One of the first areas to be rebuilt after World War II, Kokusai Street was hailed as the "Miracle Mile" for its great shops, restaurants and bars. Many hotels can be found along this 1.6-kilometer stretch as well, and you'll find tourists and locals alike looking for the latest trends and fashions in the boutiques. Some notable souvenirs include bottles of star-shaped sand, or snakes steeped in jars of awamori (Okinawan sake). The summer festival also takes place on this road.
As the Ryuku nation's palace, Shurijo Castle was the economic, religious and administrative epicenter of the chain of islands now known as Okinawa. Once bound to pay tribute to China and Japan while also doing trade with Southeast Asia, the influences of all these cultures can be seen in the architecture, decor, and most of all the blazingly red walls of the castle. Since being built in the 1400s, Shurijo has served as a royal residence, a Japanese military base, and as a school. It is the only Okinawan castle to be completely restored to its 18th Century state after being bombed during World War II, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site easily accessed by monorail or bus. Traditional Ryukyuan dances are performed in the main courtyard three times daily. See the website for more details.
Take a peek at life as it would have been in Okinawa's celebrated past. The erstwhile kingdom of Ryukyu has intrigued many and this facility gives a fantastic chance to see what it was like. Formed in order to protect Okinawa's ethnic cultural heritage, Ryukyu Mura is a living village that exemplifies the history and traditions of ancient Okinawa. Visitors to the village have a lot on their hands from exploring the sterling structures and watching artisans at work, to partaking in the various festivals and events celebrated here.
Just north of Naha City in Urasoe, the National Theatre Okinawa was completed in 2004 to provide a space for the preservation of Okinawa's traditional performing arts. Kumiodori, an Okinawan play influenced heavily by Japanese noh and kabuki theater, takes center stage here. During the performance, audience members will see a beautiful example of a traditional bingata (textile dyed in Okinawan fashion) curtain serving as the backdrop to a dazzling display of costumes. The kumiodori plays contain dance, orchestrated music and singing, and depict the legends of the Ryukyu Islands.
Cultural Kingdom, the Gyokusendo Caves and Habu Park comprise Okinawa World, where people can learn about traditional Ryukyuan arts and crafts in the reconstructed Ryukyu village, watch snakes slither in Habu Park, and then take a five-kilometer (3-mile) walk under the massive stalactites in Gyokusendo Caves, the largest cave in Okinawa. Visitors can choose to only enter specific exhibits for a lower ticket price. The park closes half an hour earlier from November to March.
With the American Village's Ferris wheel in the background, Live House MOD's is an unassuming venue dedicated to musicians and their fans. Whether it's an amateur or professional on the stage, the acoustic sets will appeal to any music lover. The venue also hosts comedians and occasionally has free admission nights, so be sure to check the website for schedules and prices.
The Brook seems like a well-guarded secret and only those in the know are aware of this place. Well equipped with a quality sound and light system, it hosts international DJs and talented musicians on a regular basis. Enjoy the fine tunes with a pint of beer or any choice drink.
The stage dominates the venue here, with two floors of seating all focused on the performers. The venue hosts comedians, professional and amateur rock groups as well as wedding receptions. All-you-can-eat or drink menus are also available, making this the perfect spot to hang out with a group of friends. Opening hours vary according the schedule, so check the website for details.