Sunday, July 29, 2012

adventures on kokusai st

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...

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