Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mesmerized


Mesmerized
Originally uploaded by graffkeith
Sorry for not posting for so long, work and a prolonged rainy season have prevented me from getting out and about with my camera. Unfortunately its been the former which has been much more pervasive in interfering with my hobby/work of writing about Okinawa, Japan.

Here’s an old photo which I had published on the front page of the “Stripes Okinawa” a few years back that I really liked. This is a young lad mesmerized by a street performer during the regular Sunday street festival on Kokusai “International” street in Naha, Okinawa’s capitol.

One of the things I like about Kokusai Street is the connection to the past it still holds. The main Ichiba or “market” for the city is located here. The area is now covered to allow shoppers to escape the brutal Okinawan summer sun. But many of the old shops still retain the old charm of a time not so long ago.

Some stores, especially the further away from the main entrance you go are not much larger than a coat rack with homemade wares hung for display. The whole market is alive with the sights, sounds and smells of a fond memory and well worth a visit.

A few years back when the large and modern “Shin Naha” New Naha district opened its doors with modern shopping malls, the old market was threatened with extinction. Many stores either closed their doors for good or moved to the newer and potentially richer hunting grounds of the modern shopping district.

The local merchants aware of the threat petitioned the city fathers and made way for the weekly closing of Kokusai Street and the establishment of a street festival. Now, with a few exceptions, the street is closed at noon on Sunday’s and local bands, street performers and small merchants by the hundreds take to the streets, literally, to show their stuff. The move has been a boon for local businessmen and women and for the moment has saved the old business district and its charm for at least a little while longer.

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