I visited Naha for the first time. I didn’t know my way around the city at all, so on the first night I arrived at Naha, I headed to the famous Kokusai-dori (International Street). Kokusai-dori is the busiest street in Okinawa, and it is called the “Miracle Mile” because of its remarkable development after the war and its length of about one mile.
The nearest station of Kokusai-dori is Makishi Station of Yui Rail (Okinawa Urban Monorail). There is a big shiisa (legendary beast in Okinawa) statue in front of Makishi Station, which makes me feel being in Okinawa.
Various souvenir shops and restaurants are lined up along Kokusai-dori. There are many people, including tourists from foreign countries, walking and enjoying shopping on the street.
Naha is the biggest city in Okinawa and its population is around 310,000 and fewer than my hometown Takatsuki City (a suburban city) in Osaka; however, Naha gave me an impression of an urban city because of the concentration of people (including tourists) and tall buildings.
On the first night of Naha, I thought of having a dinner on Kokusai-dori, but although there are many restaurants and bars along the street, many of them were crowded and it was not easy for me myself to enter into one of them. Besides, I felt that the restaurants on Kokusai-dori are not for local people, but for tourists. I ended up not having a meal on Kokusai-dori while staying in Naha for about a week.
I stayed in a hotel in Matsuyama, Naha City, so when I came to the areas around Kokusai-dori I always walked through Prefectural Road 222. If you walk to the north on Prefectural Road 222 from the middle of Kokusai-dori, you will find a bar called “BAR Gold Dust” on the right side after walking the street for several minutes. This is a bar I found and entered on the first day of Naha after strolling along Kokusai-dori.
The lighting inside the bar is dim, and it has a chic and relaxing atmosphere. Like many other bars in Naha, BAR Gold Dust has a big space inside (there are several tables in addition to counter seats) to serve a large number of customers.
At this bar, I ordered common beers such as Guinness or Corona, my favorite cocktail Bannockburn (whisky and tomato juice), and salty dog, etc. They use fresh grapefruit for salty dog, and it was refreshing and tasty.
Cocktails using Awamori (distilled spirit) are also recommended in this bar. Awamori is a traditional drink (a kind of shochu) from Okinawa, so there are many bars serving cocktails using Awamori in Okinawa. I recommend you try Awamori if you visit Okinawa!
I visited this bar for several times while staying in Naha. As there are many izakayas (Japanese-style pubs) in the areas around this bar, it is a good place to visit for relaxing before and after enjoying Okinawan dishes at an izakaya.
I became acquainted with one of the bartenders, and he took me to bars visited by local people after midnight. I enjoyed drinking with him until morning, and ate Okinawa soba noodle for finishing off the day and headed back to my hotel. The night of Okinawa is long.
BAR Gold Dust location: 1-9-8 Makishi, Naha-shi