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A Multicultural Area in Okinawa. “THEATER DONUT,” a Small Café / Theater in a Culturally Diverse Area
post : 2018.02.27 19:00
There are few areas where everybody can feel the unique atmosphere of Okinawa unlike Mainland Japan. Sakaemachi Market area remains good-old Asiatic atmosphere, and American lifestyle and culture are reflected to the residential areas from Urasoe to Ginowan. One of the fun things about going on a trip is to encounter extraordinary moments. If you were expecting that, then I want to recommend you to go to “Koza” the most. The name of city existed until 1974, and currently a part of Okinawa City.
U.S. military personnel stationed in this area during the ground battle of Okinawa and later Indian, Filipino, and Chinese people moved to this area and it developed as the most international area in Okinawa. And in 2015, a unique small theater has opened in this area.
The small theater is called “THEATER DONUT,” and this is the first café / theater in Okinawa. As its name indicates, there is a space for café inside the theater. There is a café to enjoy coffee and tea and get relaxed, and another space for audiences to enjoy another world throughout the screen. This might be the place where people can see the wider world through a multicultural area.
The theater is sited by Route 330, and a bus stop is located in front of it. After walking through people near the bus stop, open a wooden door and go upstairs, you will find a cozy café.
Coffee, tea, juice, and homemade donuts are on the menu. Also, donuts are made by the owner’s wife. Even though these donuts are fried, they are not oily much and crunchy. Recommended donuts are sunny lemon and double chocolate crunch. Whiskey and beer are also on the menu for those audiences who want to watch movies and drink alcohol at the same time.
Unlike typical movie theaters, classic sofas and chairs are placed inside the theater instead of fixed seating chairs. Actually, the owner gets the reputation from audiences sometimes that “we feel like being at home and watching movies.” A speaker of JBL is used for the theater, so audiences can hear the full-scale sound through the speaker.
The theater is big enough for about 50 people to sit down if they sit closely, but the seats are available only for about 20 people. This must be the sensitivity for them to feel comfortable and watch movies. The owner of this unique small theater is named Shinichi Miyajima who is born and raised in Koza.
Miyajima works as a radio jockey and a TV host, and a movie “E.T.” gave him a big impact when he was in a 4th grade.
“I was overwhelmed by the movie, but it was a surprising for me that strangers got laughed, angry, and cried at the same space. They must know the movie wasn't real, but how could they be touched by the movie that was filmed in a country beyond the sea, not in Okinawa or Japan. I realized how great the power of movie was then.”
Since then, he became a movie fan, and years later, he opened a theater in a unique area.
“I said I like movie, but I realized that I like theater more than movie after I opened it. I feel especially happy to see audiences’ faces when they finish watching movies and come out of the theater. Movie isn’t over just watching it, and audiences can take ‘souvenir’ to their home from the theater. It could be emotion, encounter, discovery, or awareness. Also, such feeling can be reflected to our lives. For example, movies can trigger us to reassess our lives and social involvement.”
Miyajima himself selects movies to run for his theater. Movies that he runs are fictions to travel a fantasy world, or non-fiction movies that show unknown reality. Both have in common that they give many points of views to the audiences.
“Every movie is for communication. Person to person, person to nature, or person and space. I believe that movies have a power to build a circular world.” His word started to get heated. “A circular world is the world to accept others or it is more like the world filled with generosity.” Koza where Miyajima grew up is called as the town of military bases. Fences divided this town into 2, and each side has different flow of time. While looking at both worlds and growing up, he faced the reality and justice.
“A tag line for THEATER DUNUT is ‘Let’s watch 1 movie every month!’ Not only movie fans, but also this is a place for those audiences who are attracted to the theme of movies. Residents of Okinawa come here once in a month and it turns out as their routine. Many people who doesn’t watch movies come to this theater and connect with society through movies. Or sometimes they might able to meet people here. By communicating with others, the world will be the one. That’s my ideal.”
Watch a movie in the middle of your trip in the place with different temperature, humidity, and the world unlike Mainland Japan. After the movie, you can look at people on the street through the window, talk to the other audiences, or remember what you thought or felt during your trip, etc. By thinking of your ordinary life through this extraordinary experience, it makes your trip worthwhile. You might able to have a unique experience by stopping at this theater.
*Movies that filmed in Okinawa or set in Okinawa run at THEATER DONUT irregularly. Also, a talk with guest speakers will be held after the movies. Check their official website or facebook for more details.
THEATER DONUT okinawa
Address: 1-3-17-2F Chuo, Okinawa City (in front of Goya Bus Stop)
Business Hours: 10:30-21:00
Okinawa CLIP photo writer Nobuya Fukuda