Japan Atlas: Communities 

Location: Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture

A diverse, energetic road that developed from nothing

Okinawa Kokusai-dori is the main street in Naha City, in Okinawa Prefecture, that is composed of many islands in Japan's southern seas. It is known as a place where people can get a good sense of Okinawan customs, and many people visit Kokusai-dori not only to shop but also to sightsee.

Kokusai-dori was born immediately after the end of the World War II. At first it was just a marshy area with a single narrow road through the fields. Then people began setting up tents along this road and it grew and grew. It is also known by another name, the "Miracle Mile" and is a symbol of Okinawa's revival.

Kokusai-dori is full of tourists not only from within Japan and local young people but also from overseas, especially East Asia.

Notable are the many different restaurants and boutiques as well as variety shops. The street is lined with a variety of distinctive goods including wristwatches using seashells and various craft objects made of coral, befitting a South Sea island, various goods brought together here-irrespective of genre-from around the world, surplus goods from the U.S. military stationed in Okinawa, and military-style clothing from around the world. Together these items bring a feeling of vitality to the street.

Okinawa's prefectural office is also located here, and from the observation room on the top floor, visitors can view the scenery around the port of Naha and the Naha airport.

Several major events are held on this street, including a festival called Eisa, where 10,000 performers dance a traditional Okinawan dance, and a tug of war-that made it into the Guiness Book of world records-involving tens of thousands of people using a rope 186 meters (205 yards) long and approximately 1.5 meters (1.7 yards) in diameter.

Photos: Kokusai-dori (Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau)

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