Okinawa – a Shoppers’ Paradise

Okinawa – a Shoppers’ Paradise

Posted on Oct 4, 2013 in Must see, Things to do, Weekend trips, What to buy |

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In Okinawa, markets called “Machigwa” are filled with fresh and processed foods (including meat, fish and vegetables), clothing, and many other goods. These markets have a real Okinawan atmosphere. Okinawa also has the only tax-free mega store and outlet shopping complex in Japan. With its luxury brands and bargains, this paradise is sure to satisfy all shoppers.

fish marketFeel the power of Okinawa at its markets

Walking along inside the market (Machigwa), you will hear the cheerful voices of women exclaiming, “This is really tasty!” or “Get one of these as a souvenir!” These women, known as “Ammah”, stand in front of their small shops to call customers over to their stalls. Their bright smiles and cheerful voices combine to give power to the market.
The biggest and busiest Machigwa is “Makishi Public Market” in Naha. At first, you may be surprised by the sight of vividly colored tropical fish, and you may question whether they are edible, but in fact they are really tasty! Okinawan people say, “All parts of a pig can be eaten – except for their cries.” All types of pork are on sale here, from the head to the tail. If you buy foods on the first floor, you can ask for them to be cooked and served to you on the second floor, which is a great way of trying out the local dishes.

potsStreets full of Okinawa flavors

Every street in Okinawa has different kinds of shops. Many people walk along the main street of Naha, “Kokusai Street”, which is always busy and seems constantly to be in festival mode. The street extends for about 1.6km with many souvenir shops, traditional Ryukyu confectioners, Awamori shops and food stores, and the friendly shop assistants here will be happy to let you sample some delicious foods and drinks. There is an overwhelming variety of colorful, tropical goods on sale here, and you can find all kinds of Okinawan souvenirs.
There are more streets leading off Kokusai Street, and these also boast a variety of shops. “Tsuboya Yachimun Street” specializes in pottery (Yachimun means pottery in Okinawan dialect), with new pottery shops displaying the works of young potters in among the old potteries. Both traditional and modern works can be seen here. Other points of interest include shops specializing in “Shiisa”, which are ornaments of Okinawa’s protective god. You will definitely enjoy shopping and walking along the old town streets of Okinawa.

shoppingTax-free shop with world-famous luxury brands

DFS Galleria Okinawa” in Naha city center, Omoromachi, is Japan’s only duty-free mega store. The facility houses the only street-level shops in Japan where you can purchase foreign brand goods duty-free. The place attracts many tourists who stop by on a daily basis for shopping at prices with up to 30% savings after fully enjoying site-seeing around Okinawa. Upon making a purchase you will receive a receipt. You are required to present this receipt at the DFS pickup counter after baggage check at Naha Airport to receive the purchased goods. The DFS Galleria is connected to Omoromachi Station, 19 minutes from Naha Airport by monorail. The spacious food court in the store serves a variety of foods, including Okinawa dishes and cuisines from all over the world. In addition, there are big shopping centers and supermarkets in the surrounding Omoromachi area, so why not go shopping in the local area after enjoying some luxury brand shopping?

Okinawa outlet mallInternational shopping area

The town of Chatan is located in the middle of the main island of Okinawa. The town has many foreign residents and you will be able to hear different languages being spoken. “Mihama American Village” consists of a large-scale shopping mall, supermarkets, cinema complex and more. The weekend night market held in the nearby Hamby area attracts families and tourists with shops opened by locals and foreign residents alike. There is even room to bargain if something takes your fancy, so give it a try!
If you prefer shopping for reasonably-priced things, visit OKINAWA OUTLET MALL ASHIBINAA, a shopping area in Tomigusuku City. Here, quality goods and samples of famous brands newly introduced to Japan are sold at discounted outlet-level prices. Free shuttle bus services from Naha Airport make it easy to reach AHIBINAA.



health and beauty productsSpecialty beauty and health products
Okinawa’s specialty beauty and health products made locally from natural materials have been receiving a lot of attention. Many women now recognize “Ryukyu cosmetics” (Ryukyu is the name of the traditional Okinawa kingdom), which include facial masks and hair treatment goods made of “Kucha”, an ocean mud containing rich sea minerals. Locally produced skin lotions made with sugar cane, Shikuwasa (Citrus depressa) or Getto (galingale) are also popular as they are natural and gentle on the skin. “Washita Shop” sells Okinawan products and has a special section that contains a large selection of Ryukyu cosmetics.
Okinawa now has more than 30 salt producers, as it is surrounded by beautiful sea. Okinawan salt is a basic seasoning, rich in sea minerals and indispensable for healthy life. “Ma-suya”, on Kokusai Street, is a specialist shop offering some of the most unusual types of salt in Japan. They have 600 different kinds of salt products – not only Okinawan salt products, but also a large selection of salts of different origin, blended salts, and soaps and bath salts for beauty. Some shop assistants are able to serve in English and Chinese.