Naha city [那覇]
Entrance of Kokusai Street in Naha
Naha is the prefectural capital of Okinawa Prefecture, and is located in the southwest part of Okinawa Island.
It is the cultural, political and economic center in Okinawa Prefecture.
There is Naha Airport near the western coast of the city.
It has the many flights connecting many cities in mainland of Japan, several islands in Okinawa Prefecture, and some Asian cities.
Naha Port is also important and is just on the west side of the central area of the city.
The ferries from Kagoshima and a few cities in the mainland of Japan come to Naha Pier.
And the ferries from several islands in Okinawa Prefecture come to Tomari Pier about 2 km north of Naha Pier.
The central area of Naha city was the port town of Shuri Castle (首里城) located to the east in the period of Ryukyu Kingdom.
View of Naha city from Shuri Castle
Kokusai Street in the evening
At that time, this area was a bay with small islands, but it had been connected to the main island by deposition of earth and sand in the 19th century.
During the World War II, the city had been destroyed completely, and the most area was prohibited from entering by US military forces.
After that, Tsuboya district which has been the traditional pottery manufacturing area was opened first.
Then, many residents gathered around current Kokusai Street near Tsuboya district.
Since that, the area has developed as the downtown of Naha.
Okinawa Prefecture has no railway and subway.
In Naha, a monorail runs from Naha Airport through central area of the city.
Route bus is the main public transportation.
Many buses are operated in the city frequently.
Yatai-mura (Village of food stalls)
by Kokusai Street
Kokusai Street (国際通り, "Kokusai-dôri" in Japanese) is the main street in Naha.
The length of the street is about 1.6 km.
The city was destroyed completely in the World War II, but the area around this street had developed amazingly after that, so it is often called "Miracle Mile".
There are many shops, restaurants and hotels for tourists along the street.
Many route buses run through this street.
In addition, this street is not so wide, there are a lot of traffic.
Many side streets of Kokusai Street are also attractive.
There are many shops and restaurants for local people.
An old kiln in Tsuboya district
Tsuboya (壺屋) is a calm district near the east end of Kokusai Street.
In 1682, the king of Ryûkyû gathered many potters in this district, and promoted pottery industry.
Since that, the products had been popular as Tsuboya pottery.
Tsuboya pottery had sometimed been faced with crises such as inflow of cheap foreign pottery and pollution problem, but many potters are still continuing the traditional works.
Pottery is called Yachimun in Okinawan word.
Yachimun Street which is the central street in Tsuboya district, and there are many potteries and kilns along the street.
Entrance of Naminoue Shrine
Worship hall of Naminoue Shrine
Naminoue Shrine (波上宮, "Naminoue-gû" in Japanese) is the shrine of Ryûkyû Shinto similar to Japanese Shinto.
It is located on a small hill by the sea and about 1 km north of Naha Port.
It is unknown when this shrine had been founded.
Long ago, when a man did fishing at a beach, he found a lighting and speaking stone there.
Whenever he worshiped the stone, he could catch many fish.
One day, someone was going to steal it.
So, he run away with the stone, and came to this hill.
The stone told him.
I'm a god of Kumano.
Build a shrine for me, and I'll guard this country.
He submited the report to the Ryûkyû king, then the king established this shrine.
"Kumano" is the area of the ancient mountain worship in Japan. (See the page of Kumano-kodo.)
So Ryukyu Shinto has much in common with Japanese Shinto.
This shrine was destroyed by the ground battle in 1945.
The main shrine was rebuilt in 1953, the worship hall was rebuilt in 1961.
The whole shrine was restored in 1993.
Naminoue Shrine from the sea
Naminoue Beach is a sand beach by Naminoue Shrine.
It is the only public beach in Naha city.
Although it is near the central Naha city and an elevated road runs over the beach, the water is clear.
How to get here
By monorail (Yui-Rail), from Naha Airport, the nearest stations of the monorail (Yui-Rail) are Asahibashi (Naminoue Shrine, 10 min), Kencho-mae (Kokusai Street, 13 min), Makishi (Kokusai Street and Tsuboya, 16 min).