Minatogawa gets new life as boutique shopping area
September 14, 2016
Okinawa’s Urasoe City has a hidden gem — a modest slice of land obscured by the chaos of Route 58.
Minatogawa Stateside Town, a U.S. military housing area in the 1960s and ’70s, has been given a new lease on life.
The neighborhood of 60 homes was returned to Okinawa in the ’80s and later purchased by a private company with the goal of turning the houses into small businesses.
Each of Minatogawa’s narrow streets is named after an American state. Stroll down them and you’ll find that the once-boring rectangular military structures have been boldly decorated to represent the businesses inside.
Each shop has its own charm, and there are a variety of eclectic businesses, from cafes and beauty shops to vintage stores and shops offering original Okinawan goods.
Looking for a day of pampering? Check out Nail & Hair on Virginia Street. Curious about locally made crafts and popular Okinawan products? Go to Port River Market on Nevada. Want a blast from America’s past? That can be found at Ring Ring Bell Closet, which features a huge assortment of vintage goods, from clothing to vinyl records.
It won’t take long for your stomach to rumble as scents from the restaurants and cafes overtake your senses. Finding delicious food in Minatogawa Stateside Town is easy. Deciding which eatery to indulge in is the tough part.
The aroma of fresh Italian food drifts out of La Vita, a cafe on the edge of Virginia Street. Freshly prepared seafood beckons from Limpid. And nestled at the end of Florida Street you’ll find oHacorte, whose fruit tarts are sure to seduce you away from any diet plans.
Whether you’re searching for an original Okinawan gift for a loved one, craving an afternoon of pampering or just want to discover something new, Minatogawa is treasure that’s worth seeking out.
From Kadena Air Base, head south on Route 58. Once in Urasoe, look for Kanehide Grocery Store on the right. On the left side of the street is SGI (Soka Gakkai Center). Turn left at that light. Follow the road up hill, and it will curve slightly to the left. This is the entrance to Minatogawa.
Most shops don’t open until noon, and many are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Free street parking is available in the neighborhood. Average cost of dinner is 1,000 to 2,000 yen (about $10-$20).
There are plenty of dining options, from seafood to Italian, in the neighborhood.