It is my first trip to Okinawa. Shurijo Castle Park, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, these are the places I want to visit, but I don’t know the location and in what order I should visit.” Here are the recommended plans for the first-timers to visit the major tourist spots. You don’t need to worry about anything as long as you have this plan!
Walk around Naha city on Day 1 of your arrival at Naha Airport.
Try local food in the airport, and head to T Galleria Okinawa by Yui Rail.
After that, go to the popular sightseeing site Shurijo Castle Park and feel the history of the Ryukyus.
Move to the Kokusai Street area and visit Makishi Public Market, Heiwa Street, Tsuboya Yachimun(Pottery) Street, and Kokusai Street in that order. All are within walking distance. Finally, go out to the Minyo (folk song) izakaya Zizake Yokocho on Kokusai Street. Enjoy drinking and dancing there.
Many restaurants serving various types of dishes, including Okinawan cuisine, are located on the 4F of Naha Airport Domestic Terminal. Donburi Restaurant Shiki is especially popular for donburi (rice bowl) dishes which are based on Okinawan cuisine. The Egg-drop Goya bowl, based on the popular goya champuru (stir-fried bitter melon), is undoubtedly something you will love. Enjoy the crunchiness of goya and the flavor of pork.
Donburi Restaurant “Shiki” Information*Only in Japanese.
This is the only downtown duty free shop in Japan, and over 130 brands are available here. It features a huge parking lot, and it is conveniently positioned adjacent to the Yui Rail Omoromachi station. Purchased tax-free items will be available for collection at the airport before boarding instead of taking them away with you from the shop, so anybody can use this system without worrying about baggage while sightseeing.
In the wake of the fire at Shurijo Seiden, Shurijo Castle Park, namely the facilities inside the park including paid admission facilities, is subject to unscheduled closure from October 31.
News about the Shurijo Castle Park closure
The sightseeing spot, which represents Okinawa, was designated as a world heritage site in 2000, and is the landmark that symbolizes the prosperity of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It is on about 5 hectare of land. However, only a part of the park is open to the public. Visitors need to follow a series of arrows, and it takes between 1 hour to 1 hour & 30 minutes to take a tour. If you want to take more time to see the park, take a free tour guide with you. The tour guide will show you the zones that have an admission fee.
Wearing traditional costume from the Ryukyu Kingdom era changes your frame of mind. Visitors can try on traditional costumes, take photos, and participate in a tour of the Shurijo Castle Park. The ladies will get a full professional hair styling and make-up. It takes about an hour to get fitted in the costume. At first, it may feel a little awkward to walk among other tourists in a costume, but after a while, you may feel like you are one of the royal family from the old Ryukyu Kingdom. Having a stroll in the facility lets you imagine the lives of people back in time. Experience of Ryukyu costume by Mode Mariage is a comprehensive activity replete with luxurious costume, hair styling, and make-up done by producers of court-style weddings, and includes a guided tour with a history specialist. At the Zakimi Castle Ruins (also a World Heritage Site), there are tourist plans which include picture taking in a Ryukyu costume. Why not be a King or Queen for the day?
Makishi Public Market has relocated due to ongoing renovations.
Various types of ingredients including fresh fish, meat, daily food and dry food are available at this stimulating and excitement-filled market.
Senior experienced staff are so energetic. A system called “mochiage (lift-up)” is popular for tourists.
This is the system that you purchase fresh fish on the 1F of the market and ask for a staff of a restaurant to cook the purchased fish, which will be served on the 2F (500 yen each for cooking).
Don’t miss it if you want to try the local fresh seafood.
Heiwa Street is an arcade which starts from in front of Okinawa Mitsukoshi, and has souvenirs and folk crafts suitable for young people.
After passing through the arcade, you will reach Tsuboya, a district where potters from the surrounding areas were once gathered by order of the Ryukyu Government. Along the well-maintained Tsuboya Yachimun Street, various types of yachimun (pottery) are lined up at old and new shops.
Enjoy a relaxed atmosphere while feeling the history!
Tsuboya Yachimun Street Association Official Website*Only in Japanese.
When it comes to shopping in Naha City, Kokusai Street features prominently. It is always filled with tourists, and has many souvenir shops and restaurants. If you want to go to find fancy or unique items head to the back streets. Traditional and modern mixed folk craft shops, fancy cafes and stand-like coffee shops are located on New Paradise Street behind the Matsuo bus stop. It is a place with a different feel to the nearby Kokusai Street.
This is an izakaya on Kokusai Street where you can enjoy Okinawan cuisine and the local sake Awamori while listening to traditional folk song performances. A performance by band members, including singers, takes the stage 3 times a night, and requests from guests are also welcomed. Lyrics of folk songs that represent Okinawa are displayed on tables, so you can take a look at them. You might even get up and start dancing with guests and staff when you get excited!
Izakaya “Zizake Yokocho” Official Website*Only in Japanese.