Translated by Lester Somera
Get Ready For Summer! Places To Visit In Southern Okinawa
Okinawa is Japan's premier resort island, with a beach season that starts in April. Here are four Okinawa locations to visit if you plan a summer trip.
Written by LIFE STYLE, Inc.
Okinawa - where the blue sky and the open sea join at the distant horizon. The island is Japan’s leading resort area.
Beginning in April in the southern islands, Okinawa’s beach-going season has the earliest start in Japan (while Tokyo’s beach-going season starts sometime in July). To help you plan your Okinawa trip, we have compiled a list of recommended spots to visit, which we will introduce with Google Street View.
1. Shuri Castle: Weaver of the History of the Ryūkyū Dynasty
Okinawa is well-known for its many castle ruin sites. One of these sites is Shuri Castle. With a totally different culture from other Japanese castles, and a history spanning 450 years, you could say that this splendid location symbolizes the Ryūkyū kingdom, as it was the former center of Okinawan government, diplomacy and cultural affairs. Restored to its former glory after being utterly destroyed by war, it was registered as a World Cultural Heritage site in 2000. Take a look at its vermilion-painted walls and red-bricked roof.
Built on a slightly-elevated hill, Shuri Castle is also unusual for the walls that encircle it; instead of forming straight lines like most Japanese castles, they draw gentle curves. You can feel the Sino-Japanese cultural influence on the castle, due to the sumptuous ornamentation and construction techniques. To really add another layer of enjoyment to your visit, read up on the history of Shuri Castle before you go.
Tamaudun: The Resting Place of Ryūkyū Emperors
If you go to Shuri Castle, you should visit Tamaudun as well. Tamaudun is an imperial tomb which houses successive generations of the Ryūkyū kingdom’s rulers. Just like nearby Shuri Castle, it is a registered World Heritage site.
At grave sites in Okinawa Prefecture, people will erect a unique variation on the so-called tombstone; instead of putting up the stone markers often seen in Japan or Christian crosses, some graves are built to look exactly like miniature houses.
It is customary in Okinawa for entire families to gather together at graves and hold prayers and memorial services, then have a party to celebrate their ancestors.
Hold a BBQ Party at Azama Sansan Beach
No matter where you are in Okinawa, if you’re standing on a beach, the scenery is almost guaranteed to be gorgeous. However, this time we’d like to introduce a place in southern Okinawa where you can also enjoy a beach BBQ: Azama Sansan Beach.
Azama Sansan Beach is located beside Azama Harbor. The beach is man-made, and has stores, shower areas, coin lockers and other services. Equipment for BBQs can be rented on the premises, so after enjoying a dip in the clear blue sea, grill and be merry with friends and family. The beach is also quite wide, so it has its charms as a swimming spot.
Arakaki Chinsuko: A Long-Established Shop Specializing in Okinawa’s Staple Souvenir
Since Okinawa enjoys great popularity as a resort destination, and has a cultural history separate from the rest of Japan, finding good souvenirs is no problem. Actually, you’re more likely to have trouble deciding what to buy from the many available souvenirs. If so, you can’t go wrong with chinsuko.
Chinsuko is made from flour, sugar and lard, and its appeal lies in its sweet, shortbread-like texture. In addition to the plain variety, there are also plenty of varieties which are uniquely Okinawan: kurozatō brown sugar, purple yam, mango, pineapple, snow salt and more.
Today we want to recommend the shop Arakaki Chinsuko, which has carried on its traditions for 400 years, ever since the era of the Ryūkyū kingdom. Recognized by various sweets makers as a true industry veteran, one bite of an Arakaki chinsuko and the taste will transport you back to the Ryūkyū days.
What do you think? Did you come to understand a bit more about why Okinawa is such a popular resort destination? Of course, you won’t totally understand until you experience its charms for yourself. Be sure to consider a visit to Okinawa for your next vacation!
Address: Naha, Shurikinjōchō 1 Chome-2
Hours: 08:30 - 19:00 (changes according to season)
Closed: The first Wednesday in July and the following day
Price: 820 yen (adults) 620 yen (elementary schoolers and above) 310 yen (toddlers)
Phone number: 098-886-2020
Address: Naha, Shurikinjōchō 1 Chome-3
Hours: 09:00 - 18:00
Price: 300 yen (adults) 150 yen (elementary schoolers and above)
Phone number: 098-885-2861
Azama Sansan Beach
Address: Nanjō, Chinen, Azama-1141-3
Hours: 09:00 - 18:00
Parking: Yes (pay parking)
Phone number: 098-948-3521
Arakaki Chinsuko, Main Branch (International Road, Makishi Location)
Address: Naha, Makishi, 1 Chome-3-68
Hours: 09:30 - 21:00
Closed: 1/1, 1/2
Phone number: 098-867-2949