You can have a lot of fun eating, shopping, and drinking. Whether you want to buy souvenirs or watch traditional folk-dancing, you can find it all on Okinawa’s Miracle Mile or Kokusai Dori Shopping street.
Kokusai Dori runs one point six kilometers through the heart of Naha and has become one of the most colorful shopping streets in Japan.
Located on Okinawa island’s East China Sea coast, Kokusai Street is teeming with attractions. The neon-lit tourist center is always a beautiful and exciting destination, lined with tropical feather leaf palm trees.
How Did Kokusai Street Get Its Name?
Kokusai Dori was built in Naha after WWII. It is about two miles in length Naha and was named after the Ernie Pyle International Theater.
Why Is Kokusai Dori Sometimes Called The Miracle Mile?
It’s hard to believe it, but Kokusai Street was mainly swampland just after WWII. But after the war had ended, the area we now know as Kokusai Dori developed at lightning speed.
As a result of its rapid economic development, locals and GI’s began calling it The Miracle Mile.
How Do I Get To Kokusai Dori?
Kokusai Dori is situated within Naha’s downtown area near the Naha Bus Terminal, which you can access quickly via the cities Monorail network.
From Naha Airport, you can take the Monorail to the Makishi terminal, which is just steps from Kokusai Street and its covered arcades (shopping streets).
What’s The Best Time of Year to Visit Kokusaidori Street?
While Kokusai Dori is a great place to visit any time of year, arguably the best time to come is during the gorgeous summer months. The weather is warm and sunny, and plenty of festivals and events are taking place.
You will also find that the shops and restaurants are more crowded than usual, so it’s a great time to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the street.
Have no fear if you are unable to visit during the summer. Fall and winter also offer up many pleasant surprises. Though a little cooler than in the summer months, the weather is still very mild.
Plus, you will find that there aren’t as many tourists around during this time of year, so you’ll have a chance to enjoy Kokusai Dori in relative peace.
Are There Cultural Events On Kokusai Dori?
There are a variety of cultural events that take place on Kokusai Dori throughout the year.
Some of the most popular events include the Okinawa International Film Festival, the Naha Giant Tug-of-War, and the Bon Festival. Here is a brief preview of just a few of the events you can expect to experience:
Okinawa International Film Festival
The Okinawa International Film Festival is a popular event that takes place every year in October. The festival features a variety of films from around the world, and it’s an excellent opportunity to see some of the best new movies that are debuting in Japan.
The Naha Tug-of-War is an annual event. It dates back to the 17th century and features a wild tug-of-war between two teams of men using a rope that weighs 40 tons.
The event is always a popular attraction, and it’s a great opportunity to see some traditional Ryukyuan culture.
The Bon or Obon Festival is one of the most popular events held in Kokusai Dori and all of Okinawa. The festival celebrates traditional Okinawan culture, and it’s an excellent opportunity to see some of the best folk dancers in all of Japan.
The festival takes place every year in August, and it features a variety of performances, including the 10,000 People Eisa Dance Crew. It’s a great event for people of all ages.
Shuri Castle (Revival) Festival
Shuri Castle, unfortunately, burned down in 2019, so festival organizers have focused on using the festival to bring awareness and help facilitate the castle’s reconstruction.
The Shuri Castle festival takes place in autumn and celebrates the legacy of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus.
Where Should I Shop On Kokusai Dori?
The best place to start your shopping spree is at the T Galleria by DFS. This high-end shopping mall is home to a variety of luxury brands, and you’ll be able to find everything from designer clothes to watches and jewelry.
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, head to the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum.
This museum complex is home to various souvenir shops where you can find everything from traditional Okinawan handicrafts to postcards and keychains.
What Tourist Items Are Must-Haves?
Ryukyu Glasswear is a type of glassware that is unique to Okinawa. Its bright colors and intricate designs characterize it, and it’s been used to make everything from vases to bowls to cups.
The glassblowers of Okinawa are renowned for their skill and creativity, and their glassware is highly sought-after by collectors.
There are a number of shops on Kokusai Dori that sell it, or you can find it at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum.
Shisa are traditional Ryukyuan lion-dog figurines used to ward off evil spirits and hold on to good spirits. You purchase them in pairs, with one lion-dog having a closed mouth and the other having an open mouth.
Shisa can be found at most souvenir shops on Kokusai Street. There are various designs, and most of them are pretty affordable.
Sanshin is a traditional Okinawan stringed instrument that’s been around for centuries. It has a unique sound that’s been described as a mix of a guitar, a shamisen, and a banjo.
There are a number of shops on Kokusai Dori that sell Sanshin, and you can also find them at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum.
Kariyushi Shirts feature a unique design that’s inspired by the Ryukyuan culture. They come in a variety of colors and designs, so you’re sure to find one that you like.
The shirts are very popular with tourists, and you can find them at most stores on Kokusai Dori.
Habushu is a distilled rice liqueur sold with a local venomous snake preserved within the bottle.
The venom of the habu is thought to have medicinal properties, and it’s been used to treat everything from arthritis to cancer. Some people even claim that habushu can increase sexual potency.
Beni Imo is a type of sweet potato that’s native to Okinawa. It has a deep purple color, and it gets its name from the red pigment that’s found in its skin.
Beni Imo is a popular ingredient in Okinawa cuisine, and it’s used in everything from soups to desserts. You can find beni imo dishes at most restaurants on Kokusai Dori.
Where Should I Eat On Kokusaidori Street?
There are many restaurants on Kokusai Dori where you can enjoy a delicious meal. Some of the most popular establishments include:
This restaurant is known for its yakitori (chicken skewers), and it’s a great place to enjoy a casual meal.
This izakaya (Japanese pub) is a great place to try some traditional Okinawan dishes, and the bartenders are always happy to recommend new and exciting drinks.
This sushi restaurant is one of the most popular on the street, and it’s always busy with locals and tourists alike.
What Can I Find At The Covered Arcades?
There are several covered food market arcades just off of Kokusai Dori, where you can find everything from fresh seafood and produce to delicious desserts and home goods.
Some of the most popular arcades include:
Makishi Public Market
This arcade is the largest and most popular market in Naha. It is home to a multitude of seafood stands where you can buy everything from tuna and salmon to octopus and shrimp.
There are eateries on the second floor and stalls that sell traditional Okinawan snacks on the main floor.
Heiwa Dori (Peace Street) is a covered arcade that’s located just off of Kokusai Dori. It’s home to a variety of shops and restaurants, and it’s a great place to find souvenirs or eat a delicious meal.
Just a few minutes’ walk from Kokusai Dori, you will find Ichiba-Hondori–another covered arcade. Spend your time browsing the stalls and shops that locals also favor, and you’re sure to find some gems.