We’re in your Asia, creepin’ on your kids.
Click on through for our Google Map. 1. Tailor: Hecka cute coffee/hang spot. 2. Tune Hotel: Clean and modern digs. 3. Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum: One-stop shop for history and art needs. 4. Booten: Solid noodle spot for udon and soba alike. 5. Ameiro Shokudo: Down a small alley off Kainan Seseragi Dori sits this tiny mom-and-pop resto with a compact menu and an adorable vibe. They’re open for lunch and dinner. English is limited, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the set menus. Your choice of entrée comes with DIY miso soup (customize the amount of paste you want to add to your broth!), some pickles, and, if you’re lucky, fresh tofu with a tiny pot of soy sauce. 6. Planula: We had an iced chai latte that was a total treat. You could have coffee, tea, food, or a cocktail. 7. Ceramics for blocks! 8. Market lyfe 9. Vita Smoothies: Smoothies, juices, and booths from the 70’s, in the best way. 10. Maxi Market: This photo tells …
Scene-setter: Porte Magazine, the Kinfolk of Okinawa, but with a lot more POC’s, thankfully. Pound-the-table recommendation: This restaurant, whatever its name may be. (Update! The English translation is Ameiro Shokudo. Read more about the super cute owners here.) Back Pocket Fact: In 1884, Okinawan Yasutaro Tamagusuku (“Edison of Itoman”) invented mi-kagan, or swimming goggles, borne out of a desperate need from underwater net fishermen with deteriorating eyesight.
Inside the aforementioned shopping arcades is Daiichi Makishi Market, which is sort of like Chelsea Market in New York or the Ferry Building in San Francisco except with more dried squid and pigs’ heads and fewer people with $5,000 strollers. Exactly none, in fact. Upstairs is a food hall with a dozen or so fast-casual restaurants vying for customers. We opted for the most crowded one, which we can only describe as That Restaurant With The Mural of the Fishermen Cutting Up A Giant Sea Slug. The beauty of this establishment is that you can purchase your fresh—maybe to the point of still moving—fish downstairs, and they’ll prep it to your liking. So this… …or this… …can become sashimi in a matter of minutes. Not being so confident in our fish-haggling skills—at least not in the native tongue—we opted to order from the menu.
Just south of Kokusai Dori, the Starbucks-riddled main drag of Naha, run a series of covered shopping arcades where storefronts hawk everything from ironic t-shirts to “Okinawan baumkuchen” to whatever this stuff is: There’s lots to eat and lots to buy, but also GAMES. We love games. We love *winning* games. There’s the table tennis cafe: And the arcade, filled with gamer boys. Some things are the same the world over. Check out this button masher: And the pachinko parlor, filled with slightly older gamer boys and so loud that we wore earplugs in order to play a round. The machine we fed 1000 yen into bore little resemblance to the Plinko-type game MacKenzie remembers playing as a kid. Our modern pachinko machine came equipped with flashing lights and a video screen that linked our performance to some sort of anime narrative involving cleavage.
Okinawa is famed for its pottery and ceramics, and we are famed for going batshit crazy over a minimalist, handcrafted coffee mug. Our visit to Naha’s Tsuboya Pottery District—a single, adorable, gently winding street dotted with shops, cafes, and a small museum—was a trying exercise in personal restraint seeing as we’ll be living out of our carry-on suitcases for the next few months. (Why are they so heavy? What cruel magic has transformed whisper thin tank tops and, like, one cardigan into a suitcase full of sandbags?) Because there were these: And these: Our favorite shop of the bunch was this place… …which featured plates, teacups, bowls, chopstick rests, and those lion dragon things in the traditional colors of red, blue, green, and brown. WE BOUGHT NOT A SINGLE THING. We are basically heroes. No idea if they ship, but here’s their info should you wish to, say, outfit your entire Brooklyn restaurant with Okinawan ceramics.