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Depot Island debuts with 60+ shopping opportunities

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2010-08-19

Chatan Town’s Mihama area – which includes the popular American Village and its Ferris wheel towering over the town—is home to a brightly colored and themed new spot calling itself Depot Island.

There’s no way to miss Depot Island as its dozen buildings are in a half dozen vivid wall colors painted to look like a South American landscape. Within its confines are more than 60 stores, unique shops, restaurants and live houses, each sporting its own definitions of originality. Built over the past two years at a cost of $41 million, Depot Island’s 356,000 square feet of space has been designed to offer something for everyone.

Opened only a few weeks ago, owner Teruo Okuhara says there’s much more to come in his mini-town, which he describes as “exchange, sympathy, living in harmony in a town of profoundly sensitive culture.” His Okuhara Trading Company is far from finished with the project; still to come are a hotel and ‘fashion buildings’ on the site. For now, Depot Island is a cosmopolitan area where visitors can wander and find everything from Okinawan logo T-shirts and souvenirs to Japanese, American and Okinawan restaurants.

Designed to look and feel like visiting a small town, Depot Island’s buildings are anything but drab. From the pink clock tower that Okuhara hopes will become a landmark, to buildings that give a European feel, to several that seem to come from dreamland, to others along the seawall that are decorated with beautiful wall paintings, the complex is more than different. One brilliant yellow building was organized by Distortion President Juntaka Tokinen, who says “we want ladies to relax both mind and body, and become more beautiful here.”

Depot Island’s anchor tenants include Live Hojuse MODS’, Akara, the largest Habu Box on the island, artist Naka Bokunen’s Art Museum, Okinawa’s designers of Seasir Jeans and Japanese fashion U Denim & Life, X-Girl / X Large Store Okinawa featuring extra large styles for urban hip-hop skate styles, American Depot with imported aloha shirts, and Garage House accessory shop.

The new shopping, leisure activities and entertainment complex was designed by B.D. planning, a company headed by Mitsuaki Shigaki, while construction was accomplished by Dai-ichi Construction Company. The designers and Okuhara visited European countries and the United States repeatedly to get ideas on how to create an open mall-like urban area that would encourage visitors to return again and again. Part of their discoveries and decisions led them to avoid use of straight lines, adding some incline to the alley, and adopting bright colors.

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