUSEUM
Okinawa is a natural archipelago, but it is also a cultural destination where it is good to take in history by exploring its emblematic museums.
The Okinawa Prefectural Museum is a must-see to immerse yourself in the past and present of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Located in Naha, it gathers in the same place a history museum and an art museum. Its architecture alone is worth a visit. Built with limestone from the archipelago, the building follows the architectural codes of the “Gusuku”, the Okinawa castles. The art museum exhibits mainly modern and contemporary works nourished by the local culture, while the history museum focuses on Okinawa’s heritage, traditions, archaeology and unique natural environment.
The Sakima Art Museum is another cultural mecca in Okinawa, where some of Okinawa’s history and wartime memorabilia are displayed. Located on the former U.S. airbase in Futenma, it opened in 1994 to spread a message of peace. The permanent exhibition features over 1,000 works, including works by Yayoi Kusama.