Unless you’re brand new to island (and if you are, welcome!), you’ve heard of Kokusai Street. It’s a popular tourist destination, and has all the trappings of such: large crowds, souvenir shops and expensive restaurants. But what if I told you there’s more to it than glittery shisas and sake? Here are my top 5 picks of not-so-touristy Kokusai Street highlights.
Yatai-Mura is a new food village, opened in June 2015. It’s home to more than 20 eateries. Head here for a real taste of Okinawa, with offerings including oden, ramen, sushi, drinks and sweet treats. There’s also a gift shop, tourist information and bathroom facilities, only a short walk from the hustle and bustle of Kokusai Street. Accepts: Yen
Takara Records, located along Kokusai, has local and international music, musical instruments, equipment, books, CDs, vinyl records and more. If you’re keen to hear local artists, look no further. It’s a nice breather from the throngs of tourists, too. Look out for blue writing on a yellow sign; it’ll be in Japanese, not English. Accepts: Yen and credit card
Okinawa Craft Studios
Opposite the famous ‘Naha tug-of-war’ rope is a small bank of hands-on studios. You can order custom-made crafts, or try it out for yourself! Have a go at making Tsuboya pottery, Shuri textile, Ryukyu bingata and Ryukyu glass. The information desk opposite the craft store has everything you need to get started. Accepts: Yen
Naha City Traditional Crafts Store
Looking for souvenirs with a higher quality, authentic feel? Naha City traditional crafts could have what you’re looking for. Far removed from the mass-produced items found along Kokusai, it’s high quality, hand made crafts from local artisans. Ryukyu glass, textiles, artwork and homeware make up a small portion of their offerings. Accepts: Yen and credit card
Last but not least, Heiwa-dori, a large indoor market off Kokusai Street, popular with tourists. However, if you make it past the plethora of souvenir shops, you’ll find some wonderfu things: deep in the market are local residents going about their day, plus some amazing shops: fresh produce, clothing, homewares and food stands. Purchase fresh meat, fish, drinks, and my favourite thing, desserts. One stall in particular had the best pastries I’ve ever tasted! They’re Aall at a reasonabley priced.
Accepts: Yen only
Check out our map to these places by going HERE