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Story of Chinen Family

Shimogibo Chinen Family

Among Bingata artists, there are those who have a family lineage called the "three head families" who served the Ryukyu Dynasty in the past.
The Chinen family, the Shiroma family, and the Takushi family are called the three main Bingata families.
The Chinen family learned karakami techniques and in-kinshi from China, and were given the status of chikudonpechin, making Bingata to be worn by the samurai class and above.
By the way, when counting the generations of the Chinen family, the first generation was counted from "Chinen Sekiko.
Chinen Sekiko was not a Bingata artist, but a court musician whose skills were recognized by the dynasty. 
He was 11 generations before the present day, but his ancestors also dyed Bingata.
This Chinen Sekiko became the first new member of the Chinen family, and the rest of the history follows.
So, how is the Chinen family connected to Bingata?
It was connected by the younger brothers of Chinen Sekiko, "Second son Chinen Chikudon-pechin".

*Chikudon-pechin is a rank and title in Ryukyu Kingdom.
The family lineage of the Chinen Bingata Laboratory is "Shimogibo Village Chinen," the eldest son of the second son Chinen Chikudon-pechin.

Shimogibo Chinen Family Tree

[the 1st] The second son, Chinen Chikudonpechin (brother of Sekiko) (Bingata)

[the 2nd] Chinen Chikudon-pechin (Bingata)

[the 3rd] Chinen Chikudon-pechin (Bingata)

[the 4th] Chinen Chikudon-pechin (Bingata)

[the 5th] Chinen Sekisho (Bingata)

[the 6th] Chinen Sekitei (Preservation of Bingata Materials)

[the 7th] Chinen Masajiro (early death)

[the 8th] Chinen Sadao (Bingata)

[the 9th] Chinen Masato

[the 10th] Chinen Toma (Bingata)



Then there was a man named Chinen Seko, who taught his family the art of Bingata after the Second World War.
He is the second son of "Kamiigibo village Chinen," the second son of Chinen Chikudon-pechin.

Chinen Sekko is the person who has been making Bingata and keeping it alive even during the postwar slump. Without him, Bingata in Chinen might have disappeared.

Kamigibo Chinen Family Tree

[the 1st] The Scond son, Chinen Niya (Bingata)

[the 2nd] Chinen Chikudonpe-chin (legitimate son) (Bingata)

[the 3rd] Chinen Sekiro (or Sekiaki) (Bingata)

[the 4th] Chinen Sekishu (Bingata)

[the 5th] Chinen Seko (Bingata)

[the 6th] Chinen Sekigen (Bingata)


Both have the same ancestor, Chinen Chikudonochin. Both families are important Bingata families. 


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Chinen family tree

Memorandum of order from the Ryukyu Dynasty to the Shimogibo Chinen family: collection of the Chinen Bingata Laboratory.

About Chinen Bingata Laboratory

Shim = Shimogiho Village Chinen

Kam =  Kamigiho Village Chinen

The Chinen Bingata Laboratory (Shimogibo Chinen) was founded in 1972 by Chinen Sadao, a member of the three Bingata head families.

From its foundation to the present day, the Chinen Bingata Research Institute has been researching and creating new methods and works of art every day, while preserving traditional techniques.

It is the result of a statement from Chinen Seko.

"We never know when a good piece of work will be created. The evaluation of the work varies from person to person. We study every day in order to create them."

The institute holds these words in its heart.

Also, in the book "Bingata: Bingata that Dyed the Heart of Okinawa" (Tairyusha: re-released in 1976), Chinen Sekiko writes: "Now that the main family has started Bingata again, I am relieved that the Chinen family tradition is secure."  (quoted from p. 174)"

"Main family" refers to the Chinen Bingata Laboratory.

Seko considered our family (Shimogibo Chinen) to be the main family. Thanks to his words and heart, we have continued our studio.

However, the history of Chinen Bingata is what it is today because of all the people involved in the Chinen family.

At present, Chinen Toma (Shim) has taken over the Chinen Bingata Laboratory and dyes Bingata with the staff of the studio.

We hope that the customers who encounter our kimonos will be happy. We put this thought into the colours and patterns, and create our works every day.


As long as civilisation continues, I want to preserve Bingata in whatever form it takes.

We want to develop the industry so that as many people as possible can continue to be involved in Bingata for a long time.

We want to convey the history and techniques of Bingata to people and make them think that the value and importance of Bingata is important.

I will continue to do my best to show you wonderful Bingata.

Bingata of the Chinen Family

Shim = Shimogiho Village Chinen
Kam =  Kamigiho Village Chinen

Before World War II, Bingata was rarely made due to influences from outside Japan, such as the invasion of Satsuma and the abolition of feudal domains by Japan. Although there were still some Bingata makers such as Chinen Sekisho (Shim) and Chinen Keishu (Kam), most of them were in danger of disappearing by the early Showa period.



Under such circumstances, Chinen Sekishu (kam) and Chinen Sekki taught Bingata techniques to Chinen Seko (kam).
Seko became a person who was necessary for the preservation and succession of Bingata techniques after the war.

However, there are some things that cannot be left behind only by themselves.

From the Taisho era (1912-1926) to the early Showa era (1926-1989), a large number of katagami were stored at Chinen Sekisho's house. According to Sadao Chinen, there were many katagami hanging in the warehouse.

It is said that many of the large patterns among the existing classical patterns were learned from China and created by Chinen family. Therefore, a great many katagami must have been left behind.

Furthermore, Yoshitaro Kamakura, a dyeing and weaving artist, came from the Japanese mainland, received a cart-full of katagami from the Chinen family and brought them back to Kagawa Prefecture.

Because of this event, Bingata materials and stencils were not burned in World War II.

A document left by Yoshitaro Kamakura states that he received almost all of the katagami, but even in the 1940s, there was a large amount of katagami in the attic of Chinen Sekisho's house.

Before the war, Sekisho was not completely out of business, but devoted himself to the preservation of Bingata and its history. This was passed on to Keisada.

After the war, Seko (Kam) could not make Bingata during the daytime, but did military work for a living. It was a time when it was difficult to make a living just by making Bingata. At that time, Chinen Sadao (Shim) came to learn Bingata from him.

Seiko says,
If you, the head of the family, take over, I will be praised by my ancestors when I go to the other side. So, good." He said.

From there, the Bingata technique of Seko was combined with the Bingata materials inherited from Sekisho and Sekisada (Shim), and the Bingata of Chinen was revived.

In 1972, Sadao Chinen restarted Shimogibo Chinen Bingata as the "Chinen Bingata Laborator"'.

Seko's son, Chinen Sekigen (Kam), also entered the world of Bingata in earnest, and Seko and Sekigen later established the "Chinen Bingata Kobo" in Shuri.

In this way, the Chinen family's Ryukyu Bingata was revived.


Present day,

Chinen Bingata Research Institute (Shimogiho) and

Chinen Bingata Studio (Kamigiho).

There are two Chinen Bingata workshops in Okinawa.

If something had gone wrong, there might not be Bingata today,

This is the Chinen Bingata that continues to the present day.

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