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American Village in Chatan a fantastic success story

Date Posted: 2005-09-09

Chatan citizens like Americans.

They like American customs and culture, and they very much appreciate the tens of thousands who flock to their town every week. Chatanís Mihama District is home to American Village, a megapolis of stores, markets and shops that tout all things American.

American Village attracted 8,300,000 patrons last year, some 160,000 visitors a week flocking to the 83 shops and stores, as well as to the 14 larger company operations within its boundaries. American Village, only 16 kilometers north of Naha City, is filled with movie theaters, a flea market, a nature park, a game center, and Jusco. Thereís even a baseball stadium. Itís parking lot is among the largest on the island.

Itís the American atmosphere that attracts not only Americans, but thousands of locals to the shopping area. Mihamaís business association says itís beginning to look like an overseas resort area, with nothing in Okinawan style. The ocean makes up the west boundary of American Village, while Highway 58 is on the east. Within American Village there are dozens of restaurants serving everything from sushi to Thai food, and a little of everything else too. And since last year, the tallest building on Okinawaís there too, a 24-story hotel.

American Village employees 3,000 locals in an area that 15 years ago was nothing. A businessman says thatís when they just began turning the reclaimed land into a manmade business area, replete with dozens of new buildings.

Not surprisingly, Chatan residents donít understand all the hullaballou about Americans getting out of Okinawa. They canít believe the protests, saying the rank and file population of the island love Americans, the American culture, American music, American dreams, and the American style of living.

As the core of the newly developing resort town, theyíre quick to underscore the need for Americans, because Okinawaís future depends on new, attractive development targeted to foreigners.

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