Agency for Cultural Affairs, Goverment of Japan
CULTURE

RYUKYU KINGDOM

Naha Airport

Located in Japan’s subtropical resort area of Okinawa, the theme of the exhibition at Naha Airport is “MEMORY”. Two artists have created stunning visual works that connect the memories of the island’s historic Ryukyu Kingdom, drenched in sunlight and color, with the modern world.
For the 450 years between 1429 and 1879, a country known as the Ryukyu Kingdom existed. Its highly unique culture was developed through extensive interaction with China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Traces of this historical kingdom remain to this day, glimpsed through Okinawa's historical sites which reflect distinctive perspectives on nature and richly colored handicrafts—Bingata dyed cloth being among the most recognizable ones.
One of the artists involved in the exhibit is HIGA Satoru,visual artist from Okinawa, who makes expert use of sophisticated programming techniques. HIGA has represented the history and spirit of the Ryukyu Kingdom on a digital platform with a 3D model of Shuri Castle (Shurijo), an icon of Ryukyu history that was largely destroyed by fire in 2019. The other artist, nuQ, is an animator known for her pop-art colors and retro aesthetic. She has created a mural that brings together the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom with Okinawa’s modern role as a tourist destination.

Exhibition theme

RYUKYU KINGDOM
“MEMORY”

Shurijo HIGA Satoru

Portrait, Landscape

The video installation artwork is based on the motif of Ryukyu nature, history, and ideology. It was created by HIGA Satoru, a visual artist from Okinawa Prefecture who masterfully uses advanced programming technology. The artwork begins with scenes of sea and sky connected to the landscape visible from the windows of Naha Airport. It continues by shifting to Seiden, the main hall of Shurijo Castle, and ends by arriving at a space expressing the spiritual world of niraikana, which is where the Ryukyu gods are said to reside. The video is linked to the position of the viewer’s head to provide an immersive experience. A large part of Shurijo Castle, a symbol of the Ryukyu Kingdom, was lost to fire in 2019, but this artwork uses a 3D model of the castle to return it to its former glory in digital space. This piece is both a virtual landscape provided through three monitors lined up like windows and a portrait that explores the Ryukyu identity.

Collaboration: BACKSPACE Productions Inc.
Music: kafuka
Created by modifying "Shuri Castle Digital Reconstruction's 'Shuri Castle 3D model'"
(Licensed under CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Location: Naha Airport International Terminal Area, Fukugi Hall, Floor 3 (February 13, 2021 -)

Shurijo

The Ryukyu Kingdom existed at the center of modern day Okinawa Prefecture, in Japan’s south, from the middle ages to the early modern period (1429 to 1879). Surrounded by the East China Sea to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and the Philippine Sea to the south, the kingdom built a unique culture as a trade transit hub for Japan, China, Korea, and Southeast Asian countries. The remains of Shuri Castle, the heart of the Ryukyu Kingdom’s politics, diplomacy, and culture, preserve the memory of the kingdom and are located in modern day Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture. During its heyday, Shuri Castle and its surroundings were reportedly the site of lively theatrical and musical performances, as well as a cultural and artistic hub in which a great number of art and craft specialists were active.The remains of Shuri Castle’s main hall and the Sonohyan-utaki stone gate, a sacred place for the religious, are registered as UNESCO World Heritage sites as part of the “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.”

HIGA Satoru Official website

Born in Okinawa Prefecture in 1983, HIGA Satoru is a visual artist and programmer who uses computers as a tool to create new forms of expression. Leveraging sophisticated programming techniques such as real-time 3D graphics and computer vision as well as his experience with a diverse array of projects, HIGA has been involved in a wide range of creative activities that include installations, stage direction, VJing, live performances, and virtual reality products. After founding Backspace Productions Inc. in 2019, he recently directed the 3D video concert footage for musician Millennium Parade, as well as the footage for PUNPEE's latest concert, "Sofa Kingdomcome".

Creator's Voice

Ryukyu Culture nuQ

Location: Naha Airport Domestic Terminal Area, Departures Security Checkpoint C, Floor 2 (February 13, 2021 - March 9)
International Terminal Departures Lobby, Floor 2 (March 13, 2021 -)
* The international terminal exhibition area is currently closed due to the suspension of international flights. A renewed exhibition will open to the public when international flights resume.

Ryukyu Culture

Okinawa Prefecture is a collection of islands and Japan’s southwesternmost point region. This area was ruled by an independent state called the Ryukyu Kingdom for 450 years from the middle ages to the early modern period (1429 to 1879). The Ryukyu Kingdom refined influences acquired through trade with Japan, China, Korea, and Southeast Asia to create its own unique culture. The kingdom abounded in cultural artifacts, such as “eisa” performances said to have roots in traditional Japanese events, “shisa” statues made to ward off evil spirits and said to be influenced by the Egyptian Sphynx and Chinese depictions of lions, “yachimun” pottery developed following the transmission of techniques from Korean potters in the 17th century, and “bingata” dyeing techniques of China, India, and Indonesia refined to create a unique technique. The people of this region have also long kept alive the traditional dances and Okinawan cuisine that originated from the imperial court culture of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

nuQ is an animator who creates fresh expressions with a comical pop sensibility. Specializing in eccentric color schemes and dynamic movement, she is active in a wide variety of media forms that include television commercials, music videos, illustrations, and more. She is the winner of several awards, among them the Grand Prize at the 18th Campus Genius Contest and Jury Selection in the Animation Division at the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival for New Tokyo Ondo, plus Jury Selection in the Animation Division at the 23rd Japan Media Arts Festival for The Last Episode. Her key projects in recent years include the “Three Mystic Apes” music video for Wednesday Campanella and the HIBERNATION 1: Healing Spring A Film & Moving Image Festival The Latest in Independent Animation exhibit at the Towada Art Center.

Creator's Voice

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Ryukyu
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