I had the opportunity yesterday to go with a few friends to visit the studio of the sculptor Kinjo Minoru. He is one of my friend's neighbors, and said friend's husband speaks Japanese (oh, how great that would be!), so they have really been able to come to know his story since he speaks limited English. Kinjo's most recognizable work here in Okinawa is probably this giant Shisa dog found right next to Cape Zanpa, but Kinjo's other sculptures sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars in mainland Japan.
Kinjo's story is a memorable one. He remembers being forced to go live in a cave with his mother during the Battle of Okinawa while the Japanese military forced his father to go fight (he died at the young age of 24 in a different battle of WW2). Kinjo also remembers being forced by Japan to give up his Okinawan language and only speak Japanese. Consequently, he is very anti-government: both Japanese and American. He is Okinawan, not Japanese. He is so nice and courteous to us, but he is the number one protestor of ospreys outside the American bases. I got a kick out of how he displays a picture of one of his arrests in his studio. Stickin' it to the man.
Anyway, Kinjo gave us a little tour of his studio and his sculpture garden. Most of his sculptures are large and politically charged. The smaller ones we saw in his studio were softer: mostly of women. I love the one of the old woman that I posted below.
^^^a depiction of Japanese forces invading Okinawa^^^
And what would a day in Okinawa be without a walk on the beach? Kinjo lives just a short walk from it.
It was a wonderful morning I will never forget!