In preparation for my parents’ impending arrival (on Thursday!), I have been doing a bit of work pre-screening potentially funny Okinawan experiences. Don’t get me wrong – there are still plenty of things on the island I have never done and seen. But there are a few classic tourist attractions Yoni and I had yet to visit. Understanding my mission, this past week a couple of chaplain spouses took me down to Kokusai Street, which is located in Naha, the “big city” in the southern half of Okinawa.
I’ve thought a lot about this, and the best analogy I can find for Kokusai St is that it’s the Ben Yehuda St of Okinawa. In case there are any of you out there who don’t understand the reference: Ben Yehuda Street is a shopping, dining and gathering area in downtown Jerusalem that largely caters to tourists. While we all love a good trip to Ben Yehuda, it can easily be said that 70% of the stores are carrying the same products at slightly varying prices. The same is definitely true of Kokusai St – to an even greater extent, if possible. The only difference is that stores on Kokusai are largely selling food souvenir items as opposed to Judaica. I took the following photos in the very large “underground” market that is part of Kokusai; I hope they’ll give you some sense of what I’m talking about.
|one of the entrances to the underground market|
|fancy fruit for sale - if by sale you mean $60 for 3 or 4 mangoes|
|they sell these EVERYWHERE. they are little tarts made with Okinawan purple sweet potatoes - yum!|
|dried fruits...i think.|
|these are little facecloths that Okinawans carry in their pockets or bags to wipe sweat off of their faces. no, i am not joking.|
|yes, some women really wear clothing like this.|
|see, it really is like Ben Yehuda!|
|the roof over the main walkway of the underground market|
|decorative shisa for sale. simply put, shisa are Okinawan guard dogs, placed outside the house, for protection and luck ( I think).|
|habu sake. and by that i mean, large jars of sake containing a poisonous habu snake. no, i don't know why. but i guess people drink it, because they certainly sell it everywhere...|
So, will I take my parents there? The jury is still out. I guess we'll see how they respond to this blog post! But, either way, it sure was a funny way to spend the day...