The annual Shimadakara (“Island Treasure”) Art Festival in Urama, Okinawa celebrates the people, culture, and nature of Japan’s southern islands. One aim of the festival is to showcase the talent of local artisans in handmade crafts and sculptures, often made from natural materials found in their local environment. It also shows an appreciation for utilizing the limited natural resources they must rely on in life through art.
One creation in particular that stood out during this year’s festivities was a tremendous dragon sculpture crafted by Japanese artist and designer Ayako. Titled Ryu Miyagi, the giant sculpture is made from wood and straw sourced from a Chinese fan palm. Featuring braided vines and dried palm leaves, as well as hand-carved wooden teeth, it looks like it could come to life at any moment. In fact, when the wind blows, the natural elements become animated and create the illusion of motion, as though the dragon is actually floating in mid-air.
Ayako positioned the mythical dragon sculpture as if it’s is peaking through the window of one of the village homes. The inspiration for this mythical creature was taken from Ryūgū-jō, an undersea palace from Japanese folklore that’s ruled by Ryujin (the dragon kami of the sea).
The Shimadakara Arts Festival has ended now, however, you can learn more on their website.