Okinawan Odyssey: Tokyo and the Ryukyu Islands

Lee Talbot, Curator

Registration for this trip is now closed.

Join Lee Talbot—curator of the exhibition Bingata! Only in Okinawa—and fellow museum members for a study tour focused on Japan’s southernmost prefecture. This exciting tour will begin with three nights in fast-paced Tokyo to visit museums, textile collections, and contemporary workshops. Next, participants will fly to the sunny islands of Okinawa, known for warm weather, emerald waters, and rich textile traditions. Over eleven days, participants will enjoy exclusive access to artist studios and museum collections, and opportunities to experience traditional Okinawan food and culture. This custom-designed tour is truly one of a kind—specifically tailored to focus on the exquisite textiles of Japan and Okinawa.

Detail of bingata textile

Tour Itinerary (June 16-30)

Friday, June 16 (Tokyo)
Arrival in Tokyo, followed by welcome dinner. 

Saturday, June 17 (Tokyo)
Special, textile-focused tour of the Tokyo National Museum, viewing Edo-period kimono and theatrical costumes as well as seventh- and eighth-century textiles in the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures. After lunch at the Tokyo National Museum, visit Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, then learn about today’s cutting-edge textiles at Nuno Tokyo.

Sunday, June 18 (Tokyo)
Morning focus on the history of the city of Tokyo, with tours of the Edo Tokyo Museum and the Fukagawa Edo Museum. In the afternoon, visit the textile-focused Amuse Museum, then walk through the Asakusa neighborhood to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest and most popular Buddhist temple. In the evening, an optional trip to the Kabuki theater.

Monday, June 19 (Tokyo/Naha)
Morning flight to Naha, Okinawa. Today’s focus will be the Ryukyu Kingdom’s royal culture, with a tour of Shuri Castle, a special viewing of Okinawa Churashima Foundation’s superlative textile collection, and a visit to a studio specializing in shuri-ori, fabric originally restricted to the aristocracy.

Tuesday, June 20 (Naha)
Morning visit to the Shikina-en Royal Villa and Gardens, then learn about Okinawa’s history, culture, and natural environment with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Okinawa Prefectural Museum. In the afternoon, visit the Naha City Museum of History, with a special viewing of royal textiles.

Wednesday, June 21(Naha/Kumejima)
Day trip to Kume Island, unusual in Okinawa for its long history of silk weaving. Learn about the history and technique of local silk production with a tour of the Kumejima Tsumugi Museum.

Thursday, June 22 (Naha)
Tour the ancient sacred site of Sefa Utaki, then visit Haebaru, a village famous for the production of kasuri (ikat). In the afternoon, tour the Urasoe Museum and its unrivaled collection of Ryukyuan lacquer, then visit Yomitan, a village known for centuries as a center for the production of fine, float-weave patterned textiles.

Friday, June 23 (Naha)
Our focus this morning is on Okinawa’s banana fiber, basho-fu, with a visit to the village of Kijoka, the center for basho-fu production. Tour the scenic Nakijin Castle site, then visit Chibana, a village noted for its distinctive float weave (hana-ori) textiles.

Saturday, June 24 (Naha/Miyako)
Morning flight from Naha to Miyako, an island famed for beautiful scenery, coral reefs, and white sand beaches. Tour the landmarks of Miyako Island, including the Irabu Bridge and the Snow Salt Factory.

Sunday, June 25 (Miyako)
Visit the Miyako Island Museum, then learn about the weaving of Miyako-jofu, a fine, indigo-dyed double ikat, from the harvesting of the ramie plants to the dyeing and weaving of the yarns.

Monday, June 26 (Miyako/Ishigaki)
Fly from Miyako to Ishigaki Island, then learn about the production of Yaeyama-jofu, the island’s distinctive double ikat.

Tuesday, June 27 (Ishigaki)
Morning tour of Ishigaki island, including beautiful Kabira Bay, where Mikimoto’s famous black pearls are harvested. After lunch, visit Taketomi Island, with Okinawa’s best-preserved traditional architecture.

Wednesday, June 28 (Ishigaki/Naha)
Learn about the weaving of Yaeyama minsa, a colorful cotton fabric, then fly back to Naha and visit the Tsuboya Pottery District.

Thursday, June 29 (Naha/Tokyo)
Free morning in Naha followed by an afternoon flight to Tokyo, where the group will have a farewell dinner.

Friday, June 30 (Tokyo)
Tour concludes.

Beach in Okinawa

Cost Summary

Shared accommodations: $11,500 USD
Single accommodations: $13,500 USD

A $500.00 registration deposit is required to hold your spot and will be deducted from your final balance. This deposit is non-refundable.

Price based on minimum of twenty  participants and is subject to revision or cancelation based on potential changes in taxes, vendor fees, and/or lower number of travelers.

Included in this tour: in-country travel, accommodations, most meals, private transportation throughout tour, and museum/program admission. Not included: travel to Tokyo, travel insurance, alcoholic beverages, or tickets to Kabuki Theater.