Naha is a gateway to Okinawa and the first place you visit will most likely be Naha Airport. For first-timers and people with only limited time in Okinawa, a travel plan within Naha emphasizing short distances between locations might be most suitable.
We suggest you look into the travel plan within Naha which requires only walking or taking public transportation.
This is also a convenient course for transit visitors as well, since you can visit all the sites within one day.
From Naha Airport, your first destination is the World Heritage Site, Shurijo Castle Park which is accessible by Yui Rail.
After fully observing the castle, let’s eat Okinawa’s specialty dish, Okinawa soba when in the Shuri area.
Take Yui Rail again and head to the duty free shopping mall which is directly connected with Omoromachi Station.
Continuing on, head to Makishi Station which will give you ample time to do shopping on the famous Kokusai Street.
Take a break in the charming Tsuboya area, head to the Chinese Garden for a relaxing walk before you close the tour for the day.
1. SHURIJO CASTLE PARK
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 31st, 2019.
News about the Shurijo Castle Park closure can be found here.
Shurijo Castle represents one of Okinawa’s prime sightseeing spots and was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2000. The glory of the Ryukyu Kingdom era still lingers in this castle. Although there are areas in the park that require admission fees, you can see the area around the Golden Palace in the site for free. Almost all of the buildings were destroyed during the WWII, and the restoration work took decades to complete.
2. Enjoy Ryukyu Cosplay at the World Heritage Site Shurijo Castle Park
Wearing traditional costume from the era of the Kingdom of the Ryukus 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, and it takes about an hour to get into 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 Kingdom of the Ryukus. Having a stroll in the facility lets you imagine the lives of people back in that time.
Experience of Ryuku Costume by Mode Mariage is a comprehensive activity with a luxurious costume, hair styling, and make-up done by producers of court-style weddings, and a guided tour with a history specialist. At the Zakimi Castle Ruins, also a World Heritage Site, there are tourist plans including picture taking in a Ryuku costume. Why not be a King or Queen for the day?
3. SHURI SOBA
This is an Okinawa soba restaurant located on a quiet residential street nearby Shuri station of Yui Rail.
As delicious as the flavorful clear soup is, the most attractive feature of soba here is the handmade chewy noodles.
The combination of the chewiness and the soup will instantly turn you into a fan of the dish.
As the popular soba is often sold out by the early afternoon, come here early.
Shuri Soba Official Website*Only in Japanese.
4. T Galleria Okinawa
T Galleria Okinawa is easily accessible since it is directly connected from Omoromachi station of Yui Rail. This is the only downtown duty free shopping mall in Japan, and you can purchase brand products at cheaper prices than the normal domestic price. Over 130 brands of goods, including the latest collections of leading brands and limited items, are offered here, furthermore, cosmetics, perfumes, artifacts and local souvenirs are also available.
5. Kokusai Street
Kokusai Street, also called Miracle Mile, is a 1.6-kilometer-long major shopping and sightseeing spot in Naha. Souvenir shops, restaurants, izakaya and more line the street, which is always crowded with people. On every Sunday afternoon, the street becomes a pedestrian paradise that has a festival-like atmosphere since some events like eisa dance performances are held here from time to time.
6. Uchina Chaya Buku Buku
This is an old-house-style café located in the backstreets of Tsuboya Yachimun Street.
This café, which used to be a radio station, was built in 1952 and is made in a mixture of old and new styles. Homemade Ryukyu sweets and traditional buku-buku tea are served here. The tea comes topped with a fluffy white foam made from roasted rice and has a complex and deep taste. Enjoy it with traditional Okinawan sweets such as Po-po that is pork miso (andansu) wrapped in white crepes.
Uchina Chaya Buku Buku*Only in Japanese.
7. Fukushu En Park
This is a Chinese-style garden which features scenery of Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China. The garden was established to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of friendly relations between Fuzhou and Naha City, and the 70th Anniversary of municipalization of Naha as a city.
It is built in Chinese style, and reflects the huge influence of China on the culture of Okinawa during the Great Trading Era of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The aesthetic is heightened by a pond, an artificial hill, a waterfall, plantings and carvings which come together to make a peaceful scenery.
8. Interact with the Locals at a Folk Music Bar
Listen to live Okinawan folk songs while enjoying the taste of local food and taking a sip of Okinawan liquor – Awamori. The band plays heartfelt folk songs about love and hometowns. When they play upbeat songs, the locals stand up to dance. The audiences are invited to come on stage to sing with the band. The fun and exciting performance is a must-see for any visitor. Okinawa’s traditional musical instrument, the sanshin, has a very comforting tone. It is no surprise that the sounds of sanshin relaxes the mind and relieves us from stress. Minyo Sakaba are Japanese style pubs that offer live performances of local folk songs. There are other similar establishments, such as Folk-Song Clubs, and Folk-Song Snacks. The new trend is Folk-Song Izakaya, or Folk-Song Pubs and these types of establishments are crowded with customers. From casual establishments with live music to hideaways for the locals, there are diverse styles of folk-song bars available to suit your needs.
Okinawa Local Cuisine Angama*Only in Japanese.
A Quaint Slope in Shurijo Castle Town
After about 500 years, the Kinjo Stone-paved Road in Shuri Still Remains
Madama road was built as a main road from Shuri to southern Okinawa during the age of Ryukyu king Sho Shin. The construction started in 1522, and the road extended to Kinjo-cho, Shikina and the southern shore of Naha Port. Most of the road was destroyed during the WWII; however, 250 meters of the road survived through the war and was named Kinjo Stone-paved Road. This road was designated as an Okinawa prefectural historical site and selected in the best 100 roads in Japan. The road is made out of Ryukyu limestone, and still has walls remaining along the road. The Stone-paved Road is on an incline and there is a red-tiled roof rest house on the road. Take a rest there when you get tired. Looking on the view from here, you may get a sense of life back in the Ryukyu Kingdom days.