On May 15, 2022, Okinawa prefecture celebrates the 50th anniversary of its return to Japan.
To commemorate this major milestone in Okinawan history, Wancher is thrilled to introduce you to another traditional-art-infused fountain pen - Dream Pen Ryukyu Tsuikin - The Twin Dragons!
A brief history of Okinawa
The Ryukyu Islands first appeared in the ancient Chinese history book entitled "Sui Shu” around 607. After almost one and a half decades of going through the Chinese tributary system, two dynasties, and the Satsuma invasion, Ryukyu Kingdom was demolished by Meiji Government in 1879, and Okinawa prefecture was born. Yet again, when the Pacific War ended in 1945, Okinawa was once again parted from Japan as the U.S limitary remained under their governance for the following 27 years.
On May 15, 1972, Okinawa was officially returned to Japan, marking a new milestone in both Okinawa and Japan's history.
The origin of Ryukyu Tsuikin art
Despite the complicated history, the culture and traditional crafts, especially lacquering, fortunately, have flourished, preserved, and continued until today. Old documents record that Okinawan lacquerware appeared as soon as 1427, with a purchase record from Emperor Xuanzong of the Ming Dynasty. After the establishment of the First Ryukyu Dynasty (1429), the Kaizuri Bugyosho (a magistrate's office for lacquerware production) was founded.
In Okinawa, where politics and culture are deeply connected, lacquerware and lacquer ornaments were indispensable for ceremonies and rituals, not only for royalties and warrior families but also for local communities. Especially, after the invasion by the Satsuma Domain, the need of lacquerware increases as they need to tribute to both the Tokugawa shogunate and Chinese emperors. Therefore, the Ryukyu Kingdom put the Kaizuri Bugyosho under its direct control to strengthen lacquerware production.
During this period - the highest peak of Ryukyu lacquer, Ryukyu governors even sent craftsmen to China several times and brought in various lacquering techniques. One of those craftsmen - Higa Josho has developed the Okiwnwan-own technique - Tsuikin.