Okinawa: Come for the culture, stay for the history

Okinawa is by accounts one of the most culturally significant areas in the entirety of Japan. Part of what is referred to as the Ryukyu Islands which stretch all the way from Kyushu to Taiwan, Okinawa would officially became a prefecture of Japan in 1879. Owing to this, Okinawan culture is heavily influenced by religious and cultural practices of other Asian countries such as Thailand and China. Recently, we at Fun Japan had the opportunity to spend a relaxing time in the island capital of Okinawa, which is Naha. Naha is known as the economic center of Okinawa and was once regarded as the commercial hub in the former Ryukyu Kingdom during the early medieval period.

Access / modes of transportation to Naha

Naha international airport is accessible via most if not all of Japan’s national airports.

From Fukuoka to Naha international airport it takes just over 1 hour 30 minutes. The recommended airline for this flight is Peach, if booked at least 1 month in advance a return flight can cost as little as 12,000 yen (additional charge for non-carry-on baggage).

*We suggest that all flights have a arrival and departure booking from between Monday to Thursdays, this due to the fact that prices for flights tend to increase significantly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 

Transportation in Naha

As for Transport the only means of transportation you will find on Naha Island is monorail and bus. You can purchase IC cards at stations around Naha, in addition you can also buy 1-day (700 yen) and 2-day (1,200 yen) monorail passes. However our advice is to pre-plan any locations that you wish to visit as many of the interesting places can be reached within 15 minutes to an hour by foot.

Places to See
Shuri Castle

Okinawa as previously mentioned is a culturally significant places, this in many cases is owed to it being home to many world heritage sites. As such no trip is complete without a trip to the world renowned Shuri castle (首里城 shurijo).



This castle is one of the former Ryukyu Gusuku (royal castles). Due to the destruction caused by the battle of Okinawa in 1945, Shuri was almost completely gone. However, in 1992 through the use of pictures, historical records and to some extent memory the castle was fully refurbished. 


Shurijo castle is truly a majesty to behold in itself. From the beautifully red Houshinmon (Houshin gate) which welcome you upon your arrival, to the beautiful castles. Shurijo is adorned with golden dragons and images of the
shisha ,or lion dogs, which are a favoured mythological animal in Okinawa culture, as well as Buddhist jewels.


While much of the area is free of charge to walk around, it is worth paying the 820 yen of entrance fee to enter the inner sections of the castle (No shoes inside). In addition to exhibitions containing pieces of art from the early Ryukyu kingdom periods, you can wander around and see the reconstructed areas of the castle. The first floor consists of the Shichagui area in which the king would conduct political affairs, followed by Usasuka, the place where Her Majesty presided over cultural ceremonies. The second floor consists of servant quarters, celebration rooms and the beautiful royal throne.

Access to Shujiro

Shurijo is located in the Shuri district of Naha.

By bus : From Asahibashi station take the 7, 8 or number 10 bus. This costs 230 yen and takes around 20 minutes.

By foot : For the person who wants to make the most of the trip to the castle, we suggest going by foot. From Kokusai dori this walk takes 1 hour and by going on foot you can make detours to the Tamaudun Mausoleum, Shikinaen Garden, the Okinawan Prefectural Museum and Awamori sake factory which are must see places !

Shurijo castles opening hours vary depending on the month.

Apr. to Jun. (8:30 to 19:00) Last entry: 18:30
Jul. to Sep. (8:30 to 20:00) Last entry: 19:30
Oct. to Nov. (8:30 to 19:00) Last entry: 18:30
Dec. to Mar. (8:30 to 18:00) Last entry: 17:30.

The Park is closed on the first Wednesday and Thursday of July, every year.


Okinawa World

Another place which is highly recommended in Naha is the famous Okinawa world theme park.



Okinawa world is comprised of three separate areas which consist of Gyokusendo cave, Kingdom village and Hebu park. While this may not seem like much, you get more than the price of admission. Gyokusendo cave is a beautiful cave with rock formations that you have to see to believe, this cave is 5000 meters in length and has taken 300,000 years to reach its current state. The Kingdom village was by far our favourite area, this is comprised of reconstructed housing, shrines complete with priests based on old ryukyu villages.


In addition you can watch a free show of Eisa dance. Eisa dance is a traditional form of dance which uses songs, dance, acrobatics and martial arts seeped in Okinawan traditions. At the end of the show the dancers even allow you the chance to take a free picture with them.



After the visit of the village, we had the chance to learn how to create glass cups from a master craftsmen. Finally we decided to move on to Hebu park, an area that houses a number of species of snakes from all Okinawa Island. You can get close and personal with them.


Access to Okinawa world

Okinawa world is situated in Nanjo, the best way to get there is the bus.

From Naha bus terminal, take the number 83 bus to Gyokusendo-mae which stops right in front of the park and takes 1 hour. This costs 580 yen for a one way journey. Buses are every 1-2 hours, so be sure to plan your trip.

Opening hours are 9:00 to 18:00 and entry fee to the park depends on the areas you wish to visit. An all-inclusive pass is 1600 yen whilst, Gyukusendo Cave & Kingdom Village only is 1,240yen, whilst Kingdom Village & Habu Center at 1,130 yen.

We hope that our little trip description gives you a foretaste of what it is like to visit Okinawa and hope to see you soon on Fun Japan ! 


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