Yomitan Village in Okinawa: A trip to find your favorite pottery and see a climbing kiln in “Yachimun no Sato”
Have you ever heard of “yachimun”?
“Yachimun” means pottery in the Okinawa dialect. You may see some items when you eat dishes in Okinawa.
Yachimun is relatively thick, plain, warm pottery in various shapes, such as plates and jugs, with bold drawings and line carvings. While some expensive ones are considered fine arts and crafts, many are suitable for daily use, attracting people with their unique texture and feel. Many drawings on yachimun are of natural things unique to Okinawa, such as fish and plants. They are also popular souvenirs.
Okinawa soba served in yachimun
Yachimun is produced all over Okinawa, but Yomitan Village, located in the middle part of the main island, in particular has many studios, along with the famous Tsuboya area in Naha City.
When the production using “climbing kilns” (wood-burning kilns built on a slope) that produce black smoke started to be regulated due to the urbanization around the Tsuboya area in the 1970s, many artisans including Jiro Kinjo, the first Living National Treasure in Okinawa, moved their studios to Yomitan to continue yachimun production using a climbing kiln. Currently, the area around the climbing kiln has 19 studios, forming a craft village called “Yachimun no Sato.”
Since I love craftwork, I visited “Yachimun no Sato” to look for superb examples of pottery.
For more information on Tsuboya Yachimun-dori Street in Naha City, please read this article:
It takes about one hour from Naha Airport by car to get to Yomitan Village, which also has Zakimi Castle Ruins, which is on the World Heritage List, and Cape Zampa, with a great view of the sunset.
Zakimi Castle Ruins
I took a city bus from the Naha Bus Terminal. After about an hour’s bus ride, I walked about 10 minutes from the bus stop and saw the entrance of the craft village.
It is great to walk around the village. Surrounded by nature, you can fully appreciate the relaxing, quiet atmosphere.
Visiting the studios one after another, I was looking to discover my favorite yachimun. The 19 studios are independently operated and they all produce yachimun but each studio has its own unique characteristics and style. Everything I saw was very nice, and even though the various items apparently have similar drawings, they have different styles, so I was carried away looking at them, losing track of time.
The displays in front of the studios are wonderful.
Here and there, I encountered statues of shisa, a lion-like creature from Okinawan folklore, which watches over and protects people.
Yachimun no Sato has a joint shop, where you can check out individualistic works by different artisans at one place.
Kitagama Joint Shop
Toothpick holders displayed on the sign board. I liked the way they were used to decorate the succulent plants so much that I couldn’t help getting one for myself.
The climbing kiln is a must-see when you visit Yachimun no Sato. The combination of the red roof tiles and the blue sky is very impressive.
Another popular craftwork in Okinawa is Ryukyu glass. At the glass studio near the entrance of Yachimun no Sato, I was welcomed by its mascot cat. I followed it and saw a dog taking a nap in the shade.
In winter, an annual pottery fair is held there, attracting many yachimun fans.
I highly recommend a visit to this place to discover your favorite yachimun.
Yachimun no Sato
2653-1 Zakimi, Yomitan-son, Nakagami County, Okinawa Prefecture
About 70 min. by city bus from Naha Bus Terminal. Get off at “Oyashi-iriguchi” bus stop, and walk for 10 min.
*The information herein is as of August 2021.
I am Chiyo from Kyoto and now I live in Tokyo. I love penguins, art, and travelling alone. I also love vehicular travelling, so I take time and travel by local trains and buses to enjoy landscapes and scenery from the windows with a feeling of relaxation. I am also into “nui-dori,” which is to take photos of stuffed toys together with scenery and food!