Post Reply ~ beautiful island of OKINAWA ~
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Posted 2/26/10 , edited 6/21/13

Okinawa is the southmost prefecture of Japan. Okinawa consists of nearly 150 islands, which are scattered in a wide area (over 350 miles long). The population is about 1.27 million in the whole prefecture. The climate is subtropical with an average temperature of 70 degrees F year around (barely falling below 15 degrees in winter). During June to October, many typhoons pass over Okinawa. The largest island is Okinawa island, where the capital city, Naha is located. It takes two and half hours from Tokyo, two hours from Osaka, and one hour from Kagoshima to fly to Okinawa Naha Airport.

The seas surrounding Okinawa's islands are considered among the world's most beautiful with coral reefs and abundant marine wildlife. Consequently, snorkeling and scuba diving are among Okinawa's top attractions. The water is warm and the fish are very plentiful.


Okinawa Monorail


* Okinawa Shuri Castle (Shuri-jo) It's a symbol of Okinawa. You can take a picture, wearing the traditional Okinawa costume here.

The area around Shuri Castle is called Shuri-jo Park. It's located on a hill, so the view from this park is spectacular. This architecture of this castle is very different from typical castles in Japan. The color is an orange-red and the building is a mixture of Japanese and Chinese architectural styles. There are many historical buildings, and also there is a museum in this park. The gate called Shurei-no-mon is well-known and became the symbol of Okinawa.

Admission: 800 Yen (castle), 200 Yen (mausoleum)
Open: Daily 9:00-18:00 (castle, mausoleum); castle opens 8:30-18:30 from July to September and 9:00-17:30 from December to February; castle closes twice a year for 3 days due to maintenance.

* Shikinaen Garden
Features beautiful, relatively simple, wooden palace buildings with Okinawan style, red tile roofs and a spacious Japanese style landscape garden.

The pleasant garden can be viewed from a circular path, which leads through the woods, along the ponds, over the bridges and past a pretty hexagonal building on a small islet. While designed in a style seen elsewhere in Japan, the garden is given a distinct Okinawan flavor by its buildings and subtropical flora.

Admission: 400 Yen
Open: Thursday to Tuesday 9:00-17:30; until 17:00 from October to March.

* Tsuboya Yachimun Pottery Street
There are two main pottery villages in Okinawa and a few smaller ones. Tsuboya Yachimun Pottery Street in Naha is where pottery first began in Okinawa. Located at the end of Heiwadori Street

In Yomitan (Central Okinawa), potters work and live in a small village where visitors can enjoy the many traditional-style clay-roof buildings.

* Kokusaidori
Kokusaidori is Naha's main street, stretching for roughly two kilometers through downtown Naha.

Starting at the Naha Bus Terminal, Kokusaidori is lined by restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, souvenir shops, boutiques and department stores. Many shops remain open until 11pm, and live Okinawan music is played at various restaurants.

The night life on Kokusai Dōri is always busy with clubs, bars, and cheap eateries open until the wee hours of the morning...

If you are looking for even more shopping opportunities, you are encouraged to venture into the colorful Heiwadori, Mutsumidori and Ichiba Hondori arcades, which branch off Kokusaidori around the intersection with Okieidori.

* Naminoue Shrine

* Peace Memorial Park ~ Himeyuri Monument
Towards the end of World War Two, Okinawa Island became site of one of the war's bloodiest battles, when the US forces invaded and occupied the island. An estimated 200,000 people, including more than 100,000 civilians and 12,500 Americans were killed in the battle, which lasted from April to June 1945. Numerous sites and memorials related to the "Battle of Okinawa" are concentrated mainly in the south of the island, where the worst fighting took place.

The spacious Peace Memorial Park is located near the southern tip of the island. Its main attraction is the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, which gives a sobering overview of the road to the battle, the battle itself and the reconstruction of Okinawa.

Other monuments in the park include the "Cornerstone of Peace", a collection of large stone plates with the names of all fallen soldiers and civilians, including Koreans, Taiwanese, Americans and Britons.

Admission (Museum): 300 Yen
Open (Museum): Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 to 17:00, closed on Mondays (except if Monday is a public holiday) and from December 29 to January 3.

A few kilometers west of the Peace Park stands the Himeyuri Monument (Himeyuri no To) with an adjacent museum. It commemorates the fate of 219 high school students and teachers who worked in army field hospitals in caves under horrendous conditions helping Japanese soldiers as war nurses during the Okinawa War. They were called Himeyuri (which means red lily) Corps. They killed themselves after being surrounded by the US soldiers.
Admission (Museum): 300 Yen
Open (Museum): Daily 9:00 to 17:00

Okinawa World Okinawa World, also known as the Culture Kingdom Gyokusendo, is a touristy theme park about Okinawan culture. The park's main attractions are the Gyokusendo Cave, a crafts village and a snake museum.

Gyokusendo is one of the greatest caves in Japan. It is about 3 miles long, and more than 200,000 stalactites are beautifully formed. You can tour the best part of this long cave.

The so called Kingdom Village (Okoku-mura area), are restored houses from over 100 years ago with workshops introducing the various traditional Okinawan crafts, such as weaving, dyeing, paper making, pottery, sugar cone processing, the making of music instruments, brewing and the more recently introduced glass blowing. Visitors can gain hand-on experiences at many workshops and have ample of opportunities to purchase the local products at numerous souvenir shops. Of course, there is also a restaurant specialized in Okinawan cuisine.

The Habu Park, named after the infamous, poisonous, local Habu snake, consists of a snake museum, a small, run down zoological garden and a snake show. You can observe and learn about many diffent types of snakes.

It's interesting to see traditional Okinawa dance shows held there.
Kingdom Village only: 600 Yen
Cave and Kingdom Village: 1,200 Yen
Habu Park: 600 Yen
Free Pass (for everything): 1,600 Yen

Daily, 9:00 to 18:30 (to 18:00 from November to March)
Entrance gates close one hour prior to closing time.


* Nakagusuku Castle
Only ruins remain of the Nakagusuku Castle today, but these are well preserved, and the castle's division into multiple citadels can still clearly be recognized.

There are also nice views of the surrounding area and Nakagusuku Bay from the castle.

It is recommended to combine a visit to Nakagusuku Castle with a visit to nearby Nakamurake, a beautiful, traditional Okinawan style residence from the 18th century.
Admission: 300 Yen
Open: Daily, 8:30 to 17:00 (until 18:00 from June to September)

* Nakamurake Residence
The Nakamurake is a traditional Okinawan style house, dating from the 18th century, when it served as the residence of the Nakamura family. Nakamurake has been designated a major cultural asset by the Japanese government and is open to the public.

Nakamurake displays many typical characteristics of a wealthy Okinawan farmer's residence, such as a red tiled roof with statues of shisa, lion like creatures that ward off evil spririts and are omnipresent in Okinawa, and a stone wall and high trees for protection against the frequent typhoons.

It is recommended to combine a visit to Nakamurake with a visit to the nearby Nakagusuku Castle Ruins.
Admission: 300 Yen
Open: Daily, 9:00 to 17:30

* American Village
Ferris wheel, hip clothing stores, restaurants and entertainment.

* Sunabe Seawall
This is a nice place for a stroll along the water amid the giant concrete "jacks" in place to protect the houses from storms and rough seas. This is a popular scuba diving area, as well as a good spot for jogging and other land-based activities!

Agena Park Bullfighting Agena, Gushikawa City
Those of you who are not quite up to the challenge of running with the bulls in Pamplona may want to be a spectator at an Okinawan bullfight. These contests are quite different from Western-style bullfights: Two bulls face each other in a ring in a classic battle of brute strength and endurance; the bull to give in first loses, and no animals are killed. Bullfights are held in this park almost every weekend.

Bullfights at Ishikawa Dome

video clip:

* BIOS on the hill 961-30 Kadekaru, Ishikawa City

This park has the greatest number of orchids in all Japan. Horticulturists nurture the young orchids in the park's greenhouses and then transplant them around the grounds. Other plants and trees, including pines, pineapples, ferns and a wide variety of flowers, are also grown here. Throughout BIOS one can find trees shaped into dragons and scrolls. Also, of the 57 species of butterflies on Okinawa, 51 have been spotted on BIOS grounds.

Admission: Adults: 690 Yen Children: 350 Yen
Open: Daily. 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Murasaki Mura 1020-1 Aza Takashiro, Yomitan Village

Murasaki Mura is a replica of an old Okinawan village. The village has two restaurants, Tai Ki and Jana Tei, serving both Okinawan and Japanese cuisine in tatami rooms. You can also experience the production of various items including brown sugar from sugarcane, shisa and other pottery, your own sanshin and custom candles with sea shells, Ryukyu glass and bingata (a surface-dyed textile). There is a separate fee for each activity, ranging from 500 Yen for bingata to 2,000 Yen for shisa faces and other large pottery pieces. Open: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

* Yomitan Pottery Village ~ Zakimi Castle Ruins ~ Zanpa Lighthouse Yomitan

yomitan pottery village

zakimi castle ruins

zanpa lighthouse

* Southeast Botanical Gardens 2146 Aza Chibana, Okinawa City

Due to Okinawa's subtropical climate, this is the only botanical garden in Japan where tropical and subtropical plants flourish under cultivation outside of their natural habitat. There are two main gardens: botanical and aquatic. The park invites you to bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy amongst the fragrant blossoms. Some tropical flowers in both gardens are in full bloom all year long.

Admission: Adults: 1,000 Yen Children: 500 Yen
Open: Daily 9:00 am - 5:30 pm


Ryukyu Mura
Visit a community of Okinawan houses which have different activities such as playing the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument), take a photo dressed up in the traditional Okinawan dress.

Ryukyu Mura is an authentic re-creation of an ancient Okinawan village. Old Ryukyuan homes were brought from all over the islands and reassembled here in the village to preserve the heritage of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The park was created in the hope that this unique heritage could be shared by all who visit. Some of the staff wear traditional Okinawan folk costumes, providing the perfect photo opportunity. Inside the village you'll find examples of Okinawan crafts on display and for sale, including bingata, pottery and sugarcane products. These are all made using traditional methods, handed down from generation to generation. Music and dancing are also showcased throughout the day. The Sugar House still makes brown sugar the old-fashioned way with the help of a few powerful water buffalo to turn the sugarcane press.

At several places throughout the park you have the chance to participate in the local crafts. You can buy a ticket to paint Shisa dogs, try your hand at bingata or pottery, learn the dances or to play various instruments.

Ryukyu Mura is located north of Kadena in Onna Village.
Admission: Adults: 840 Yen Children: 420 Yen
Open: Daily 8:30 am - 6:00 pm.

Nago Pineapple Park
The Nago Pineapple Park, a small, enjoyable theme park about pineapples.

The admission ticket to the park includes a ride on an automatic vehicle through pineapple fields and a tropical garden, and all-you-can-sample pineapple products in the adjacent souvenir shop. Among the various products are pineapple wines, juices, cakes, chocolates, as well as dried and fresh pineapple. You can also observe how pineapples are pealed, cut and canned.
Admission: 500 Yen
Open: Daily 9:00 to 18:00

* Pizza in the Sky

Pizza in the Sky also called "Pizza Kajinho" or "Cafe Kajinho" in Japanese 歌人補. Best pizza in Okinawa but very hard to find. Off the main road from Nago to the aquarium. Worth the wait and the drive at least once. Excellent views. Like all pizza in Okinawa, it comes with "corn" on it, but don't let that get to you. Only one kind and one size pizza available. Salads are also delicious and huge! Closed TUE and WED. Limited parking. Tel. 098-047-5537. Open 12-7pm

Beach Rock Village

Official Beach Rock Village Page (google translation). Japan Update's article

Forest Adventure Park

Official Forest Adventure Park Page

* Okinawa Ocean Expo Park
It's a national commemorative park built after the Okinawa Ocean Expo held in 1975. There are Tropical Dream Center, Tropical and Subtropical Arboretum, Native Okinawa Villages, Emerald Beach, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, and more.

One of the most popular attraction in Okinawa, The Churaimi Aquarium is the largest in Japan and the second largest in the world. In here you will see different species of fish, manatees, sea turtles and other marine life. They also have a daily dolphin show .

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Okinawa the Churaumi Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world and holds some of the most spectacular species of marine life. The Churaumi Aquarium massive tank boasts a record for the largest acrylic glass panel, measuring 8.2 meters by 22.5 meters with a thickness of 60 centimeters.

Housed within the massive tank known as the “Kuroshio (the Japan Current) zone” are some of the only whale sharks to be kept alive in captivity in the world and the very popular giant manta rays along with hundreds of exotic tropical fish.

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium: 1800 Yen
Tropical Dream Center: 670 Yen
Oceanic Culture Museum: 170 Yen
Park and other attractions: Free of charge

Ocean Expo Park is open daily from 8:00 to 19:30 (8:00 to 18:00 from October to February). Closed on the first Wednesday in December and the following day. Individual attractions typically open half an hour later and close half an hour earlier than the park.

Nakijin Castle Only ruins remain of the Nakijin Castle today.

Admission: 150 Yen
Open: Daily 9:00 to 17:00

Hiji Waterfall ~ Hedo Misaki (Cape Hedo/Hedo Point)
If you would like to hike and enjoy a nice little site check out Hiji Falls. Located in the northern part of the island ,this is one of the most popular site in Okinawa. To reach the falls you have to hike 1.5 km from the bottom of the hill. The path is well establish but includes a lot of steep steps so make sure you wear comfortable shoes or sandals. Bring some water because during warmer days you will need it as you take the numerous steps along the trail. The 40-minute hike winds through heavily forested mountains and sub-tropical vegetation, then on to the cold, clear waters of the Hiji River. Once there, enjoy the 30 meters high water fall. You will have to pay 200 yen to enter the park grounds before you can hike up the falls. They also have campgrounds which will cost you 1000(?) for an overnight stay.

After hiking Hiji Falls you can trek up north to Cape Hedo , this is the northernmost point of the island. They have a nice little park grounds and some of the most beautiful scenery in Okinawa. Behind you have luscious green hills then in front of you is the cool breeze of the ocean. Cape Hedo is where Pacific Ocean meets South China Sea for this reason it makes one of the most beautiful and also dangerous dive and snorkel sites.

It is also one of the island’s most famous landmarks, attracting visitors both for its sheer beauty and for its craggy cliffs that offer challenges to climbers. Cape Hedo is one of the “must see” points of Okinawa, a mixture of awesome, luscious green hills absorbing the ever-present ocean breeze, and of breathtaking panoramas of the prefecture’s island expanse.

Cape Hedo is reached by traveling Highway 58, north from Nago City. The entire area offers visitors opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Onna Village is first along the route north, affording terrific locations for photography. Manzamo is a green grassy area along the village Westside. Manzamo is a field created by coral reefs, now capable of seating 10,000 people. The ocean’s 50 meters below the field, and the sights and sounds of crashing waves are hard to describe.

Cape Hedo has a small tourist rest stop, complete with restroom facilities and several food service operators. There are paths from the rest area to the end of the cliffs, where you can look down at the swirling waters below. A strong word of caution: be mindful of your children; the Cape Hedo location does not have many barricades and fences most Americans may expect.


Naha Tug-of-War
Held every October this Tug of War in Naha is the biggest in Japan. The Guinness Book of World Record certified the Naha's rope as the largest in the world measuring 186 meters in length, 1.56 in diameters and weighing in at 40 tons.
According to local history the tug of war is used to be held to pray for rain and good crop harvest or to give thanks to bountiful harvest. But now this event is one of the biggest festival in the island of Okinawa.

Naha Harii (Dragon Boat Races)

This festival which is held every year is one of Okinawa's traditional event. According to Local history this festival is for fisherman to pray for a safe voyage , a good catch and a thank to the sea gods for its blessings. Different organizations field teams every year for this event. Each year more than 150,000 spectators show up at the harii boat races.

Eisa Festival
Over 100,000 people line the streets of Naha’s famous Kokusai-dori to watch the different Eisa performing groups. Taiko drums reverberate the music from the samisen (a traditional Okinawa three-stringed musical instrument) plays and dancers sweat, this is eisa season!

goya bitter green vegetable that resembles a prickly cucumber. rich in vitamin C.

goya champuru

okinawa soba

okinawa taco rice

sata andagi

verbage courtesy / pics flickr

* i've visited.
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25 / M / Phoenix Arizona
Posted 4/14/10
Japan looks so beautiful. I cant wait till I can move there. How long have you been living there snow_san?
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M / 地獄の鳥居前に...
Posted 5/27/10
Okinawa is my hometown! Haha, i'm happy to see it being featured here and WOW!!! I never knew this much about it... Haha, I've only been back there once... =X Totally fell out with my roots... =__= But it was an unforgettable trip nonetheless! Thanks! These brought back some really wonderful memories!
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Posted 5/27/10

yu_sama wrote:

Okinawa is my hometown! Haha, i'm happy to see it being featured here and WOW!!! I never knew this much about it... Haha, I've only been back there once... =X Totally fell out with my roots... =__= But it was an unforgettable trip nonetheless! Thanks! These brought back some really wonderful memories!

yu-san!! glad it brought back some wonderful memories 4 ya!!
tis where i was born ~ from 2!! i try 2 get back every so years 2 c me jpn relatives!!

don't hold off 2 long on your return trip back there!!

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M / 地獄の鳥居前に...
Posted 5/27/10

snow_san wrote:

yu-san!! glad it brought back some wonderful memories 4 ya!!
tis where i was born ~ from 2!! i try 2 get back every so years 2 c me jpn relatives!!

don't hold off 2 long on your return trip back there!!

すげい! 同じな沖縄人を見るがお久しぶりですわ,懐かしい~
Sorry for my lousy japanese.. I fell out with my roots for a long time already... =__=
I wasn't born in Okinawa like Snow-san though, I'm more Chinese than Okinawajin, more Chinese blood. =P
Haha, I really wanna go back there again to visit my relatives. They are pretty warm people. But I'm ashamed that I can't speak Japanese as well as I can for English. =(
But they are very awed by me speaking fluent English. ^^lll
By the way, does Snow-san knows Okinawa dialect? Can you teach me? =)
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Posted 6/8/10
I'm brazilian, but my grandparents came from Okinawa. I hope I'll be able to go there someday!
All my friends that travelled there say that Okinawa is a fantastic place and wanna go there again and again lol

thanks a lot for the pics! =]
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Posted 6/9/10

hacchikko wrote:

I'm brazilian, but my grandparents came from Okinawa. I hope I'll be able to go there someday!
All my friends that travelled there say that Okinawa is a fantastic place and wanna go there again and again lol

thanks a lot for the pics! =]

hacchikko!! i'm glad u enjoyed all da pics!! i do hope u can go someday!!
the beaches r beautiful!!

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Posted 6/13/10
the beaches and the people! \o/
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23 / M
Posted 5/3/14
i do Ryukyu kobudo, hope fully ill get to go to okinawa some day to practice some karate
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