Okinawan sanshin to be designated as heritage craft

October 11, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 10, the design committee of the Okinawa Craft Industrial Promotion Council held its second meeting at the Okinawa Prefectural Government office. In the meeting, they decided that the sanshin is appropriate to be handled under the prefectural ordinance for Okinawan traditional crafts. After the council receives the report from the committee, they will submit it to the Governor of Okinawa at the end of November, and the governor will then designate the sanshin as an Okinawan traditional craft.

It will become the 26th prefectural traditional craft designated in this manner and the first in two years, after Chibana hanaori, an Okinawan textile designated in 2010. It is expected that the designation will enable people to distinguish authentic Okinawan sanshin from those that are increasingly being manufactured overseas.

The design committee examined the requirements of the prefectural ordinance for Okinawan traditional crafts and judged that the sanshin meets the following criteria. That the craft item is used in daily life, that the essential parts used in the manufacturing process are made by hand, that the manufacturing technique has over 80 years of tradition behind it and that the craft item is made from materials that have been used since olden days. Sanshin craftsmen practice their craft in several areas.

Yoshinori Arakaki, the head of the design committee, said, “This development will enhance the status of craftsmen, promote the passing on of techniques, strengthen brand power and help to boost the local economy.”

Shinya Matayoshi, the executive head of the Okinawa Sanshin Production Cooperative lobbied for sanshin to be registered as Okinawa traditional craft. He said, “The prefectural designation will lead to promote the status of Okinawan sanshin being distinguished from the foreign products. I hope that craftsmen create high-quality sanshin and take even greater pride in their work.”

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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