Party Until Dawn: Nightlife in NahaArea Guide
A night out in Naha, Okinawa’s capital, is a great way to see another side of the prefecture - there’s more to Okinawa than white sand and taco rice. The vibrant nightlife in Naha is home to a mix of local Okinawans, college kids on vacation, foreign tourists, and Bohemian transplants from the northern cities. There’s something for every speed; craft-beer taverns, dive bars, superclubs, and food-forward hangouts.
Just off the main bar street at Sakurazaka, Bar ECAQI is a great place to start your nocturnal revelry. Open every night of the week, from around 7pm to early in the morning, Bar ECAQI’s eclectic space occupies a handsome, crumbling building wrapped with ivy. Bar ECAQI is a great place to chill, but the real attraction is the seasonal menu of rustic Italian-inspired dishes.
Colors Cafe is a reliable lunch spot and it makes an alright spot for a drink earlier in the afternoon or early evening. Stuck on an alley, right in the center of things in Tsuboya, Colors has a steady clientele that shifts from mamatomo who lunch to Naha hipsters fueling up on tacos and draft beer before going to hear their friend’s ska band at a local live house.
Kokusai Dori Yataimura
Another pre-gaming option is the traditional bar streets around Naha: Ryugo Yokocho and Jizake Yokocho are the tried-and-true standbys and home to some of the best food and cheapest drinks in the city. Riffing on those classic lanes, Kokusai Dori Yataimura (sometimes rendered in English as Kokusai Street Food Village) was opened not far from Sakurazaka in 2015 to provide spaces for local shops. Yataimura is worth visiting during daylight hours, if only to visit the Ritou Marche market, but things start to pick up once the sun goes down.
Parker’s Mood Jazz Club
Parker’s Mood Jazz Club opens around 9pm and closes around midnight, making it the perfect place to either close out the night or launch further adventures. The vibe is dank authenticity: the drinks are strong, the room is dark and smokey, and the players on the club’s small stage are the best in town.
Craft Beer House Baku
Craft Beer House Baku is on the second floor of a nondescript building near the Kencho-mae Monorail Station. Although it can be tough to find, and the shop’s exterior is not particularly inviting, the owner and staff make it easy for even craft-beer neophytes to have a great time enjoying local and international craft brews. Ask the bartender for recommendations, but don’t miss a chance to try one of the Okinawan microbrews, and get a plate of suchika, an Okinawan salt pork.
The Smuggler's Irish Pub
The Smuggler's Irish Pub is a worthy representative of the class of Japanese Irish pubs that can be found across the country: a faithful enough simulacra of the Irish pub with a touch of idealism, attentive bartender, good beers on tap, and a menu with Irish stew and shepherd’s pie.
A little discotheque nestled in Matsuyama, Epica comes close enough to the superclubs of Tokyo or Osaka and has its own particular flavor. Open until dawn, the club starts filling up well after midnight with young men and women experiencing their first little taste of the night life, as well as seasoned clubbers sweating out all the problems and troubles of the world. Since it’s grand opening a few years ago, Epica has become the spot in Naha to hear international DJs and the best local talent. Epica slaps every night of the week, but it’s relatively lit on Friday nights in the summer.