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Koza — heart of the Okinawan music scene

Located adjacent to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa City has long thrived as a base town. On the main streets, such as Gate 2 Street, shop and restaurant signs are written in English, prices are shown in U.S. dollars and payment in U.S. dollars is commonly accepted. Okinawa City is known for its very unique and international atmosphere in which the local and American communities coexist in harmony.

Okinawan rock is almost always mentioned when speaking of the history of Okinawa City, which is called Koza by the locals. Okinawan rock took shape in the late ’70s, when the Vietnam War entered its final phase and American B52s regularly took off from Kadena Air Base on bombing raids to Vietnam. Okinawa, on the main route for the U.S. into the war zone, quickly filled with American servicemen. Many flew missions to Vietnam; some did not return. Many U.S. servicemen sought fleeting solace from the war in hard rock. A number of bands were formed and played hard rock for the soldiers in the area. Among these were Murasaki, Condition Green, Cannabis and Marie with Medusa, which together came to symbolize Okinawan rock. Even today, a few live houses on Gate 2 Street and BC Street and their environs offer genuine Okinawan rock performances of the old days.

*Establishments in areas frequented by U.S. military personnel may have different operating hours to deal with the nighttime curfew imposed on U.S. military personnel. Some shops are opening their doors earlier than normal.

 

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7th Heaven Koza
Genre: Rock
Hours: Fri, Sat 19:00-2:00; Sun 18:00-2:00
Closed irregularly

 

7th Heaven is the only place where you can see Okinawa’s legendary rock band, Murasaki, perform on a regular basis, and it is also the home base for 8-Ball, the Okinawan rock group known for a variety of songs that are very popular among street racing gangs. With Ray, the son of Murasaki’s bandleader George Murasaki, as its owner, 7th Heaven hosts a wide range of live music shows by local musicians, famous bands and F.O.D., 7th Heaven’s house band. The place is well known for having a quality sound system, and customers can enjoy karaoke sessions in its professional setting on weekdays.

Murasaki reborn: George Murasaki (Hammond organ & keyboards)/Kiyomasa Higa (guitar)/GG (guitar)/Eiichi “Chibi” Miyanaga (drums)/JJ (vocals)/Chris (bass)

 

 

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JET
Genre: Hard rock from the ’60s-’80s
Hours: 20:30-1:00
Closed: Sun-Thu
Performances: 21:00/22:00/23:00/24:00

 

This is a perfect choice for those looking for a genuine rock experience. The place is run by Takashi Furukata, leader and bassist of the popular Okinawan rock group JET. It’s open on Fridays and Saturdays only, and four 40-minute live music shows take place each evening. There is no cover charge, but a one drink minimum is in effect.

 

 

 

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Fujiyama
Genre: Rock, metal, punk
Hours: 18:00-late
Closed: Mon, Tue, Thu, Sun
Admission: $5/500 yen on Fri and Sat
*Admission free on Wed

 

Anyone can walk right in and enjoy Okinawan and American bands at Fujiyama. The club offers an all-you-can-drink option with a wide selection of drinks without a time limit. Fujiyama’s drink menu features reasonably priced shots and large draft beers, while the food menu has a variety of dishes available, including Fujiyama’s popular chicken wings, pizza and other tidbits. The place boasts a relaxing and mellow atmosphere on Wednesday nights, and it turns into an extraordinarily vibrant nightclub with upbeat and loud live performances on Friday and Saturday. Fujiyama offers live music entertainment of various genres with a heavy focus on rock, punk and metal bands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nakanomachi Koza Gekijo, Otoraku
Hours: 20:00-
Closed: Tue
*Cover charge varies by event; free events are occasionally held.

 

Local folk band known as “ing” performs regular live shows on the fourth Sunday of the month. The bar offers great entertainment by a variety of artists such as noted bassist Willy and Chibi, a member of the Okinawan band Kachimba.

 

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Sideways
Hours: 11:00-24:00
Closed: Sun

 

 

This comfortable sports and music bar serves good drinks and delicious food such as the lunch combo of the day for ¥780. Live music, sports viewing and arm wrestling are worth checking out as well.

 

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Player’s Café

Hours: Lunch 12:00-16:00; bar 16:00-3:00
Closed: Wed

 

 

Here you can look out on Park Avenue Street while enjoying delicious food.

 

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Hideaway
Hours: 19:00-3:00
Closed: Tue, Wed

 

 

This is a country-themed bar offering live performances by Shota & Max and various other musicians.

 

 

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Kaya Hut
Genre: Reggae
Hours: 21:00-4:00
Closed irregularly

 

 

This 24-year-old reggae bar is known for its black light effects. Free admission events take place every second Saturday and third Wednesday. A wide range of Jamaican music, including ska, rock steady and dub, pulsates through the bar.

 

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Latin Soul
Genre: Latin
Hours: Tue-Thu 20:00-2:00; Fri-Sun 19:00-late
Closed: Mon

 

 

This popular Latin-style club and bar is always packed with locals and a Latin crowd dancing salsa and merengue in a friendly atmosphere. At Latin Soul, you can also enjoy traditional Peruvian dishes and salsa lessons. It’s open for lunch on weekends from 11:00 to 19:00.
The rock scene in Okinawa

 

 

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Pillow Talker
Genre: Soul music
Hours: 22:00-5:00
Closed: Sun
Cover charge: 300 yen

 

 

The only music bar in Okinawa City featuring contemporary R&B and soul with a touch of old school music.

 

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Oto-lab.
Hours: 14:00-22:00
*Subject to change based on events held at the shop.
Closed: Mon

 

 

Here you can enjoy a large selection of beers and tea from all over the world, surrounded by a wealth of used records and CDs displayed for sale all over the shop.

 

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Black Bird
Hours: 20:00-5:00
Closed: Sun

 

 

With its massive collection of over 1,000 jazz records, this cozy bar entertains both jazz beginners and connoisseurs in a laid-back setting.

 

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Yakitori Torigoro, Koza branch
Hours: 17:00-4:00
Open daily

 

 

Grilled skewers for 100 yen. Located inside the Ichibangai arcade, this casual dining bar is open until the early morning hours for lovers of fun and drinking.

 

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Story Cat
Genre: R&B, hip hop, reggae
Hours: 20:00-
Open daily

 

 

Open until late at night, this bar is run by a former employee of hip hop bar Cave. $20 will buy you all-you-can-drink for two hours.

 

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American Pizzaman
Hours: 11:00-1:00
Closed: Tue

 

 

This American-style pizza Izakaya offers large, homemade pizzas as well as sandwiches, jerk chicken and chicken nuggets.

 

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Nest
Genre: Club music
Hours: 22:00-
Closed: Sun

 

 

Nest plays a wide range of music such as hip hop, reggae, electro sounds and house with its powerful audio equipment.

 

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Smitty’s
Genre: Karaoke
Hours: 18:00-late
Open daily

 

 

This American pub situated next to Koza Music Town has a wide variety of pub fare such as gator tail, catfish, taco rice and yakitori.

 

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Side Door
Genre: Rock, country
Hours: Wed-Sat 18:00-24:00
Closed: Sun-Tue

 

 

American bar featuring darts and known for their hospitality. A customer favorite is a shot called the Jager Bomb, combining Red Bull with Jägermeister.

 

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Gate 2 Garage
Genre: Rock, blues
Hours: 20:00-5:00
Closed: Sun-Thu

 

American bar popular with customers of varying ages offers a variety of original shots. Live rock and blues are performed on weekends.

 

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Gecko
Genre: Mixed
Hours: 18:00-late
Open daily

 

 

Friendly staff serves you mainly at the counter. Customers have a great time playing electronic darts.

 

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Good Times
Genre: Karaoke
Hours: Mon-Thu 19:00-1:00; Fri-Sat 18:00-3:00; Sun 18:00-1:00
Open daily

 

This American-style karaoke bar provides not only free karaoke every Wednesday but also a great atmosphere where customers can chill.

 

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The Hookah Bar
Genre: R&B, hip hop
Hours: 19:00-1:00
Closed: Mon-Wed

 

Decorated in red, this exotic bar offers a relaxed atmosphere for sipping a drink in the comfort of a soft settee.

 

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Area³
Genre: Mix
Hours: 22:00-4:00
Open daily

 

This music bar open until the wee morning hours is located on BC Street. Underground music rarely heard elsewhere is played for background.

 

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Sakura
Genre: Mix
Hours: 18:00-5:00
Open daily

 

This American-style music bar is located inside the Ichibangai arcade. A darts machine is available, and it has a long bar.

 

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Manila Bay
Genre: Karaoke
Hours: 18:00-4:00
Closed: Mon, Tue

 

Offering hearty Filipino home cooking for eating in and takeout, this bar also has a karaoke machine set up for customers’ enjoyment.

 

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First Chance
Genre: Country, rock
Hours: Mon-Thu 17:00-late; Fri 17:00-6:00; Sat, Sun 14:00-late
Open daily

 

This is an American-style bar with an owner who loves Harleys. Here you can chill out while enjoying darts and pool. The bar is popular with people of all ages, and it’s open from early afternoon on weekends. Located on the second floor is a sister billiards bar which is open on weekends only.

 

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Bar SIX
Genre: Punk
Hours: 20:00-3:00
Closed: Thu

 

This is a punk bar run by a punk rocker. With a number of used records and vintage clothing on display, the bar has a very relaxed, home-like atmosphere.

 

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K-Oss
Genre: Mix
Hours: 21:00-late
Closed: Mon, Tue

 

 

 

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Johnny’s Entertainment
Genre: Hip hop
Hours: 18:00-late
Closed: Wed

 

 

This is a unique night spot that opened in December 2012. The place is equipped with a dance floor, and VIP seating and karaoke are available on the second floor, which is exclusively for female guests. A wide variety of izakaya food items are on offer, too.

 


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