The mood Naha in March, Okinawa, Japan - Scott Livengood

The mood : Naha in March, Okinawa, Japan

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Okinawa prefecture is an archipelago and Naha is its biggest city, located on its eponymous biggest island. Contrary to what you might picture when you think about Okinawa (aka beaches and desert islands), Naha is actually a proper big Japanese city. This realization must be turning some people off, because it tends to be seen as a layover place at best. I see the logic in not wanting to linger in big cities in most so-called “beach destinations”, where they are often synonymous with crowds and pollution. You won’t find that here, instead you’ll find a worth-seeing iteration of a Japanese city transported in a semi-tropical climate. Without surprise, thousands of kilometers away from the constraints of Tokyo and the mainland, it’s a much more free-spirited version of Japanese culture you’ll get to witness.

I didn’t doubt for an instant that I was in Japan and welcomed this slightly unkempt version of what I already knew. A mischievous and disheveled nature was happily slipping through every crack, enchanting a pastel cityscape which looked both frail and rugged in the face of the tropical storms that often come around. A contagious laid-back feeling kept a smile on our faces as we wandered the stone paved streets adorned with broken pieces of ceramics and marveled at the smooth allure and untamed hair of the locals. Behind that carefree feeling sometimes arise the reality, past and present, of the American presence of the island. Uneasy to grasp for the simple visitors we were, it still gave an important insight on how Japanese culture endured and enriched itself through what was, and still is, a difficult situation.

1. Rent a house or an apartment near the Tsuboya Pottery museum
2. Browse the ceramics stores on Tsuboya Yachimun Street and find more at Miyagiya
3. Take a bus to the Ryuku Onsen Senagajima Onsen and try to measure your luck as you bathe in hot water with the turquoise ocean at your feet
4. Climb up to the Kinjo stone road and be lucky enough to spy on the senior gym and singing class
5. Play the tourist at the Shuri castle, if only to enjoy their dragon faucets in the restrooms
6. Try your luck at the Okinawa prefectural museum, the art is a bit hit and miss, but the building is worth it
7. Marvel at the pizza and the hip game of the pizzaïolo at Bacar
8. Enjoy vegan food in a beautiful space at Mana and Ukushima
9. Have a curry at Satogami
10. Have a coffee at Soi
11. Browse cool vintage with cool music at The Good Batch
12. See the island chill take on fashion at Kerouac
13. Explore the back alleys of the Makishi market, behind the fancy fabric stores, to find the lady selling piles of vintage kimonos for next-to-nothing
14. Take a taxi to StateSide town, a mini village of indie shops built in ancient American barracks
15. Eat purple sweet potato ice cream at Blue Seal

About Scott Livengood

Scott Livengood is the owner and CEO of Dewey’s Bakery, Inc., a commercial wholesale bakery with a respected national brand of ultra premium cookies and crackers.

Previously, Scott worked at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for 27 years, starting as a trainee in 1977. He was appointed President of the company in 1992, then CEO and Chairman of the Board.

Scott has served on numerous boards including the Carter Center, the Calloway School of Business and the Babcock School of Management, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

He started a new business, StoryWork International, in 2016 with Richard Stone. The signature achievement to date is LivingStories, a story-based program for improved patient experiences and outcomes in partnership with Novant Health.