Okinawa izakaya devoted to Hiroshima Carps baseball team is a home run
Tucked away in a sleepy residential neighborhood in Okinawa City is Akai Helmet, a spacious and trendy traditional Japanese izakaya opened in honor of the Hiroshima Carp, one of the most popular teams in Nippon Professional Baseball. The restaurant’s name, which translates to “Red Helmet,” is a direct reference to the team’s colors and the headgear sported by players during their appearances at bat.
Although located more than 600 miles from the Carp’s hometown, Akai Helmet’s baseball theme isn’t entirely out of left field. The team has held spring training on Okinawa since 1982, and as a result has a large local following on the island. According to Akai Helmet’s staff, the izakaya is even a regular hangout for Carp players during the winter months.
Once inside, diners are led past player autographs covering nearly every bit of restaurant — walls, balls, pictures and signs. A red samurai suit of armor stands watch over the cash register, the iconic Carp “C” adorning its helmet.
The restaurant’s menu is entirely Japanese, which might be difficult for some English-speaking patrons — so be prepared to come armed with a smartphone app or a friend to help to translate.
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