[Okinawa] ~ Finding Naha

 Repeat wander on Naha’s busiest streets  – 03.25-26.16

Spent my remaining day in the city (late afternoon after ZAMAMI day trip and half morning before my flight to Fukuoka) revisiting the areas of KOKUSAI and MITSUMIBASHI and in this entry I share with you my random discoveries on souvenirs, beer and food.

*  Small alley surprises

While Naha is more known for the main stretch of shops and restaurants in Kokusai, smaller and more interesting establishments can be found in alleys that branch off from other shopping areas in likes of Heiwa.

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* Overload of souvenirs from sea-themed dreamcatchers to naughty postcards

Whether one is looking for souvenir for self or as thoughtful take-home (translated in Filipino as “pasalubong”), there are plenty of options in the many stalls that line Naha’s shopping streets.

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A personal favorite are these dreamcatchers / chimes / lanterns. I could have bought a lot if not for worry I might have a problem squeezing everything on my backpack

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Body-shaming

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Now, age-shaming

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What have you done, Popeye the SailorMoon?

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Someone got extra monstrous with cookies

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Am not sure what these are made of but these handcrafted minis are adorable

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* Some stalls getting all gimmicky

When competing with many, this one tried to stand out via these girls dancing to some perky music. It did make people stop though I couldn’t say whether this move had boosted sales.

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* Izakayas on the road

Not as common as in other areas in Japan but on my last night, I got luckily when I spotted this stall for eating and drinking in what looked like a workplace district. It was over a quick bottle of beer but I even had this friendly chat with a couple who was planning to go to the Philippines. I wanted to drink more but I was trying to catch the train ride so our chat was cut short.

 

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Sake options but all I wanted was beer

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* More beer at a small bar nearby

Since I still wanted to drink had it not I was scared I might miss the train, I dropped by this bar near my capsule hostel that I have been curious about since day 1. Called BAR BIRD, it’s a cozy place perfect for that nightcap. Less the people, it kind of reminded me of my watering hole in Cubao Expo.

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* Capsule hotel experience

Since I first tried one in Osaka, this form of accommodation has been my favorite whenever I go to Japan. Not only is this the relatively more cost-efficient option, I am a more a fan of its minimalist principle of comfort.

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They even have TV though I couldn’t seem to make mine work

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Having the basics with some simple fun doodles on the wall

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Another interesting experience that is typically linked to staying in capsule hotels is PUBLIC  BATH. Although being naked with strangers takes some getting used to, I consider it one of the unique things to try in Japan.

Experience usually starts by getting assigned to lockers for footwear and a locker for clothes. Latter is usually near place for shower and post-shower regimen. Basics are again provided such as hair dryers, ear buds, tissue and even hair brushes.

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While there is clear gender segregation for shower areas, a floor is typically dedicated for a common lounge where one can drink, eat, watch TV etc.

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When done, one just needs to reverse steps until back to step 1 of giving back the shoe locker key.

 

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* Market of pig’s face, colorful seafood, condiments etc

I had trouble finding MAKISHI MARKET as it is a modest building tucked within the alleys in Heiwa and Mitsumibashi. Being no food expert and having no intent to eat at that time, I just took visual pleasure in interesting finds from full pig faces to colorful giant seafood. While visually good, I remember leaving with a heavy heart though oddly feeling sorry for such beautiful creatures which are about to end up in people’s stomachs.

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* Yukishio salt ice cream

I am no fan of ice cream but just had to try this delicacy of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with salt of fun flavors from tea to pepper.

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* Spotted cats

One of the things I notice when someplace is whether it is a dog or cat place. Naha has been more of the latter.
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* Film screenings / movie cafe

Appeal of movies are universal but my heart flutters more whenever I see places like this that are dedicated for such. I wanted to but lacked the time to see one but I was willing to watch one even in language I cannot understand.
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* Coffee and beer in one

I am not so much into coffee but definitely into beer, preferably with the chill vibe of a coffee place. On my last hours in Naha was a surprise find of latter by the corner while on my way back to the main shopping street.

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Was still closed when I first passed by it

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But a little bit after lunch, it opened

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* Jef’s goya (bittermelon) burger

I expected more uniqueness so it was a letdown when it tasted like burger with veggie patty. But still,  I just had to try this local fastfood meal.

 

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* Small city with monorail and building sprinkles

As in my stories and snapshots on my first day, one of Naha’s charm is its being a laidback city. While this realization is what welcomed me then, I had the same thought when I bid goodbye.

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With its funky colors, it stood tall

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Goodbye and really saw you soon, Naha! 

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How to get to places

KOKUSAI DORI and nearby eat and shop areas of HEIWA DORI and MITSUMIBASHI  are within walking distance from Miebashi Station via the monorail.

STAR CAPSULE, the hostel I stayed in is within walking distance from Asahibashi Station. About less than a minute walk from the capsule hostel is the public bath. 

NAHA AIRPORT is also reachable via the monorail with Naha Kuko stop.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Kristina Correa (or more known to almost all people in her life as Teng) is based on the city of Manila in the Philippines and whenever she can, cools off with routine and gets her doses of happy someplace else. She doesn’t mean to inform and help plan (as obvious with her laziness with details) but hopes her stories and photos can inspire you to create your own.

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