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Ashibinaa Okinawa Outlet Mall is dream shopping spot

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2002-12-21

Few of us have gotten over the size and selection offered at Shintoshin's new mega-mall Naha Main Place when yet another great shopping place called Ashibinaa opened on Sunday, December 14. The new outlet mall has a great number of brand name stores stocked full of all types of items. Okinawa is a great place for shopping, and with so many new department stores and now this new outlet mall, your shopping options are limitless. Christmas is quickly approaching! If you have yet to finish your Christmas shopping, this is the place to go!

The new mall opened in the undeveloped Toyosaki area of Tomoshiro city. The area was once completely underwater, but landscapers have been hard at work claiming this land from the ocean and changing it into what will someday be a flourishing area consisting of housing, the new mall, and more. In fact, the area is so new that many of the streets near the new Ashibinaa mall are still without stoplights causing quite a jam from all the new traffic heading to and from the shopping center. However, once you defeat the heavy traffic and find a nearby parking spot, you'll be satisfied with the great supply of brand name goods available.

The Ashibinaa outlet mall currently has over seventy shops and restaurants for shoppers to wander through including brand name stores such as Gucci, Reebok, Levi's, G-Shock, OshKosh B'Gosh, United Colors of Benetton, Diesel, Urban Style, and Adidas just to scratch the surface. It also has Seven small restaurants and cafes as well as a large food court large enough for hundreds of people to catch a bite to eat at the same time. From bagel sandwiches to Itallian gellatto, from Takoyaki to Taco Rice, there's something for every taste.

The biggest shock for me was how low the prices were in some of the most well-known name brand shops. On an island where name brand items rarely come cheap, Ashibinaa's prices were a welcome surprise. Also, some of the shops sell slightly defective items with hardly noticeable defects for very, very low prices. Other stores are currently holding grand opening sales with goods at as much as 20% off the regular price. The prices are very impressive! I certainly went home happy!

The name Ashibinaa is a traditional Okinawan word for a place where young and old, men and women, would gather and spend hours before the deities of Okinawa. Inside the mall is the Ashibinaa-hiroba, a large stage where music groups and cultural entertainers occasionally perform giving visitors a chance to see and hear the sights and sounds of the Ryukyus. This area is guarded by Shisa lion statues, a beast often placed on rooftops and gates to ward off evil spirits.

The official Ashibinaa website says that the new outlet mall is not just a shopping mall but a playing garden. Indeed it is! Unlike other Okinawan shopping malls and department stores where you are forced to do your shopping indoors, at Ashibinaa, the path between the shops is all outside. Though the weather has been a bit nasty lately, there will be no better place to shop on Okinawa during the island's cool, sunny days.

A great amount of free parking is available, and you can even park right outside the storefronts during weekdays. If the mall parking lots are completely full, there are also a few large dirt areas that are currently being used as free parking. The drive to Ashibinaa is quite a long one from most places on Okinawa, but the trek is well worth the effort. Getting to Ashibinaa is pretty easy. Drive south on highway 58 and head towards the Naha City Airport. Highway 58 ends and becomes 331 close to the airport. Continue straight, passing the airport, and go straight until you reach a large intersection. Signs will show that you have to turn right to continue on route 331. Turn right here and continue straight until you see a San-A department store on your right. Turn right at the Ahagon intersection and then take the next right. By now you should see the Ashibinaa Outlet Mall up ahead and signs with further directions. Park wherever you can and enjoy the new shopping experience that is Ashibinaa! For more information, check out the Ashibinaa website at www.ashibinaa.com. The new outlet mall is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for shopping and the restaurants close at 11 p.m.

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