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Okinawa popularity boom jumps to mainland Japan

Date Posted: 2004-07-01

Okinawa’s culture is spreading north to mainland Japan.

A new Okinawa-town is now in development, and will open in February 2005 in Tokyo.

Local officials compare the new town to Chinatown in New York. It will be a shopping mall at Suginami-ku area. Izumimeitengai Mall chairman Michio Ojiro says “Our shopping mall opened in 1961, and is located near Kueou train line.

“The 380 meters long street offers many services, and makes people feel good,” he says, and notes that “young and old use the stores. In fact, even television drama producers come here as a filming location too.”

Ojiri says the current mall is getting old though, and the customer base is decreasing. “We need to make changes for the new generation,” he adds. “It’s about time now, and somehow this area looks like the old, ancient times of Okinawa.” That, he says, is why he thought of making an Okinawa town in Tokyo.

He first began planning a year ago, then went to the town office for help. “We are going to make Okinawan restaurants and souvenir shops”, he adds, and “we’ll display the shishi dragon pottery, the Gate, Shuri Castle’s Shurei-no-Mon at the entrance.”

Ojiri thinks everyone loves Okinawan foods, as well as its lifestyle. He says the taste will attract customers, and he believes shoppers will visit his Okinawa town “for sure.”

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