At 2 o'clock on a spring afternoon, Chuo Park Avenue in the city of Okinawa belongs to the cats. They preen outside its bankrupt nightclubs, spit and hiss over scraps of garbage, and sleep atop piles of moldy utility bills in the doorways of the shuttered stores.

The ginger toms and tabbies have this 1 km stretch of street to themselves. There's no people. There's little reason for them to be here. Three-quarters of Park Avenue's shops are closed and the rest are struggling to survive.

Standing like an oasis in this desert of "For Lease" signs is Indo-ya (The India Store). From 50 meters away, you can hear its staccato tabla music. From 20 meters, you can smell its incense, as sweet and spicy as cinnamon rolls.