Ryukyu Garden is proud of Okinawa traditions
By Jun Ikemura
An Okinawa firm proud of the Ryukyu customs, culture and history is reaching out to visitors and others to promote the islands.
The Kouwa-kai group is promoting a special Okinawan world at their facilities, which include Kouwa farm, Kitanaka Kouwa Garden, Flower Shop Kouwa Garden, Oshiro Shamisen Shop, Chikako Uema Ryukyu Dance Office, and Kouwa Auto Service. Kouwakai Chairman Hiroshi Oshiro says they “really want to show Okinawan culture and traditional entertainment to people whatever they are and wherever they come from, because I think we Okinawans are losing our island mentality currently, and I want to keep the style, thinking way or hospitality and hand it down through generations.”
The Kouwa headquarters is located near South-East Botanical Gardens in Chibana, Okinawa City. http://goo.gl/maps/8sccs Kouwa farm is located near the corporate headquarters. http://goo.gl/maps/8sccs. Oshiro says the group’s facilities offer something for everyone, to learn and appreciate Okinawan culture and history. He says the group was designed and built because “I think we have to do our filial duty to old people who are patient and revive this island.” He says he then decided to establish his own entertainment space, garden space, and cultural facilities.
The Garden Space at the headquarters office is free to visitors to look around. It is imaged after Shuri Castle. Flower gardens are also free to look around, just give a call for an appointment in advance. The gardens grow flowers for the annual Ocean Expo flower festival every year. The traditional Okinawan dance show is also free to everyone! It’s professional, not compromised just because it’s free, says Oshiro. “We really want to show genuine Okinawan culture with entertainment to people of the world, and want you to feel something about Okinawa,” Oshiro adds. Those free services are his passion. He says the biggest pleasure for him is when guests have fun.
Chikako Uema a professional dancer and Ryukyu entertainer takes visitors through spiritual stages with Okinawan live music by Oshiro and his son Shintaro and daughter Misato. There is no exact time schedule for the stage performances, but people planning a visit can make an appointment with them. Misato Oshiro can speak English and encourages folks to feel free to ask. Tours of 10 or 20 people together are encouraged to visit and watch the stage. Call (098) 974-9400 for reservations.
At the headquarters area, there are not only gardens and the entertainment stage facility, but a sanshin training room too. Shinnosuke Oshiro teaches sanshin for anybody, even for those who can’t speak Japanese. Actually, he’s had some international sanshin students before. Visitors interested in playing sanshin can ask and take a class. He can also fix sanshins, and invites visitors with a broken sanshin that needs repairs, to “just bring it in.”
The manager of the garden section, Kimiko Yamaguchi, says, “Our flower garden area is in full bloom throughout the year, so please feel free to come and enjoy flower beauty. Flowers have a power that makes people relax, and you are all welcome!”