Thursday, January 17, 2013
Kokusai Dori in Naha, Okinawa, is the city's main shopping street famous for its many souvenir stores, bars, hotels and restaurants. This is a good place to sample Okinawan cuisine and listen to Okinawan music as some of the restaurants offer a dinner with musical accompaniment.
Kokusai Dori is a roughly 2km strip and takes its name from the post-war Ernie Pyle International Theater, named after the famous American war correspondent, Ernie Pyle, who was killed on Iejima, just off Okinawa in 1945.
Kokusai Dori runs from near the Palette Kumoji department store at Kencho-mae Station on the Yui Line to Makishi Station and a bit beyond.
Naha's Kokusai Dori is busy day and night with shoppers thronging the many fun, souvenir shops to pick up Okinawan momentos such as bottles of the local spirit awamori, Orion beer, clay Shisa statues, t-shirts, Okinawan pottery and glassware, surfer goods, Ryuku Islands' sea salt and Okinawan food stuffs, to name just a few of the items on sale. Most stores on Kokusai Dori stay open late until around 11pm.
About half way up Kokusai Dori at the junction with Okiei and Ichiba Chuo streets are the atmospheric covered market areas (shotengai) of the Makishi public market, including Heiwa Dori and Mutsumi Dori.
This market developed from a post-war black market run by Okinawan war widows and now has hundreds of individual stores selling fruit, vegetables, fish, exotic Okinawan pork delicacies along with discounted souvenirs, arts and crafts, and general bric-a-brac.
Not far to the east from Makisihi public market is the Tsuboya pottery area where a number of workshops still produce and sell traditional Okinawan pottery. The Tsuboya Pottery Museum has displays of historical Okinawan ceramics.
Hotels on Kokusai Dori include Hotel JAL City Naha, August Inn Kumoji, Naha Grand Hotel, Kokusai Plaza Hotel, Hotel Yamanouchi, Hotel Palm Royal Naha, Hotel Ocean, Hotel Sun Queen, Hotel Royal Orion, Station Hotel Makishi and the Nansei Kanko Hotel.
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