History / Culture / Tour Spots in Okinawa Area

  • Yui Rail Museum
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    4.0
    4099 Reviews
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Okinawa Pref. Nahashi Ashimine 377-2 Okinawa City Monorail Headquarters Inside the site
    Located onsite at the Okinawa City Monorail Corporation, this exhibition space has approximately 400 items on display. The first floor focuses on the monorail itself, and there’s a video showing the railway completion process. The second floor is dedicated to valuable documents, tickets, and other materials from the light railway that operated before the war. You can also use a computer to create your very own monorail paper model, and you can print it out and take it home with you. Entry is free.

    Only took it to get to the airport from Naha city, was a bit crowded at around 9am (tourists and commuters), but the trip was smooth. You can get a ticket easily from the machines (QR code on the...

  • Sefa Utaki
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    4.0
    1035 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Nanjoushi Chinen Kudeken
    Sefa Utaki is a historical site located in Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture. In December 2000 it was designated as part of the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Within Sefa Utaki there are six Ibi (sacred areas), from one of which, Sangui, there is a wonderful view of Kudaka Island (known as the “Island of the Gods”). Sefa Utaki is still venerated as a sacred place, and many people come to pray here.

    It is nearby Cape Chinen Park which we whisked by from. The carpark is pretty near the ticket office to purchase admission tickets. Thankfully the staff at the ticket office briefed us on the way to...

  • Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum
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    4.0
    694 Reviews
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Okinawa Pref. Nahashi Omoromachi 3-1-1
    The Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, which is the largest museum of its kind in Okinawa Prefecture, is located approximately 10 minutes’ walk from Omoromachi Station on the Okinawa Urban Monorail (Yuirail) line. Besides the Museum’s permanent exhibitions—which comprise general exhibitions relating to Okinawa’s natural environments, history and culture, as well as five sub-exhibitions on natural history etc.—special exhibitions are also held. The outdoor display area, with its reconstructions of a traditional Ryukyuan farmhouse and storehouse, is particularly popular with visitors. The Art Museum’s collections are focused on the work of artists with a connection to Okinawa island or Okinawa Prefecture, as well as modern and contemporary art; exhibits include contemporary artworks from Japan, other Asian countries, and the U.S.A., etc.

    Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Gallery *** must visit *** Another place you cannot miss when you visit Okinawa. A half day visit to the museum will allow you to have a quick glimpse into the...

  • Katsuren Castle Ruins
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    4.5
    555 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Urumashi Katsurenhaebaru 3908
    Amawari is said to have brought prosperity to Katsuren in the 15th century, and this is the castle where he resided. It was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2000. It stands on a hill between 60 and 98 meters above sea level, and it makes clever use of the natural cliff, featuring walls that form a graceful curve. The “Ichi-no Kuruwa (1st enclosure) ,” the highest point, offers an amazing view of the mountains and outlying islands that surround Kin Bay.

    Like most things in Okinawa it really pays to have a hire car to visit. It is possible via public transport but it will take you some time to get there from Naha. Its a beautiful castle ruins with...

  • Naminoue-gu Shrine
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    4.0
    765 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Nahashi Wakasa 1-25-11
    This temple located on a cliff edge above the waves has a long history. Naha Port was a base for trade with China, Southeast Asia, Korea and ancient Japan long ago, and it is said that shipping leaving the port would pray for a safe voyage, and shipping entering the port would give thanks for their safety. Various events such as the Shinkosai, Okinawan sumo tournaments, Ryukyu dancing and Enbu Taikai tournaments are held during and around the annual festival on May 17.

    10 minutes walk from central Naha, right next to a beautiful beach. This is a working shrine that is frequented by local people. We went to the New Years Eve ceremony !

  • The Tower of Himeyuri / Himeyuri Peace Museum
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    4.5
    423 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Itomanshi Ihara 671-1
    Himeyuri Memorial Tower is a cenotaph dedicated to the Himeyuri student corps who died in the Battle of Okinawa. The Himeyuri student corps was a group of 240 students and teachers of the Okinawa Shihan Women's School and Okinawa Daiichi Women's High School who were mobilized as a nursing unit for the Okinawan Army Field Hospital, towards the end of the Pacific War. Following the US military's advance at the end of May, they were withdrawn to the southern part of Okinawa Island, and abruptly disbanded in June. However, over 100 of them lost their lives soon after. In 1989, this museum was established to teach people about the wartime experiences of the Himeyuri student corps. The museum displays exhibits of the Himeyuri student corps personal possessions and photographs. There is also a diorama which is a reproduction of the Ihara Third Surgical Cave Hospital. The museum aims to make people consider war and peace through learning about the Himeyuri student corps' experiences.

    As I was not brought up with this part of ww2 it is interesting to understand what happened here. This site is one of remembering the people who were helping the wounded in the war and were they...

  • Zakimi Castle Ruins
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    4.0
    448 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Nakagamigunyomitanson Zakimi 708-6
    Gosamaru was renowned as a master castle architect, and these are the ruins of a castle he built at the start of the 15th century. It is replete with amazing sights, including the smooth curve of the castle walls and the elegant arch gateway, said to be the oldest in Okinawa. It is also a registered World Heritage Site. From the top of the castle, you can enjoy a splendid view of the East China Sea, and the sight of the sun sinking into its beautiful blue depths is one you won’t want to miss.

    We arrived by car from Best Western Okinawa Onna which is pretty nearby. Admission is free except for the museum. It’s a smaller castle Ruins than Nakijin Castle Ruins. We finished the walk atop the...

  • The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters
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    4.5
    402 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Tomigusukushi Tomigusuku 236
    The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters is an underground bunker complex constructed in 1944. There were around 450 meters of tunnels in total; the aim was to enable the defense of Okinawa to be carried on for as long as possible. The underground complex held a total of around 4,000 personnel; many lives were lost here. In 1970, 300 meters of the tunnels (including the command center) were restored, and opened to the public. There is a museum with a display of items recovered from the underground bunker complex, including weapons, uniforms, letters written to family members, etc.

    Best way to go about this museum is to start at the exhibition area where there were some artifacts and facts on the naval division and the war. Then, you will enter the tunnel down to where used to...

  • Tamaudun Royal Mausoleum
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    4.0
    411 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Nahashi Shurikinjouchou 1-3
    This is a mausoleum which was built in 1501 by King Sho Shin for the purpose of reburying the remains of his father, King Sho En, and thereafter successive generations from the dynasty were buried here. The grave chambers are divided into three rooms: the middle chamber is a room where remains are enshrined before the bones of the dead are cleansed, and the bones of the king and the queen are in the eastern chamber while the bones of other family members are buried in the western chamber. The whole mausoleum is a stone-built structure representing a palace with a shingle roof of that time, and the area of the cemetery is 2,442 square meters. It was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2000 as “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu”.

    For some odd reason, the thing that struck me the most here was the older woman who was raking the dirt of footprints and leaves. I felt like she was still in the service of the kings, probably...

  • Tsushima-maru Memorial Museum
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    4.0
    167 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Nahashi Wakasa 1-25-37
    This museum opened in Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture 60 years after the sinking for the Tsushima-maru in order to convey to children about the important of peace and life and to put the souls of the victims to rest, and to properly portray the event for future generations. The tour route starts on the second floor, where there is also an exhibit about the voyage and hit and sinking of the Tsushima-maru. The names and portraits of the Okinawan schoolchildren evacuees and victims are displayed on the first floor.

    A very interesting museum. But you have to be able to read Japanese kanji (Chinese characters) as there are no translations into other languages. I speak Japanese, but cannot read Kanji, so...

  • Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum
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    4.5
    118 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Itomanshi Mabuni 614-1
    The Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum is located within the Peace Memorial Park. It was established with the aim of commemorating all those who died during the Battle of Okinawa, of teaching new generations about the horror of war and the importance of peace, and of contributing to the achievement of perpetual world peace. The Museum’s permanent exhibitions feature photographs of the Battle of Okinawa and related artifacts and materials, as well as the recollections of people who experienced the Battle (including video testimony).

    We were glad that we could make it to visit this museum and learned about the commoners and soldiers from both sides living and fighting in this horrific war. The exhibits were plentiful and...

  • Shuri Castle
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Nahashi Shuritounokurachou 3-1
    Shuri Castle is a former residence of the kings of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It was burnt and lost at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 but restored in 1992 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan. In 2000, it was registered as a World Heritage Site as one of the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu. It is located on top of a hill and is famous as a picturesque place as you can enjoy a panoramic view of Naha City. As it is illuminated in the evening, you can enjoy a magical Shuri Castle which is different from during the daytime.
  • Naha Municipal Tsuboya Pottery Museum
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    4.0
    151 Reviews
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Okinawa Pref. Nahashi Tsuboya 1-9-32
    This museum dedicated to the subject of Tsuboya ware and other Okinawan pottery (known as yachimun in the Okinawan language) is about a 10-minute walk from Makishi Station on the Okinawa Urban Monorail. It is located on Tsuboya Yachimun Street, which is lined with many Okinawan yachimun potteries. The museum's first floor provides exposition on the history of Tsuboya ware and the role it played in everyday life in Okinawa. The second floor presents characteristic works of Tsuboya ware as well as the production process. The museum also exhibits the works of potters including the Living National Treasure Jiro Kinjo.

    Lovely street with arts and crafts where I didnt find at Yomitan village. There are some really unique pieces.

  • Nakamura Family Resident
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    4.0
    120 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Nakagamigunkitanakagusukuson Ogusuku 106
    This house has all of the characteristics of pre-war Okinawan residential buildings, and has been designated a national Important Cultural Property. It is rare on Okinawa’s main island for there to be an example of such premises in good condition, and it is a valuable monument to know about the lives of upper-class farmers at that time. Built in the middle of the 18th century, it is a wooden building with a hip roof and tile roofing.

    I found this an interesting place. Amazing its still remains and as such I consider this a must see. Free shuttle bus from the mall and it also stops at the castle. We walked from the Castle to here...

  • Futenmangu Shrine and Cave
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    4.0
    94 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Ginowanshi Futenma 1-27-10
    This is one of the Ryukyu Eight Shrines that received special treatment from the royal government of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Located in the Futenma area of Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture, it is the largest shrine in central Okinawa and has many visitors. It has a 280-meter-long caves with two entrances and three large plazas, and the cave is a city-designated cultural property where you can see cave notches showing traces of past water flow.

    We paid a visit to this shrine which is nice but very small. Roadwork was handled nearby. Half the room is set for souvenirs sale. Not so interesting if I may.

  • Kume Island Sea Turtle Museum
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    4.0
    126 Reviews
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Okinawa Pref. Shimajirigunkumejimachou Oku 170
    The Kume Island sea turtle building is a museum and display facility dedicated to sea turtles, which is located on Oujima Island in Kumejima District. The facility breeds sea turtles (which are on the verge of extinction); visitors can get a close view of sea turtles swimming about in large tanks; and there are display panels and videos providing information about their natural habitat; the facility also holds occasional special events when visitors can have the opportunity to handle turtles themselves. The facility also has displays of over 2,000 shells from different shellfish found in Kume Island.

    I personally prefer to see turtles in the ocean but I was nearby so I figured I’d check it out. Entry was only 300 JPY, which is good value. There were some turtles in very small pools which I was...

  • Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory
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    4.0
    110 Reviews
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Okinawa Ishigaki-shi Arakawa 1024-1
    "This astronomical observatory is equipped with the 105 cm ""Murikabushi Boenkyo,"" the largest optical and infrared reflector telescope in Kyushu and Okinawa. It was established in 2006 on the peak of Mt. Maesedake, the highest spot on Ishigaki Island. Its location on Ishigaki Island allows the observation of many stars that cannot be seen on Japan's main island. It is also said that more stars can be observed here than anywhere else in Japan. The facility, which is open to the public, conducts observational research on solar system celestial bodies and transient astronomical events. It also actively holds stargazing parties and other events including free 4D2U viewings."

    My wife and I made the trip to the astrological observatory and it was definitely worth it! For someone who enjoys driving, the touge road up to the observatory is one way so no risk of meeting on...

  • Kuroshima Research Station
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    4.0
    105 Reviews
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Okinawa Yaeyama-gun Taketomicho Kuroshima 136
    This research station is located in Kuroshima, Taketomi town, Yaeyama County. They research plant and animal life on Kuroshima Island, particularly the sea turtles who visit to lay eggs. Equipped with biological raising rooms and material display rooms, they have exhibits with living sea turtles, coconut crab, and habu snakes, as well as material exhibits with coral specimens, and fragments of H2A rockets which drifted ashore to Kuroshima Island from Tanegashima Island.

    Its one of the best aquariums Ive visited. I spent here more than 1,5 hour and absolutely didn t get bored. There are many species of sharks, turtles and various exotic fishes in open aquariums...

  • Torin-ji Temple
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    3.5
    110 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Ishigakishi Ishigaki 285
    The Torin Temple is a Myoshin-ji school Rinzai Buddhist temple in Ishigaki City. It was founded in 1614 following a request from the Satsuma han (domain). The building was damaged by the Meiwa Tsunami in 1771, but was rebuilt in 1786. The temple suffered serious damage during the Battle of Okinawa in1945; it was rebuilt once again in 1947. The Torin-ji Temple has been designated as a National Important Cultural Property; it is the oldest wooden building in Okinawa. Statues of the two Deva Kings (guardian deities) flank the Sanmon gate; these carved statues are a Prefecture-designated Cultural Property.

    It’s a small temple that only takes a few minutes to visit. It holds significant historical value to the Yaeyama islands. The temple is well-maintained. It’s a trip that this building is over 400...

  • Okinawa Gokoku Shrine
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    4.0
    80 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Okinawa Pref. Nahashi Ounoyamachou 44
    This shrine is dedicated to the souls of Okinawan soldiers who sacrificed themselves from Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War and the Pacific War, the civilians who died in the battle for Okinawa, and mainland Japanese. Besides various ceremonies to commemorate them, prayers and dispatch services can also be requested.

    Easy access from monorail and clear signs to get there as well. This tranquil temple is less crowded and is such a peaceful place to visit. Highly recommended.

Okinawa Areas

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Let go of your image of a busy, ordered Japan and replace it with crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and relaxing folk music: You’ve arrived in Okinawa. A world away from the high intensity of Tokyo, Okinawans appear to live a laid-back beach life on this paradisiacal tropical island that lies in the middle of the East China Sea almost 1,000 kilometers south of mainland Japan’s most southern tip. Home to a spattering of islands, prepare yourself to discover underwater caves, star-shaped sand, and an island culture sometimes unrecognizable from mainland Japan.

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