Bingata Textiles: Preserving a Royal Tradition in Okinawa

October 18, 2022
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Part of the Living Traditions Series
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Tuesday, October 18, 2022, 7 pm ET

The bingata method of textile dyeing is a vibrant artistic tradition with a long history on Japan’s subtropical Okinawan islands. Originally reserved for the sumptuous garb of the royalty and ruling class of the Ryukyu Kingdom, these traditional hand-dyeing techniques are still being carried on by craftspeople in Okinawa today. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, this program explores the fascinating history, unique methods and current state of bingata with textile specialist Ginny Soenksen, and bingata craftsman Touma Chinen. The first event in our multi-part Living Traditions webinar series this season.

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Ginny Soenksen, Director, Madison Art Collection and Lisanby Museum
Touma Chinen, 10th generation head of the Shimujiibu line of the Chinen family of bingata craftsmen; President of the Chinen Bingata Institute

Dr. Masato Ishida, Director, Center for Okinawan Studies, University of Hawai`i, Mānoa

7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT)    Discussion and Q&A

Program Details
This is a free event, with advance registration required. The program will be live-streamed through YouTube, and registrants will receive the viewing link by email on the day before the event. Participants can submit questions through YouTube during the live stream.

About the Speakers

Toma Chinen and his studio, Chinen Bingata Insti-tute, are derived from the Chinen family. Dating back to the Ryukyu Dynasty, the Chinen family has a long history of producing bingata. The Chinen family is one of the three oldest bingata studios in Okinawa. Originally, they were called “Shitagibo-Chinen.” Today, Chinen Bingata Institute is mainly producing kimono and obi. Toma Chinen, the cur-rent head of the studio, studied design in Kyoto and overseas. He works vigorously on a dyeing method that requires especially complex tech-niques and focuses on using oborogata, a layered technique, and ryomengata, a technique of dyeing both sides of a textile. He took over the studio in 2017 and has started various collaborations with other production areas and industries. 

Virginia “Ginny” Soenksen is the director of the Madison Art Collection and Lisanby Museum at James Madison University. She has previously worked at the Fralin Museum of Art, the Ringling Mu-seum, the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Cul-ture, and the Frist Art Museum. Her work on educa-tional programming and audio-visual exhibition com-ponents earned several awards from the Southeast-ern Museums Conference and the Tennessee Asso-ciation of Museums. Her publications include sever-al articles in Textiles Asia, and Textiles of Japan: The Thomas Murray Collection (Prestel, 2019). She earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Mary Washington and an MA in Art History from Tufts University. She is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in Strategic Leadership Studies at James Mad-ison University. 

Masato Ishida, Associate Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Center for Okinawan Stud-ies at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, received his academic training in Japan, Canada, and the United States. He joined the Department of Philos-ophy at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa in 2009 after completing his PhD in philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University. 

Ishida has been serving as Director of the Center for Okinawan Studies at the University of Hawai`i since 2018. He specializes in classical American Philosophy and traditional Japanese phi-losophy, and is particularly interested in modern intellectual movements in Okinawa. He has pub-lished articles on prewar and postwar Okinawa and has given numerous talks on Okinawa-related themes in mainland Japan, Okinawa, and the Unit-ed States. 

About the Living Traditions Series
Many of today’s most popular and newest trends are rooted in ancient Japanese tradition going back centuries, if not millennia. Through multiple distinct, single-topic webinars, the Living Traditions series unravels the historical journeys of some of the most iconic facets of Japanese culture through conversations between thought-provoking experts and cultural stewards on how they maintain deep-rooted traditions in the present day. Bingata Textiles: Preserving a Royal Tradition in Okinawa is the first event of the multi-part Living Traditions series. Upcoming programming will continue to be announced. Previous lectures focused on topics including Japanese gardens, Zen and spiritual practices, manga and anime and architecture.

Living Traditions webinar series is co-presented with the Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden and supported by the Government of Japan.

Japan Society programs are made possible by leadership support from Booth Ferris Foundation and Shiseido Americas. Additional support for cultural programs is provided by an anonymous donor and the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund.

  • Tuesday, October 18, 2022
  • 7:00 pm
  • Online
  • Timed Tickets