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Kokusai-dori Street 国際通り


Lion dogs, a potent snake liquor, and shopping, food and fun into the wee hours

Take a stroll through the heart of Naha and discover Kokusai-dori, a street that stretches 1.6 kilometers through the city center.

This bustling street has it all. Whether you're set on sightseeing, shopping, dining, browsing Okinawan crafts, or experiencing island folk music, you'll find it here on Kokusai-dori.

Don't Miss

  • Street performances of traditional Okinawan music and dance
  • Habushu, a drink with a preserved viper inside
  • Heiwa Dori, a covered arcade off Kokusai Dori
  • The farmers' market at the end of Ichiba-hondori

How to Get There

Kokusai-dori Street is located in downtown Naha near the Naha Bus Terminal and is also easily reached by monorail.

From Naha Airport, take the Okinawa Monorail to Kencho-mae Station, or get off at Prefectural Office Station if you want to start at the other end of Kokusai-dori Street.

Quick Facts

Many shops stay open until 11 p.m.

Nightlife on Kokusai-dori continues until dawn

The street is closed to traffic on Sundays

From simple track to lively thoroughfare

As you wander down Kokusai-dori Street, the city thoroughfare bursting with color and activity, it is hard to imagine that before World War II it was little more than a simple track surrounded by fields.

The street takes its name (which literally translates as International Street) from the Ernie Pyle International Theater, a movie theater that catered to the many U.S. servicemen stationed there after the war.

Open all hours

Kokusai-dori really is the street that never sleeps, always buzzing with activity. The familiar brands, chain stores, and convenience stores that are a familiar sight the world over are also present on Kokusai-dori, but the true appeal of the street is created by the many local stores, eateries, street vendors, covered markets, and street performers.

The familiar brands, chain stores, phone shops and convenience stores that are a familiar sight the world over are also present on Kokusai-dori, but the true atmosphere of the street is created by the many local stores, eateries, street vendors, covered markets, and performers.

The best time to catch the street performers is on Saturday nights when Kokusai-dori is at its bustling best. Another good day to visit is on Sunday when the street is closed off to traffic. From fire-eaters and folk dancers to budding pop stars, there should be entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

A drink with a bite

Among the many cafes, restaurants, bars, and stalls on Kokusai-dori Street, you'll find plenty of opportunities to sample one of Okinawa's specialties, awamori.

The liquor is distilled from rice and is similar to shochu, a Japanese spirit. Most brands have an alcoholic strength of 25-30%, but some can be as high as 60%.

For an extra kick, you might want to try habushu, in which a habu snake (an Okinawan viper) is pickled in awamori, giving the drink a distinctive taste.

Heiwa-dori Arcade

As you walk down Kokusai-dori Street, make sure you don't walk past Heiwa-dori, a covered arcade leading off to the right about halfway up. Here, you'll discover many small stores and stalls selling traditional clothing, pottery, fresh meat and fish, and shisa statues of all sizes.

Shisa are mythical creatures—half dog, half lion—that are at the heart of Okinawan tradition. Their faces might make them look a little like gargoyles, but they ward off evil and dispel misfortune. You will usually see pairs of shisa standing side by side, one with its grotesque mouth open and the other closed. It is said that the open mouth is to ward off evil spirits and the closed mouth to keep good spirits in.

In addition to Heiwa-dori, keep your eyes peeled for Ichiban-hondori, a narrow shopping street that features a farmer's market selling local produce. Mutsumi-dori is also worth visiting.

* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.

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