Saturday, March 03, 2007

Shopping at Ryu Bo & Strolling Kokusai Street by Night

Shopping at Ryu Bo & Strolling Kokusai Street by Night

We awake to grey skies and light rain so it’s a good day to stay inside and carve waxes. Art takes off to an internet café for some time alone and to work on his web site. It’s Saturday and John lounges and watches Japanese T.V. I design a Mermaid and Wave ring around a piece of iridescent green Arizona Fire Agate. The premise to one of the television programs is a competition to see who can build the sturdiest stool without using any nails or glue? A dozen different competitors saw, wedge and pound together identical stools of wood. (This isn’t a 14 year old boy’s idea of exciting television and his running commentary is far better than the show and keeps me amused as I work.) After the stools are completed 4 VERY large men come upon stage, each taking a stool and climbing onto a “shaking platform” where they sit on the stools while the platform undulates back and forth. Most of the stools collapse and these “Sumo” men thud down upon the platform amidst the pieces of wood from the broken stools. This process of testing the stools is repeated several times over until only one stool remains unbroken. There is an enthusiastic round of applause and a winner is declared.

By 4:30 P.M. my shoulders and back ache and I quit work. I want to go to Ryu Bo Department Store but it’s still drizzling so we catch a taxi. Taxis are very reasonable. The starting meter rate is 4.50 Yen for the first 1.8 kilometers and about 170 yen for each additional kilometer. Tipping is not expected. We are dropped off at Ryu Bo and walk through the glass doors into a fashionable retail bubble. On the ground floor is the cosmetic and costume jewelry section and I inhale the aromas of expensive perfumes and beauty products guaranteed to make anyone look younger and more beautiful. We glide up the escalators up to the 8th floor. Ryu Bo is the largest department store in Naha and I just want to browse. I have always been much more impressed by the retail displays in Japan and Okinawa than even in the finest shops back in the United States. Japanese packaging is an art in itself. Art wanders off to the book section but John stays with me. We peruse the baby clothes section with Molly in mind, but the price tags deter me. I buy several cards in the stationary sections and John plays an arcade game or two.

We reconnect with Art and walk outside and down Kokusai Street. Its dusk and the stores on this tourist street will be open late. The street is bustling with pedestrians enjoying the bright lights and the warm evening. In spite of the rain earlier, the temperature is in the mid 70’s and we stroll without sweaters or jackets. As in any tourist district, the restaurants on the main drag are overpriced and over hyped but half a block down a side street I spot a small establishment and peek through the lighted door. It looks charming and I would love to eat here, but it is not our habit to go into the first restaurant that we come to. We usually wander aimlessly for at least an hour until we are all so hungry and grumpy that anything will do. I paused three seconds too long in the doorway and the owner comes outside to invite us into his restaurant. There is a long bar overlooking the kitchen area where cast iron pans are sizzling over gas flames. There are only 4 Japanese style tables and three western style tables set along the other side. A wall is lined with bottles of awamori and the walls are papered with calligraphied celebrity autographs We are seated at a Japanese style table and the “Mamasan” is pleasant and helpful in taking our order. The food is simple Okinawan style, Okinawan soba, champuru, fish and pork. Art orders 5 plates for us to share and a small flask of awamori for the two of us. The décor is charming, the service fast, the food good and the prices reasonable. We wait less than 10 minutes for our table, but by the time we leave there is a crowd waiting outside for tables. I pick up a card as we leave and Art translates the name of this restaurant to beYunangi. The phone number is 098-867-3765.

We stroll leisurely down Kokusai street enjoying the warm night, the bright lights and being together.

1 comment:

Corvus said...

Hi! I'm a new-ish craft blogger and long time lurker. I got the idea that I wanted to do a blog post featuring the work of some of my favorite other crafters and artisans (maybe even make a weekly habit of it) and, well, I love your work.

It's nothing to get excited about as I'm pretty sure my regular readers could be counted on one hand (maybe two on a good day), but if you wouldn't mind I'd like to use one or two of your pictures (which will, of course, link back to your store and blog- both are too full of gorgeous to resist). I don't mean to bother you, but I don't want to take your pictures without permission either- it'd be rude.

Thank you,