American Village, Mihama, Chatan
Shopping/Entertainment | Avg price: ¥0 | English Available: None (Unknown)
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Shopping, dining, entertainment complex on Okinawa Island
American Village on Okinawa Island (Okinawa Honto) is a large, outdoor entertainment complex sandwiched between the sea and the busy Route 58 heading north from Naha. To say that American Village is popular is an understatement. Particularly for locals, in an area largely dominated by American army bases, American Village serves as base of operations itself, for shopping, dining, and entertainment. During the daytime you’ll see plenty of young things in the area. There are also many tourists here, perhaps indulging in a bit of holiday shopping. Maybe some of them are staying in the impressive bulk of the Vessel Hotel Campana Okinawa, the Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort, or The Beach Tower Okinawa, all hotels that might be considered part of the American Village complex. The complex itself is an outdoor one. A large and colorful slab of Americana housing plenty of fashion shopping, themed-dining and other entertainment. This is a Disneyland of a shopping experience in so far as none of it looks real. It’s all cute little plazas, fake facades, manicured palm trees, archways, winding stairs, and inviting signs. To be honest, it’s quite good fun but I can’t be sure how long the American Village novelty lasts. In terms of shopping, the latest edition to American Village is “Depot Island”. In fact, Depot Island really makes up the bulk of the “village”. The stores here mostly have a “youth” feel - Hurley, Skateboard Shop Sunabe, RNA. Food comes in the form of tacos, burgers, steak and pizza. Some daily-life essentials are catered for - drugstore, hair salon, homeware, convenience store. For those who really want to concentrate on the less glamorous essentials Aeon Chatan is just across the road from Depot Island. In terms of “entertainment”, options at American Village include the 7PLEX movie theater, SKYMAX 60 (the ferris wheel), and a game corner (very much for the little ones). There are a strings of nice bars, including Okinawa Brewing Company, on the southern flank of Depot Island, fronting a bit of canal / river across the way from Aeon. Sunset Beach should also be considered a part of the American Village complex. The name isn’t used arbitrarily, apparently (I wasn’t around to witness) the sunsets from here are more than worth a look. Sunset Walk Chatan is a nice place for a stroll if the “village” becomes too much of a headache. Travelers should keep a look out for the small but useful Chatan Information Center, on one corner of the crossroads on the southern flank of the ferris wheel. I visited American Village during the day and later in the evening. During the day, I found it a bit much. It reminded me of hanging out and trying desperately to look cool as a teenager despite the complex being in Okinawa. For residents of the Chatan, and maybe even Naha, it must be a useful resource, especially as a place to come for a meal out or to take in a movie. For people traveling in Okinawa or here on a vacation, I can’t really see much point, unless you come from somewhere that doesn’t have large shopping centers. I suppose if you’re staying in one of the hotels that are part of the complex, well, then it would be hard to avoid. Where I enjoyed American Village the most was during the evening, once most of the stores have closed. The number of people thins out. The garish colors are subdued and the place is lit up nicely. There are some nice bars around here to have a couple of drinks which in the balmy weather can feel extra special. If I have one gripe, it’s that the place (and the bars) shut too early, around 23:00, but then I was here on a school night. Hours: Hours vary but generally 10:00 - 21:00 (some bars until 23:00 or midnight on the weekends) The “village” is easy to spot as you approach the Mihama area of Chatan - a large ferris wheel sticks out like a sore thumb. Access by car is easy and the parking here are large and free. That said, during the day, you might have to have a keen eye to find an empty spot. In the evenings however, things calm down significantly.