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Gushikawa Shopping Center – Here I Come!

By: Elizabeth Garrett

Date Posted: 2000-12-01

According to my friend, it’s an American tradition to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year, and if everyone didn’t do their part, the malls would be barren. Well, this year Thanksgiving fell on Thursday, November 23. Thanks to the grand opening of the Aeon Gushikawa Shopping Center on November 24, I was able to uphold American tradition here in Okinawa. I saw the full-page advertisement in the Japan Update and I knew it was meant to be for me to be there. Since I didn’t arrive at Aeon Gushikawa Shopping Center until 10:30 a.m., I missed the Island drums with Keiko Higa, the Shi-Shi-mai dance, and all the other extravaganza.

However, when I did arrive at 10:30 a.m. I was amazed that the parking lot was almost completely full. I was wondering why the traffic on Highway 81 and Highway 85 was rather congested. Friday is a normal workday for people so I never thought that so many people would show up at the Shopping Center. It seemed like every woman in Okinawa was there for the grand opening. Aeon advertised parking spaces for 1,800 cars and I think I drove in car 1,795. We parked on the roof at Jusco and we followed the crowds into the store.

Once inside Jusco, it was love at first sight for me. Jusco is my favorite store and to see one two times as big as the one Chatan Town was wonderful. The many signs written in English made it easy to find the different departments within Jusco. Only the dollar exchange machine was a little bit tricky to find. However, I asked a person at the information desk and he quickly walked me over to the exchange machine in the corner behind the gift wrap section on the bottom floor. To the right of the dollar exchange machine there was a photo lab called Snaps. Furthermore, Snaps is located near Mister Donut.

Though Aeon Gushikawa has been named a shopping center, it seemed more like a shopping mall to me. Not only did the outside of Aeon Gushikawa Shopping Center looked like an American mall but even the inside did too. Walking on the bottom floor outside Jusco and seeing the familiar wooden kiosks with vendors selling items such as Beanie Babies almost brought tears to my eyes.

We walked past the retail shops to the end of the Shopping Center to Nitori, a home fashion store. Nitori had many reasonably priced home décor and linen items. Maybe to draw more American customers, Nitori even advertises that credit cards are accepted. This of course makes it more shopper friendly for Americans who do not carry around much cash whether dollars or yen. I still find it difficult to carry around more than twenty dollars and/or two thousand yen in my wallet. Of course the only thing I can do with such a big wad money is go on a mad shopping spree at a 100 yen shop.

Upstairs there is a food court with a variety of different restaurants. Stores such as UNI-QLO, Michael Klein, and a Sanrio Hello Kitty store were located on the second floor. Even though it was crowded at Aeon, the people seemed to be in a good mood. All the Okinawans and Americans seemed to be unified with one goal in mind which was to go shopping. While standing in line in Jusco, a lady behind me actually started conversing with me. She kept looking at my Taniguchi teapot and saying , “kawaii” which means cute. I think she was impressed that I was buying such a stylish teapot. (By the way, I have discovered that tea does taste better in “kawaii” teapots). Well, the friendly shopper and I had a good time talking with each other while standing in line. I have a feeling that the Aeon Gushikawa Shopping Center will definitely be one of my favorite places to shop in Okinawa.

By the way, even with the congested traffic it only took twenty minutes to get to the Aeon Gushikawa Shopping Center from the Legion Club gate. Take Highway 81 to Highway 85 towards Gushikawa. While driving through Awase, there are plenty of Jusco signs with arrows pointing towards the Shopping Center.

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