Bar Prince boasts 47 years of Gate 2 Street history
Bar Prince on Gate 2 Street in Okinawa City is an icon of the area that has served customers since 1968, and has seen plenty of ups and downs through its 47 continuous years in business.
It’s current owner, Noriko Kugai, has been in Bar Prince for 22 years, and been its owner and mama-san for the last 10 of them. The bar is always crowded with customers, most of them regulars who come time and again to relax and enjoy a chat with other regulars and waitresses serving the drinks. Most customers became fans of the place after being invited to the bar by other regulars, both military and civilians, and became hooked on its homely and friendly atmosphere.
Over the years, the place has developed an almost a cult-like following. It’s a place where patrons can pop in for a few minutes or stay the whole night enjoying a chat over a few drinks or, especially, singing karaoke! Prince’s karaoke is stuffed with a huge selection of English language favorites from old evergreens to newest popular tunes.
Over the years, the Bar Prince’s business has not always been easy, and the bar has had its share of hardships. The latest jolt was the sharp drop in the number of customers because of the curfew and drinking restrictions for the U.S. military that was in place until recently. But, as Noriko-mama says, “Hardships are there for us to overcome, and our regular customers really have helped us. They always expressed their concern about us, and that encouraged us very much and helped us persevere. So, I cannot express my appreciation enough.”
After the restrictions and curfew were eased, customers are back, and owner Noriko wants to do her best to be sure everyone is having a good time. “That’s how I want to repay what little I can for their kindness,” she says, adding, “This hard time taught me the importance of connecting with people and taking care of friendships.”
Prince is a located on Gate 2 Street, on the second floor at 1-4-2, Uechi, Okinawa City, about 300 meters from KAB Gate 2. Their phone number is (098) 932-4806. The bar is open from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends. Bar Prince is closed on Mondays. Both Japanese yen and dollars are accepted, but not credit cards.