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3 Compact Theme Tours in Naha

The city of Naha is the bustling capital of Okinawa Prefecture, which in the Ryukyu Kingdom era was the main port and hub of foreign trade with South-East Asia, China, Japan, and Korea, and it has continued to flourish ever since. This lively city is full of new and old charms. Visitors can combine the Yui Rail and taxis to enjoy compact tours with various themes depending on their interest, all within about six hours. Here, we introduce three such tours themed “History and Culture,” “Arts,” and “Cuisine.” Which Naha tour would you like to choose?

A Journey in the Footsteps of History and Culture (Approximately 5 Hours)

To learn about history and culture, Naha has numerous facilities and locations dating back to the Ryukyu Kingdom days, where a visitor can feel the atmosphere of a bygone era. Visiting these locations is a journey back in time.

Naha City Museum of History (Approx. 60 Min.)

Thanks to many generous donors, the Museum displays a large collection ranging from National Treasures like documents related to the Sho family of Ryukyu kings to arts, crafts, artifacts and historical records. It’s conveniently located in Palette Kumoji, the department store near the Okinawa Prefectural Government Office. Take a quiet moment away from the clatter of the city and learn about how the unique culture and identity of Okinawa and its people developed through its history.

 Take the Yui Rail to Gibo Station and continue on foot (Approx. 30 Min.)

Ryukyu Tearoom Ashibiuna (Approx. 60 Min.)

Ryukyu Teahouse Ashibiuna serves dishes made with local Okinawan ingredients that are delicious to eat and delightful to the eye in a relaxing atmosphere. Housed in a traditional home of Ryukyuan architecture, the restaurant stands on the historical site of Misato Udun, a former residence of royalty.

 Continue on Foot (Approx. 10 Min.)

Shurijo Castle Park (Approx. 60 Min.)

The Shurijo Castle in the Shurijo Castle Park was the center of politics, diplomacy, and culture of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The Castle’s Seiden main hall, and some of the surrounding structures were lost in the fire on October 31, 2019. Since then, the Park has steadily expanded areas for visitors to view, taking firm and positive steps on the road to restoration. The Park grounds are a perfect and pleasant area for a stroll with many interesting spots to see, such as the stone gate of the sacred Sonoyan-utaki Ishimon, which is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 Continue on Foot (Approx. 5 Min.)

Shuri Ryusen (Approx. 30 Min.)

Shuri Ryusen is the first Bingata research and laboratory facility in Okinawa specializing in dyes extracted from natural plants, established in 1973 with the objective of restoring the art of Bingata dyeing, and to further develop and preserve the techniques to the future generations. It sells merchandise made using traditional Bingata dyeing methods originally developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom era and which continue to this day. They also sell products made with Sango Zome, or “coral dyeing” that is a homegrown technique of Shuri Ryusen. Introductory Bingata and Coral dyeing experiences are available every day. Interested persons can make a reservation on Shuri Ryusen website.

 Travel by Taxi (Approx. 15 Min.)

Shikinaen Royal Garden (Approx. 60 Min.)

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Shikinaen was the largest secondary residence for the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom who used it as a retreat and to entertain visiting foreign envoys. Its design is known as “Kaiyu-Shiki,” lets people strolling around the pond in the center to enjoy a changing scenery. The pond, known as “Shin-Ike,” is constructed in the shape of a Chinese character “” (heart).? On the small isle at the center of the pond is a hexagonal Chinese-style gazebo with large and small arches. The architecture and landscape throughout the garden have a distinctively Ryukyuan touch. For example, Ryukyu limestone is used to shape the edges of the pond. The garden is a wonderful oasis in the middle of the city for visitors to relax and enjoy the peaceful and calming atmosphere.

A Journey to Appreciate the Arts (Approximately 5 Hours)

Resort Department Store Okinawa (Approx. 40 Min.)

This department store sells specialty goods from all across Okinawa. It’s a place to find great gifts, souvenirs and a variety of items to meet every lifestyle. All merchandise has special stories behind them that customers also enjoy. Adjacent to the department store, is Rakuen CAFé, serving Okinawan food, drinks, and a delightful vegan menu. The department store offers novelty items and art pieces from various parts of Okinawa Prefecture that are beautiful and precious. You can surely find something that you’d love, so pick it up for a lasting memory of your trip to Okinawa.

 Continue on foot (Approx. 15 Min.)

Lunch at Shokudo Faidama (Approx. 60 Min.)

With a concept of “Delivering the scents of the islands to the streets of Naha,” Shokudo Faidama offers special dishes made with plenty of vegetables and other ingredients from the islands, served on genuine Okinawa Yachimun pottery tableware. The name of their establishment, Faidama, means “foodie” in the dialect of the Yaeyama Islands.

 Continue on foot (Approx. 5 Min.)

Select Shop GARB DOMINGO (Approx. 30 Min.)

A “select shop” in Japan refers to a store that offers a wide selection of items from various brands. GARB DOMINGO sells a range of products and high-quality creations by different artists. The merchandise includes pottery, lacquerware, Bingata dyes, textiles, glass, and many others. These items incorporate the traditional style and beauty, but at the same time, are designed to meet the modern lifestyles. The proprietors aim to create a shop that sells merchandise that connects with the climate, atmosphere, and unique characteristics of Okinawa. They want the shop to be a point of interchange where people dispersed around the world can find and collect bits and pieces of Okinawan culture. You could very well find a special item that would add a little spice to your everyday life.

 Continue on foot (Approx. 5 Min.)

Fukurasha (Approx. 30 Min.)

Fukurasha on the second floor of Sakurazaka Theater, a well-known independent theater in Naha City, is a shop selling a selection of arts, crafts and sundries that are both traditional and modern. The shop’s motto is “to continue our pursuit of items with Okinawan soul, and to bridge artisans and people.” Incidentally, the name of the shop comes from the lyrics of Kagiyade-Fu, a classical music piece of Okinawa, from the line, “Chu-nu Fukurasha (meaning “today’s pride”). True to its name, Fukurasha proudly offers items born from the unique culture of Okinawa, such as Tsuboya Yaki pottery pieces, a wide selection of textiles made with distinctive dyeing and weaving techniques, and hand-blown glass pieces.

 Continue on foot (Approx. 10 Min.)

Uchina Chaya Buku Buku Teahouse

The teahouse is located along the charming, stone-paved road called Yachimun Street in Tsuboya, an area where numerous shops offering beautiful Okinawan pottery aka Yachimun line the street. The teahouse serves Buku Buku Cha, a tea unique to Okinawa and introduced during the period of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Okinawan people enjoyed Buku Buku Cha in special celebratory occasions. Its distinctive feature is the highly aromatic foam placed on top of the tea. The teahouse is also known for their Zenzai, a sweet bean dessert, that brings out the best of the local Okinawan ingredients, all served from carefully selected Yachimun pottery tableware. In the gallery next to the teahouse, Yachimun pottery, Ryukyu Glass, Bingata dyes and various other merchandise are for sale.

 Continue on foot (Approx. 10 Min.)

Gallery-shop RENEMIA

Gallery-shop RENEMIA stands in a quiet area facing the lush greenery of Makishi Park offering a variety of arts and crafts. The husband-and-wife owners are local Okinawans and an artistic power couple who work as a designer and an illustrator. They treasure the feelings they share with producers, creators, and makers of the arts and crafts. The shop offers merchandise from pieces they co-worked designing and developing to a selection of works by artists based in Okinawa. The shop also holds art shows and themed exhibits.

A Delicious Excursion to the Back Alleys (Approximately 7 Hours)

A Stroll and Lunch in the Makishi Public Market (Approx. 90 Min.)

The locals have cherished the Makishi Public Market over six decades as “the Kitchen of Okinawa,” as it sells foods from around Okinawa Prefecture. The market is the spot to experience the food culture of Okinawa. Presently, the Market has moved to a temporary location while the original location is undergoing a reconstruction began in the summer of 2019. But even at its new location, the familiar liveliness of the market still remains. You can browse around and feel the energy of the market on the first floor where shops offer fresh seafood, meats, produce, pickled goods, and processed ingredients. Customers can purchase fresh food items from the stalls and take them to the second floor, where the staff can cook your lunch using your purchases.

 Continue on foot (Approx. 5 Min.)

Excursion Along Ukishima Street (Approx. 60 Min.)

Along the narrow Ukishima Street near the Public Market are shops offering a wide selection of merchandise, books, as well as numerous cafes and restaurants. Step in and browse in the shops that appeal to you, and enjoy your time looking for something that catches your eye.

 Travel on Foot

Senbero on Heiwa Street (Approx. 60 Min.)

Entering the Heiwa Street shopping arcade from the north-side from Ukishima Street, you find shops that have been in business for many years, offering souvenirs, clothing, accessories and more. Most of the eating and drinking establishments in the maze-like area offer Senbero. It means casual style bar hopping as just ¥1,000 gets you drinks and an appetizer or two. Stop by for a couple of Senbero and enjoy some food and drinks as you stroll around the arcade.

 Continue on foot (Approx. 5 Min.)

Kokusai Street Yatai-Mura (Approx. 60 Min.)

This is a great spot to enjoy delicious local food prepared with ingredients and original recipes from the smaller islands of Okinawa. The Yatai-Mura has 21 “yatai” or food stalls to welcome customers. Savor the delicious dishes and tasty drinks while you enjoy the local live music, dance and other entertainment on a small stage.

 Travel by Taxi (Approx. 30 Min.)

Senagajima Umikaji Terrace (Approx. 60 Min.)

Over 40 shops stand on the terraces of Senaga Island commanding a spectacular view of the ocean and Kerama Islands. The shops serve delicious gourmet dishes and various types of sweets with fruits, vegetables and other ingredients that are uniquely Okinawan. Umikaji Terrace is a wonderful place to take in the fantastic view as you indulge in the wide array of foods and enjoy shopping. Ryukyu Onsen Senagajima Hotel is located on the top of the hill over the Senagajima Umikaji Terrace, featuring a spa with natural hot spring. The facility is open for the general public, not just the guests of the hotel. You can take a time out to enjoy a bath in the waters of the hot spring and relax while you visit there.

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