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After watching too many editions of Jay Leno's Garage on YouTube in the last few days, culminating in one about a '70s Japanese car, I started to wonder ...

Is there any car museum or collection of cars that is open to the public in Okinawa?

I'm interested in seeing old Japanese cars and expect due to Okinawa's unique history that there should also be old American cars that have been brought over in the past half century.

But anything will do, including museums that have just a section with cars.

I tried Googling in English and Japanese and asking the owner of my hostel. But there could be something little known or in the north of the island or related to one of the US bases.

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The Okinawa Classic Car Association (沖縄クラシックカー協会) has a small showroom atop a garage specializing in, you guessed it, classic cars. All visitors welcome.

ガレージルマン  (Garage Le Mans)
沖縄県宜野湾市大謝名2-3-3 

In Ginowan on the main island, not far from the US Army base, so I imagine they've had the odd long-nose visiting in the past. Open Mon-Sat 8:30-18:30, map here.

The one problem for you is that they appear to specialize in the one thing that's neither Japanese nor American, namely European cars.

  • How on earth did you find this? It's perfect because I'm heading to Ginowan tomorrow anyway after getting a tip that a secondhand bookshop there specializes in books on Okinawan/Ryukyuan languages! – hippietrail Mar 10 '14 at 13:46
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    Googled "classic car okinawa" in Japanese, and this was the second hit! – jpatokal Mar 10 '14 at 21:37
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    I popped in for a look this afternoon about 5pm. You just say hello in the office and they invite you to go up the stairs and have a look. There was an '80s looking Jaguar, a '70s MG and an '80s MG, an Austin-Healey‎, and what I think was a replica Morgan. They had some interesting posters on the walls of classic Japanese and American cars. Downstairs there was a car under a cover which was an early '70s Nissan Fairlady (Datsun 240Z). It would probably be most interesting when the guys are there but not busy and if you're into those particular cars so you can chat with them. – hippietrail Mar 14 '14 at 12:56
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This website is a mini search engine of all Automobile Museum in Japan, by prefecture. It doesn't say how many total museums there are in Japan, but it appears they have quite a lot listed. However, there are "no results for Okinawa-ken" so I'm going to go ahead and say unfortunately the answer to this question is "No"

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    On a personal note, the Toyota Automobile Museum just outside of Nagoya is probably one of the best in the country for seeing historic cars and the development of automobile technology in Japan over the 20th century – Manmaru Mar 10 '14 at 3:32
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Most of the American Cars have been scrapped since Reversion to Japan 1975, since left hand driving cars were a little bit harder to drive on the left-hand side of the road and shipping of American Cars were nearly prohibited. Nothing could be shipped newer than a 1973 American car in 1988.

There are some American cars still owned by the local nationals, from the 1980's and 1970's, to include Buick and Lincoln Continental's. Two were near my wife's village in Ginoza, which has a small museum, but no cars as of 1988. Near Our Sanshin Sensei's residence in Okinawa City, we both saw an excellent looking 1970 Datsun Bluebird in 2006, and I also saw an immaculate Nisan Cedric near Gate 3, KAB in mid 1980's. Both of these cars were well taken care of by their owners, the Bluebird was actually having maintenance completed on it, when we were searching for our Sensei's residence.

Okinawa's love automobiles so I am sure there is interest among them to start a museum, or at least place a few cars in existing museums. Cars did not become important to the people until the early 1970's. They simply could not afford them because of the luxury taxes they paid on the cars and the price of petrol.

My brother-in-law had a motorcycle up until 1971; yet he had a very decent job - family needs come first. Americans and Okinawa's need to have car rally's and meets together in order to encourage the restoring of antiques and classics. It took a while for American to get started - a Lincoln Car just opened two years ago in Michigan to encourage the restoration of the Lincoln and Lincoln Zephyr motor cars.

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