Southern Okinawa Main Island has a long history dating from the age of Ryukyuan mythology up to the present time. Sefa Utaki and Kudaka Island, home to many Ryukyuan myths, are worshipped as sacred places, and the prosperity of the Ryukyu Kingdom can be seen in historical sites such as Shurijo Castle and Shikina-En Gardens. Since the area was the site of numerous victims in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, there are many memorial cenotaphs and museums in honor of peace in this area. Kokusai Street, called, “The Miracle Mile” because of its rapid recovery during the post-war era, is always crowded with shoppers.
Kokusai Street near the Okinawa Prefectural Government Building is the main street in Naha City. There are many souvenir shops and restaurants, etc. located here. Naha City is also home to DFS Galleria Okinawa, which is the only place in Japan to enjoy domestic duty free savings on the world’s leading luxury brands, while Tomigusuku City, adjacent to Naha City, is home to the “Ashibinaa” outlet mall. You can purchase famous domestic and overseas brand items at affordable prices here. In addition, Shuri, which previously flourished as the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom, many historic sites such as Shurijo Castle Park, which was partially restored in 1992, are scattered about this area. The magnificent decorations known as Shureimon and Seiden of Shurijo Castle prove the castle is deserving of its designation as a World Heritage Site.
The Main Island Southern Region was the site of a hard-fought battle between Japan and the U.S. in World War II. Today, there are many museums and monuments honoring the memory of those who lost their lives during this difficult time. Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Park located on the hills of Mabuni is one such site. The Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum in the park displays valuable photos as well as the personal testimonies of Okinawans to remind us of the bloodiness of war. Moreover, A Cornerstone of Peace was erected to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa and World War II. Inscribed on it are the names of all those who died in the fighting irrespective of nationality. Many visitors can also still be seen placing flowers on the Himeyuri-no-Toh War Memorial built in honor of the Himeyuri Student Corps.
In Okinawa, there was one area, Sefa-utaki, that was worshipped as a sacred place since ancient times. Sefa-utaki is hallowed ground representative of Okinawa and is said to have been created by the creator, Amamikiyo, in Ryukyuan mythology. In the era of the Ryukyu Kingdom, men were prohibited from entering this place and inauguration ceremonies for Kikoe Ogimi, Ryukyu’s highest-ranking priestess were held here. There is a solemn air about the two massive rocks that symbolize Sefa-utaki. A panoramic view of Kudaka Island is also possible from Sefa-utaki. Kudaka Island is called the “Island of the Gods”, and it is said that Amamikiyo descended from heaven to this island. Sacred places still remain on the island to this day.