VIDEO: A crafty day in Onna Village, Okinawa

VIDEO: A crafty day in Onna Village, Okinawa

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Japan

On a sunny autumn day, I headed to Onna Village. I have been there many times the past few years for activities such as snorkeling near Cape Maeda and water obstacles at Manza Beach. This time, however, I was in the mood for something crafty.

If you have been to this tourism hotspot, you may have noted many craft stores dotting the street. They offer opportunities for hands-on cultural experiences such as making Ryukyu glasswork and painting shisa dogs. On this day, I was looking to try my hands at making accessories with shells.

As I searched the web the previous day, cool-looking accessories presented by a shop named Aki Kobo caught my eye, so I decided to go there. Like many other crafting programs, I had to make a reservation on the web.

Although a bit smaller than other shops in the area, this place was easy to spot as it stood at the corner of Route 58 and a street headed to Cape Manzamo, and its entrance was adorned with colorful flowers. Adjacent to the shop was a small studio. That’s where I was guided to by Mr. Oosaki, the owner of the shop. (Being a shy man, he declined to have his full name mentioned in this article.)

One step inside, many necklaces, bracelets, and photo frames displayed on the wall came into my view. Made from shells and sea glass, there was a large variety of colors and textures. But at the same time, all the crafts had a very organic and subtle look to them, which I liked a lot.

Among several options, I chose a course to make a necklace. Priced at 2,500 yen, this choice let me try sanding a green turban shell and threading it along with beads and metals. Although I had no confidence in my dexterity, there was no need to worry. The most challenging part, which is cutting the shell into a shape, was taken care of by the owner as it takes a lot of skill and experience.

At first, the process of just sanding the shells seemed to be too simple to be entertaining. But as the shell shined more and more, I found myself immersed in the work. And there are so many kinds of beads and metals to choose from. I could have made it colorful with red and yellow beads. But I chose to stick to modest colors such as cyan and green.

It took me about 10 minutes to finish. Once I was done, Mr. Oosaki helped me tie knots in the thread to make it a necklace. Since I liked the finished product a lot, I put it on for the rest of the day and felt like a cool surfer from the West Coast.

With the cool accessory hanging from my neck, I hopped in my car for a 5-minute drive to Cape Manzamo.

Meaning “a field wide enough for 10,000 people to sit,” this broad coastal cape sits on a cliff 20 meters from the surface of the. During the pandemic, many tourist spots in Okinawa went through renovations, taking advantage of the “downtime.” Mazamo is no exception. In October 2020, a visitors center with a food court and shops opened. I was curious to see if that changed the mood of Manzamo.

From the parking lot, I could see the reception center housed in a modern two-story building. Luckily, the admission fee is only 100 yen. Past the gate, the broad view of the field came into view, bringing back memories of my previous visit 10 years ago.

Without shrubs or trees to block my view, it felt very exhilarating to walk in the field. As I approached the west end of the cliff, I could see a famous cliff in the shape of an elephant's nose. The water in vibrant blue was washing against the foot of the cliff. The east side of Manzamo commanded a wide view of Manza Beach and Nabee Beach. After enjoying the view of the beautiful blue ocean, I was feeling hungry. So, I decided to grab a bite at Nabee Beach to enjoy food and the ocean view at the same time. In less than 10 minutes, I was having soba noodles while seated on a terrace seat of an eatery facing Nabee Beach.

With the sea wind rocking the green turban shell and beads on my neck, the soba noodle tasted exquisite.

Shops offering workshops in Onna Village

Aki Kobo

GPS Coordinates: N 26.49889, E 127.85385

Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Closed on Sun., Mon., Thu.   


Reservation required for workshops

For more info, contact the shop at

Kirameki Kobo

GPS Coordinates: N 26.43490, E 127.78223


*This shop offers workshops on making Ryukyu glassware.

Okinawa Kogeimura

GPS Coordinates: N 26.491165, E 127.848084

Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. (shop); 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (workshop)


*This shop offers workshops on making Ryukyu glassware.

Tida Kobo

GPS Coordinates: N 26.505116, E 127.863326

Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.


*This shop offers hands-on workshops on making Ryukyu glassware. Reservation required. Visitors need to pick up their finished product the following day or later at the shop.


GPS Coordinates: N 26.504971, E 127.850138

Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Apr – Oct), - 6 p.m. (Nov – Dec), - 7 p.m. (Jan – Mar)

Admission Fee: 100 yen

Nabee Beach

GPS Coordinates: N 26.502089, E 127.857868

Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. ( - 7 p.m. from Jul through Sept)

*Open to water activities from Apr through Oct

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