1. Explore the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom at Shuri Castle Park
Located 20 minutes away from the Shuri monorail station on foot is Shuri Castle Park, a registered World Heritage Site. This was the court of the Ryukyu dynasty, which ruled over what is now Okinawa for 450 years. Pass through the Shurei Gate, a famous photo spot and head to higher ground to arrive at the impressive vermilion-lacquered main building.
For an admission fee, you can go inside for up to 60 minutes to see the king’s throne and queen’s chambers, as well as art objects and other items, as you experience the history of the Ryukyu dynasty era.
2. International Street, a busy shopping venue
Naha’s International Street was known post-WW II as the miracle mile for its almost-instantaneous reconstruction. With rows of souvenirs and restaurants, it is a staple sightseeing spot for visitors to Okinawa.
Popular spots to visit include the central Makishi Public Market, dining establishments and the Don Quijote, Japan’s largest discount store. If you’re going for a stroll at night, there are izakaya where you can listen to performances of traditional Okinawa folk music and shamisen players.
3. Okinawa nature, history and culture at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum
The Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum, designed to look like Okinawan castle ruins, is located in the part of Naha known as Naha Shintoshin. Here you can view exhibits on Okinawa’s subtropical nature, its culture and history during the Ryukyu dynasty, as well as when it was under control by the United States. In addition, you can also learn about Okinawan folklore and archaeology.
At the art museum, there are primarily displays of artwork relating to Okinawa from artists inside and outside the prefecture. The exhibits change seasonally, and you can also view old Japanese-style kominka homes and art pieces outdoors.
4. Food and drink at Makishi Central Market
Enter the main market street off the central part of International Street, you will arrive at the Makishi Central Market. The first floor sells fresh fish and meat, with colorful fish and unusual seafood, pigs’ feet, and other products. The second floor has rows of restaurants serving Okinawan cuisine and seafood. The area’s retro vibe makes pleasant to stroll through back streets, and the standing bars and izakaya allow you to enjoy get a glimpse of daily life in Okinawa.
5. Experience traditional Okinawan Art with tie-dye
At traditional Okinawan dyed cloth workshops and some tourist establishments, you can try your hand at tie-dye. Choosing a pattern and dyeing cloth is a popular activity, and you can bring home your finished product. At Shuri Ryusen in Shuri, you can try your hand at original sango-style dyeing, an activity taking about 40 minutes.
Shuri Ryusen has a workshop allow you to observe the dying process and also see displays of antiques like lacquerware and ceramics related to the Ryukyu dynasty.
6. The local shopping center, San-A Naha Main Place
At San-A Naha Main Place, a major shopping center frequented by local residents, you can check out major electronics retailers and Tokyu Hands. It is also convenient for buying foodstuffs in bulk. On the first floor, there is an Okinawa souvenir corner that is notable for its snack variety.
Ingredients for the Okinawan dish taco rice, instant soba, Okinawan seasonings and other items used by the local community of Naha can be purchased here. It is thrilling to walk through the spacious supermarket.