With its spectacular beaches and tropical townscapes, Okinawa is one of the most popular resort areas in Japan which attracts many visitors from all over the world, during all seasons, and rich in natural beauty, officially designated as a World Natural Heritage site in 2021. In recent years, Okinawa has also been developing as a cultural destination, making its mark on the arts and music scenes. Okinawa-based festivals “CORONA SUNSETS FESTIVAL” and the “NAMINOUE FESTIVAL” have become fan favorites, and the location has also produced several unique artists, including Okinawa-born rapper Awich — a musician who is immensely popular with younger generations.
The charms of Okinawa foster a uniquely modern Okinawa culture, elevated by the local incredible outdoor experiences. However, it’s not just the usual resort experiences and tourist stores available to visitors. Many undiscovered attractions have not been widely shared with the rest of the world — these gems have been coined “Unlisted Okinawa.” Hypebeast has carefully selected five “unlisted” spots for both first-time visitors and those who love Okinawa and have traveled there many times before. Up-and-coming Tokyo-based photographer Ryunosuke Kanaya captured each of these locations — dive into the list below.
LIQUID THE STORE: A Cultural Hub Centered Around the Ritual of Eating and Drinking
“LIQUID THE STORE” has a location in Tsuboya, Naha City, which is easily accessible from Naha Airport. As the name “LIQUID” implies, the store offers a variety of items derived from drinking, and customers can eat and drink directly inside the store. The store includes a “GALLERY” which handles tools for drinking, a “CELLAR” that specializes in natural wines, a “PANTRY” that offers tea leaves, coffee, and sake, “STAND,” which is an eating and drinking area, “TESIO 2×” which specializes in homemade ham and sausage, and “LIL by TIMELESS,” a corner store of TIMELESS CHOCOLATE, the first “Bean to Bar” style chocolate specialty store in Okinawa. The shop sells drinking utensils and beverages and also hosts events where visitors can actually experience these items. According to Junji Murakami, the representative who directs these events, “It has become a place where both locals and curious tourists gather, and communication naturally occurs as people drink and eat locally crafted products.” Recently, together with Mizuho Distillery, Murakami has been ambitiously working on a project called “ONERUM,” which aims to create an unprecedented rum by utilizing two ingredients: sugarcane from Okinawa, which boasts a 400-year history of sugar production, and brown sugar produced on eight remote islands. Stop into LIQUID THE STORE upon arrival in Okinawa for a welcome drink to start your trip off on the right foot.
LIQUID THE STORE
Address: 1F, 1-1-21 Tsuboya, Naha City, Okinawa 902-0065, Japan
Tel: +81 (0)98-988-3607
Chocolate Jesus: Promoting Okinawa Street Culture
“Chocolate Jesus” is a select store situated within the AMERICAN VILLAGE in Chatan, a town in the central mainland of Okinawa that’s like a theme park in itself. Chocolate Jesus is a concept store that has been supported by creators and artists active in the scene and has been involved with various local, national, and international brands, including collaborations with the American fast food chain A&W and Japanese fashion brand BoTT (Birth Of The Teenager). The store also has a café space, “Chocolate Jesus Coffee,” where customers can stop by for a break from exploring. The location even has a skateboard store called “Quack Skateboards” which offers items in a playful space that resembles a skate park. “There are many sightseeing spots and stores in Naha City, but if you want to experience Okinawa street culture, you should go a little further and visit Chatan,” said a staff member of Chocolate Jesus — who also recommended eating at the restaurants along the nearby Alaha Beach.
Address: 1F, 34-1 Mihama, Chatan-cho, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa 904-0115, Japan
China Audio Showroom: Okinawa’s Only Audio Manufacturer Offering Innovative Sound
If you visit Chatan, you should also make your way to Koza in the Chubu area. Koza is home to the showroom of TINA AUDIO, a company that is frequented by audiophiles and those immersed in the fashion world. TINA AUDIO was established in 1975 as Okinawa’s only audio manufacturer, specializing in repairing audio equipment for U.S. military bases. After repairing and selling various manufacturers, the company began manufacturing its own original products. In the process, the company has succeeded in developing speakers and amplifiers that focus on projecting crystal-clear sound — to the point where there is now a waiting list of more than a year for reservations. TINA AUDIO’s speakers, characterized by their minimalist cylindrical design, provide 360-degree three-dimensional sound and have been embraced by both individual users as well as corporations. Founder Hiroshi China conceptualized this speaker design after years of research. “The design of these speakers was not created because they look good, but because we pursued the best shape for speakers, and it just happened to look like this,” explains Amiko China, the company’s PR manager. Visits to the showroom are scheduled by appointment only, so check out the brand’s official website to plan your trip ahead of time.
China Audio Showroom
Address: 3-16-6 Chuo, Okinawa City, Okinawa 904-0004, Japan
Tel: +81 (0)98-938-3994
Marinx Harbor: A Resort Complex Where You Can Play the Okinawa Way
If you spend a leisurely day driving around Okinawa, you will find that the time passes quickly and the night comes and goes in a flash. The Marinx Harbor, located in a small port town in the southern part of Okinawa, is a highly recommended place to relax after a long day of travel. With a total of eight guest rooms, a separate pool villa, a marine store, a café, a BBQ terrace, a hair salon, and even a grind pool, it is a playground filled with local Okinawa favorites. “The facility is run for people who want to enjoy the local Okinawa atmosphere, water sports, entertainment, and activities to the fullest. Our staff members work while engaging in activities like surfing, so it also functions as a place for cultural exchange. You’re sure to find new ways to enjoy Okinawa that you cannot experience anywhere else,” said Hi-Ro, the manager of Marinx Harbor, who enjoys surfing, skateboarding, and also cuts hair at the salon. “We hope that you will spend an original Okinawa vacation at Marinx Harbor,” he continues.
Address : 361-2 Aza Minatogawa Shimominatohara, Yaese-cho, Shimajiri-gun, Okinawa 901-0511, Japan
Tel : +81 (0)98-988-3007
Iriomote Island Tour NGAF: Forget the Hustle and Bustle of the City on This Great Nature Remote Island Tour
“NGAF” offers tours on Iriomote Island, a remote island in Okinawa. On Iriomote Island, 90% of the land is covered by subtropical jungle and it is known as the home of the Iriomote wild cat, a very rare special natural treasure. Here, you can experience activities in the great outdoors that you cannot find in the city, such as SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) and trekking. Beginners as well as experienced water athletes alike can enjoy these activities alongside instructors. “Just have fun. That is my motto as a guide. We prepare activities that can be enjoyed by men and women of all ages, and we also teach the charms of Okinawa that we know only because we live on Iriomote Island,” says the chief tour guide, GO Sato, aka GO, who used to work within Tokyo’s fashion industry and has a deep knowledge of the cultural scene. For those who want to forget the hustle and bustle of the city and experience something out of the ordinary, Iriomote Island is definitely for you.
Iriomote Island Tour NGAF
Address : 508-90, Haimi, Taketomi Town, Yaeyama-gun, Okinawa, 907-1434, Japan
Tel : +81 (0)90-1876-6641 / +81 (0)98-085-5502 (9:00-22:00)