Have paint will travel: Miyazono working on the mural depicting Okinawan folklore near Stewart Lane in George Town. — The Star / LIM BENG TATT
GEORGE TOWN: There is a new wall painting in town and this time, it tells a folk tale from a far-flung island in Okinawa, Japan.
Located at an alley on Stewart Lane here, the mural by Japanese backpacker Takayuki Miyazono depicts the story of Kigimuna, which are mischievous, fairy-like spirits that inhabit large banyan trees.
“Kigimuna – also known as tree fairies – have red hair and are about the size and shape of a little boy,” Miyazono said.
“The story of Kigimuna is a very important part of Okinawan culture.
“These stories have been told to children as a fairytale by their parents and grandparents.”
“Besides being good fishermen, the Kigimuna are sometimes seen wandering along beaches and river banks. They usually sit under trees and they like people,” he said.
The 33-year-old Okinawan truck driver, whose hobby is painting, said he was inspired by the various murals he had seen in Penang since arriving in September.
Miyazono, who started on his painting on Dec 4, said he would work from morning until evening using acrylic paint.
The painting – comprising four frames — also has a pair of Shisa, mythical animals resembling a cross between a lion and a dog.
“Shisa is a traditional decoration, which are placed in pairs near the door or on roof tops. It is believed that these lion-dog guardians protect homes by warding off evil spirits,” Miyazono said.
“The left animal has its mouth shut to keep in the good while the right has its open to fend off evil.”
In his free time, Miyazono loves to hike and jog at the Penang Botanical Gardens and Monkey Beach in Teluk Bahang.
Having travelled to countries including China, Sri Lanka and parts of South East Asia, Miyazono, who made his first trip to Penang four years ago, said he loved the island for its “friendly people”.
“This is my longest stay during my travels so far. I really love it here. Penang is very similar to Okinawa.
“I have also visited Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi.
“Food in Penang is great,” said Miyazono, adding that his favourites were nasi kandar, hokkien mee and char koay teow.
Miyazono said he hoped to be able to stay in Penang permanently in the future.
“Currently, I back-pack for six months a year and work the rest.”