KOKUSAI DORI

Kokusai-dori Street

Lion dogs, a potent snake liquor, and shopping, food, and fun into the wee hours. These are just a few of the attractions you will find when you take a stroll through the heart of Naha and discover Kokusai-dori, a vibrant street that stretches 1.6 kilometers through the city center. Known as the International Street, Kokusai-dori is a bustling hub that offers a wide range of experiences for visitors. Whether you’re interested in sightseeing, shopping, eating, drinking, or even dancing, you’ll find it all here.

One of the highlights of Kokusai-dori is the street performances of traditional Okinawan music and dance. These performances showcase the rich cultural heritage of Okinawa and provide a unique form of entertainment for both locals and tourists. From traditional folk dances to energetic drum performances, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Another must-see attraction on Kokusai-dori is Habushu, a drink with a preserved viper inside. This unique concoction is made by pickling a habu snake, an Okinawan viper related to the rattlesnake, in awamori, a local liquor. The drink is said to have a distinctive taste and even some valuable properties. It is believed that habushu can have a similar effect on humans as the mating habits of the habu snake, which can mate for up to 26 hours at a time.

For those looking to explore beyond Kokusai-dori, Heiwa Dori is a covered arcade that leads off from the main street. Here, you will find lower prices compared to the main drag, and some stores may even be open to bargaining. Heiwa Dori is home to many small stores and stalls selling traditional clothing, pottery, fresh meat and fish, and shisa statues of all sizes. Shisa are mythical creatures that are half dog and half lion and are considered to be friendly spirits that ward off evil. The twisted faces of these statues might resemble gargoyles, but they hold a special place in Okinawan tradition.

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In addition to Heiwa Dori, visitors should also explore Ichiba-hondori, a narrow shopping street that features a farmer’s market selling local produce. Here, you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, and other delicious treats. Mutsumi-dori is another street worth visiting, offering a variety of shops and eateries.

When it comes to getting to Kokusai-dori, it is conveniently located in downtown Naha near the Naha Bus Terminal and is easily accessible by monorail. If you’re arriving at Naha Airport, you can take the Okinawa Monorail to Asahibashi Station or Prefectural Office Station to start your journey on Kokusai-dori.

Kokusai-dori is a street that truly never sleeps, with many shops staying open until 11 p.m. and the nightlife continuing until dawn. However, if you prefer a quieter experience, Sundays are the perfect day to visit as the street is closed to traffic, allowing pedestrians to explore freely.

The transformation of Kokusai-dori from a swampy track to a bustling street began during the U.S. occupation of Okinawa after World War II. The street takes its name from the Ernie Pyle International Theater, a movie theater that catered to the many U.S. servicemen stationed in the area. Since then, Kokusai-dori has evolved into a vibrant and lively destination that attracts visitors from all over the world.

While familiar brands and chain stores can be found on Kokusai-dori, it is the local stores, eateries, street vendors, covered markets, and performers that truly create the unique atmosphere of the street. From browsing through local crafts and souvenirs to indulging in delicious street food, there is something to satisfy every taste and interest.

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To fully experience the vibrant energy of Kokusai-dori, it is recommended to visit on Saturday nights when the street is at its bustling best. This is when you can catch the street performers showcasing their talents and entertaining the crowds. From fire-eaters to folk dancers and even budding pop stars, there is always something happening on Kokusai-dori.

In conclusion, Kokusai-dori is a must-visit destination in Naha, Okinawa. With its diverse range of attractions, from traditional performances to unique drinks and vibrant shopping streets, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in immersing yourself in the local culture, indulging in delicious food and drinks, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll, Kokusai-dori offers it all. So, make sure to include this vibrant street in your itinerary when you visit Naha, and prepare to be captivated by its charm and energy.

Address And Maps Location:

3-2-10 Makishi, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken


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