Not too far from Route 58 in Urasoe stands a shadow of the US military’s presence in the area.Minatogawa Stateside Town used to be a housing area for US military members but after the land was returned to Okinawa, the houses were given a new lease of life. Each former house, lined along streets taking after names of American states, has been converted into a café or store and even a home or an office.Each tenant took creative liberties in turning the house to fit their business needs.
At the end of Florida Street is oHacorté, a little café with delicious tarts and other confectioneries. You enter the “living room” where you place your order then proceed to a room which has been converted into a dinning area or you can choose seats outdoors on the front lawn. Enjoying the tart and tea there almost made me forget I was in what used to be a house but spotting a (concealed) bathtub in the café’s restroom reminded me that it was a place of dwelling.
There are other eateries to choose from, each with its own specialties. Walk along Kansas Street and the crisp smell of pizza tempts you to step in and have a peek. Other than places for food, a tattoo parlor and a beauty shop stand along Michigan Street and Virginia Street respectively.
Over at Indiana Street, you will find a vintage store, Ring Ring Bell Closet. Vintage shopping is pretty popular in Okinawa and the store has quite a big selection for vintage hunters to trawl for treasures from eras gone by. Each room is full of retro goodies and they also have a room exclusively for men’s vintage clothes and shoes.
It is easy to walk around the 60 or so “houses” in Minatogawa Stateside Town and most eating establishments and stores there have limited parking space reserved for their customers.Sometimes when I see military housing along the roads in Okinawa, I often wonder how anyone can make a home out of those seemingly dull rectangular structures. Stepping into the former houses in Minatogawa Stateside Town gave me a slight idea of the houses’ interior.While Minatogawa may be known for the Minatogawa Man, the lesser-known Minatogawa Stateside Town is a little gem waiting to be uncovered by more tourists and residents alike.