Five Okinawa Island Tourist Destinations Easily Accessible by Yui Rail
Travel from the airport to tourist spots is easy on Okinawa's only train system, Yui Rail! Here are five tourist destinations easily accessible by Yui Rail.
Naminoue Shrine, which sits atop a steep bluff by the sea, is one of Okinawa's most famous shrines. It's not clear when it was built, but it is said to have long been a sacred location where daily prayers were offered to the gods of the seas (Niraikanai). Although shrines usually have a pair of mythical guardian animals called komainu at the gate, Naminoue Shrine is characterized by its shisa guardian statues, which are unique to Okinawa, as well as the red tiled roof of the main shrine. This is a place where you can enjoy an atmosphere different from other shrines.
Access: Fifteen minutes on foot from Asahibashi Station.
This is Naha's main street, filled with souvenir shops and Okinawan restaurants lining a stretch of 1.6km from the crossing at the north entrance of the prefectural office building to the three-way intersection at Asato. The name derives from the movie theater called Ernie Pyle International Theater ("kokusai" means "international") that was located near the center of the street. It is a place you can enjoy in many ways, such as shopping and gourmet. On Sundays, the street is closed to cars from noon to 6 pm from the crossing at the north entrance of the prefectural office building to the crossing in front of Makishi Station so you can safely enjoy the street performers, Eisa (traditional Okinawan dance) and mini live performances.
Access: Five minutes on foot from Prefectural Office Station.
This market has been beloved by locals for more than 60 years as the kitchen of Okinawa residents. The market is filled with a great variety of products, from fresh seafood such as locally caught gurukun (banana fish), Okinawa's prefectural fish, and the beautiful blue irabucha (knobsnout parrotfish) and peeled abasa (porcupinefish) to tropical fruits and vegetables and meats. The second floor is the restaurant floor where you can have items purchased downstairs cooked. The market is fun just to browse in, but if you can, take the opportunity to purchase food that catches your eye and to enjoy some cooking.
Access: Ten minutes on foot from Makishi Station.
3. Daiichi Makishi Kousetsu Ichiba
This is Japan's only duty free shop with more than 130 brands outside of airports, from Burberry and Dior to Michael Kors. With a wide selection, including items available only at DFS, it is a shopping destination particularly popular among women. There is an area where you can check in your baggage near the main entrance on the second floor, so you can shop unencumbered. Products purchased duty free are picked up at the dedicated counter in Naha Airport so you can enjoy shopping without having to worry about transporting your purchases.
Access: Directly connected to Omoromachi Station.
This was the home of the king of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which lasted for 450 years from 1429 to 1879. Distinguished by its vivid colors, it is the largest wooden structure in Okinawa. The kingdom flourished through trade as reflected in the castle's Ryukyu style of architecture, which is a mixture of Chinese and Japanese architectural styles. Although the whole area was burned to the ground during the Second World War, the castle was rebuilt in 1992 and designated a World Heritage Site in 2000. The portion open to the public as Shurijo Castle Park is just a part of the site. Reconstruction work is still ongoing today. This would be a good place to reflect on the history of Okinawa that was influenced by a variety of different cultures.
Access: Ten minutes on foot from Shurijo Station.
Yui Rail offers one-day tickets (700 JPY (incl. tax)), so take advantage of them!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.