‘Tis The Season to Be Shopping

 With the exhilaration of beach activities dwindling down as the season comes to the “ber” months, it’s time to hang dry those swimming trunks and get ready for the holidays. You may think that since Okinawa is an island, shopping options are limited. Actually, quite the contrary. Just look at Hawaii or Hong Kong. It’s almost as if there is an unwritten rule that the smaller the island, the bigger the popularity for shopping. To help you out on your holiday shopping, below are some of the top picks of shopping malls rated for their popularity and thriftiness on the island.

AEON Mall “Rycom”

If you’ve been on the island long enough, you’re probably wondering what ever happened to the JUSCO malls? Well, first of all it was rebranded as “AEON”, and secondly, in 2015 they converted an entire golf course to make way for AEON “Rycom” what is known now to be one of the biggest shopping malls in Okinawa, even comparable to the ones in mainland Japan. On this list however, it only ranks as the second biggest mall but due to the timing of when it was built, I believe it has become the most popular. With the location conveniently in Okinawa city, Rycom mall consists of five floors (including Basement 1) and has many of the island’s “first store” including some notable brands such as Forever 21 and Bershka. They also have a wide selection of restaurants scattered all around the mall and also on the top floor with a spectacular view. For more information, check out https://okinawarycom-aeonmall.com/

San-A Parco City Mall

The big kahuna on the list, San-A Parco City Mall, is another big mall and the newest. Recently opened in 2019, this mall is located in Urasoe city sandwiched between the ocean and Camp Kinser. San-A is one of the biggest shopping mall companies to originate in Okinawa and already has a significant presence all around the island. Their newest flagship Parco city is a perfect hang out and shopping center that caters to almost any need. Whether it’s a weekend outing with the family or shopping for gifts, they have it all. One huge benefit that I found in Parco city (or other San-A malls) compared to the others is that it has their exclusive shops which can only be found in their department stores such as Tokyu Hands and GU – an absolutely perfect place for holiday gift shopping. It’s definitely worth your time to take a look. To find out more, check out https://www.parcocity.jp/

Okinawa Outlet Mall Ashibinaa

Sometimes a holiday sweater just isn’t enough to express your feelings for that special someone, am I right? In those cases, Ashibinaa to the rescue! This shopping mall has one of the largest collections of outlet shops (not to mention, international brands) all conveniently located side by side at the southern part of the island. From Nike and ABC Mart, to Gucci and Prada, Outlet Mall Ashibinaa caters to a wide array of clientele. Food options on the other hand are surprisingly a bit limited considering the amount of shops but there is another set of restaurants right across the street. One pro tip that I would like to share is that before you start and go all out on the shops, make sure to stop first in the visitor’s center as they often have coupons to give away. It’s also tax free if you are able to show a visiting passport. For more information, check out https://www.ashibinaa.com/

Mangasouko

How about for the cheap? Come on, don’t act like we all haven’t been there. Nothing wrong with pinching pennies. Frugality is a virtue in my book. I present to you the recycled shop Manga Souko – A Japanese style thrift shop on steroids which you would probably need a bit more than 99 cents contrary to the popular pop song by Macklemore. Visiting the thrift shop is an experience on its own. They have everything from BB guns to music instruments to branded sunglasses and watches. My goodness, it can be quite overwhelming the first-time in. One thing to know is that although majority of the stuff in there are used, there are some brand new unopened items as well if you look hard enough. They have 3 major shops in Okinawa each one with its own special something to offer. A definite must go even if to just visit and window shop. For more information, check out https://www.mangasouko.com/#anchor

Depot Island (American Village)

Chicken soup for the shopaholic? Say you don’t really need to buy anything for anyone but you just need to shop to detox some of your daily stress? Depot Island seems like the place for you. Not only do they have their many different shops and restaurant selections to choose from but also has a spectacular location which almost seems to have come out of a dream. Located next to the sunset beach in Chatan, depot island is the “hip” area of where to just chill around with your friends and loved ones. With the convenient landmark of the lit-up Ferris wheel in Okinawa (in fact, I believe the only one on the island), Depot Island is almost guaranteed to provide you with a hoot and a half of a day. Also, just as another bonus tip, it’s a perfect place to buy beach wear and souvenirs. For more information, check out
https://www.depot-island.co.jp/