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Okinawa interest now In growth spurt

Date Posted: 2004-05-14

Interest in Okinawa is increasing, and tourism and economic agency officials are smiling.

Prefectural officials are saying everyone is suddenly wanting to come to Okinawa, calling it ‘the wedding resort island Okinawa’, ‘Healing Resort Okinawa’ or “longevity life Okinawa’.

Since Japan’s NHK Television network produced an Okianwan drama “churasan” three years ago, Okinawa’s name has been on the tips of tongues. Initially, the popularity was attributing all to Okinawa’s long lifespans coming from healthy foods.

The Industrial Bureau says sales soared more than 27.4% from 1999, the year before the television program. Sales totaled ¥8,200,000,000 in 2003.

Okinawa industrial products have expanded nationwide, with “Okinawa Fair” exhibitions opening in large city department stores in mainland Japan. In those promotions, sales jumped 54.7% to ¥2,980,000,000. Also on the mainland, the large supermarket chain Ito-Yokado last year had Okinawa exhibitions three times, up from twice a year in the past.

There are currently nine Okinawa industrial goods shops across Japan, and all report sales up. The largest sales were in Tokyo, where figures reached ¥2,700,000,000.

Director Naruichi Miyagi says ‘we are going to open Okinawan shops in Osaka, Hyogo, Kyushu areas and then take the program to other markets.” He sees the Okinawa boom as still building strongly, and predicts it will continue a long run.

Kyushu District Agriculture Center reports that Okinawa fruits and vegetables contain a lot of ingredients which provide positive health improvements, including reductions in blood pressure and high sugar levels.

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