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Ryukyu Rika-chan doll simply charming

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-06-11

With its cute face, slender body, and pretty clothes, the Rika-chan ningyo, or doll, has been the dream girl for many Japanese girls for a long time. Similar to the popularity Barbie Dolls have in the United States, the evergreen Rika-chan is still considered a beauty icon, even for some women in Japan. After 32 years, Rika-chan Doll still receives a lot of attention from her fans every time she comes out in public with a new appearance. And the latest version is no exception.

A limited edition of “Ryukyu Rika-chan Dolls” were released on May 26. As its name “Ryukyu,” which means “Okinawa,” implies, this Rika-chan has a distinctive Okinawa flavor and is dressed in a stunning Okinawan kimono of raspberry pink with a unique pattern of blue ocean waves and red and yellow flowers. Rika-chan and an Okinawan kimono! How did this come about, you may wonder. Well, Kentaro Ishihara, the originator of the Ryukyu Rika-chan and also owner of a toy shop called “Banana Flavors,” has the answer.

“It was last summer when the idea came to mind,” said Ishihara. “I was walking along Kokusai Street and looking at those so-called ‘Okinawan Dolls’ at the souvenir shops. To me, they looked all the same. Then I thought how would it look if I put Okinawan clothes on the Rika-chan doll. So, I went home and tried. Those two fit perfectly!”

The Ryukyu Rika-chan Dolls are available at three locations: Ishihara's toy shop on the first floor of Naha OPA Shopping Building, and two souvenir shops located on the JAL side and ANA side of the new Naha Airport. The price of the doll is ¥4,800 and payments are accepted in yen only.

If you're toy collector, a visit to Ishihara's toy shop is well worth the visit. There's a large quantity of cartoon heroes and popular movie characters on display. Business hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The shop will be closed on Wednesday June 2 and Wednesday June 16.

Ishihara wants to buy American toys. Any American toy but, in particular, Snoopy, the characters from Toy Story, Sesame Street, McDonald's and Burger King Toys are in demand. If you have toys to sell, e-mail Ishihara at banana@southernx.or.jp.in easy English, please. Walk-in negotiations are also welcomed.

Directions: To get to Naha OPA Shopping Building, take Route 58 from Kadena to Naha. At the Tomari intersection, turn left and enter Route 29 and go straight until you reach Kokusai Street. After entering Kokusai Street, go straight until you reach the Kokusai Shopping Center on your left. Then, look for "Banana Flavors" toy shop to your left.

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