Kokusai Dori (International Street)
Get your eat/shop/drink on.
Whether you’re on the hunt for souvenirs or small eateries, this vibrant, fusion-tastic shopping strip is your one-stop shop for everything and anything Okinawan.
Stretching roughly two kilometers through the heart of downtown Naha, Kokusai Dori Street – literally “International Road” – is a shopping strip that’s as unbeatably colorful as the capital city itself.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that this neon-lit tourist hub, lined with feather-leaf palm trees, was once the rough and ready drinking ground for U.S. troops after the occupation of Okinawa following World War II. Transformed from a dusty dirt-path located at the edge of the Tsuboya Pottery District, the development of Kokusai Dori paved the way for the revitalization of Naha as a cosmopolitan blend of different cultures and backgrounds.
Earning its name from the Ernie Pyle International Theater that catered to foreign clientele, Kokusai Dori Street still draws many of the island’s military residents and is well-loved by locals as well as tourists.
This “Miracle Mile,” a postwar nickname coined after the strip’s speedy revival, has also been linked to the eclectic culinary heritage of Okinawa and is the inspirational home base for an array of hybrid dishes – most notably, a Japanese-take on Tex-Mex titled “takoraisu” (taco rice). Topped with spicy ground meat and sprinkled with a generous helping of salad greens and shredded cheese, takoraisu has leagues of converts spreading the love across Japan.
Okinawa is also a desert game-changer, offering up beni-imo tarts (a vibrantly purple sweet potato cake) and the iconic Blue Seal ice cream – an island-based brand boasting more than 30 flavors, including shikuwasa (a locally-grown lime) and Okinawan salt cookie made with Chatan sea salt.