Download GPX file for this article
26.212222127.679167Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Naha (那覇) is the capital of the Okinawa Prefecture in Japan and is the main city on Okinawa Island. It has a population of around 317,000 (2019), which is about a quarter of the total population of the island.



The first castle at Shuri (首里) was built in the 1200s. When king Shō Hashi unified the island and founded the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1429, he made Shuri his capital, a role it retained for almost 450 years. Naha was originally a trade port a short distance to the west of Shuri, only becoming the official capital in 1872 when the Kingdom was abolished.

Alas, it's difficult to see any traces of this lengthy history, since both Naha and Shuri were largely destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Today's Naha is an unappealing congested concrete sprawl that by and large looks like any other Japanese provincial city, only with worse traffic and more palm trees sprinkled in, and the few historical sites like Shuri Castle are reconstructions.

Tourist offices

  • 1 Naha City Tourist Information Center (那覇市観光案内所, Naha-shi kankōannaijo) (at the central Kokusai Dōri street, 100 m up the road from Starbucks coffee). It has staff fluent in English. Free Wi-Fi available.

Tourist information site


The local tourist association has a multilingual guide site, NahaNavi.

Get in

Map of Naha

By plane


1 Naha Airport (那覇空港 Naha-kūkō, OKA  IATA). The largest airport in the Okinawa area and the main hub for international and inter-island flights. A monorail connects the airport to the city center. Don't confuse it with the Naha Airport (NAH IATA) in Indonesia. Naha Airport (Q1197455) on Wikidata Naha Airport on Wikipedia

Okinawa being a car-centric island, many people rent cars at Naha Airport, but the rental offices are all off-site: you'll be directed into shuttle buses that trundle their way through the jams of suburban Naha, which can easily take half an hour one way. On the way back, allow plenty of time for dropping off your car as well.

If you have time to kill at the airport, there are half a dozen only mildly overpriced restaurants landside on the 4th floor. After you've gone through security, it's very slim pickings indeed even on the much larger domestic side.

By ship


Ferry services to Okinawa have been cut drastically, with Arimura Sangyo filing for bankruptcy and RKK Line stopping passenger services entirely. With long travel times, bumpy seas, frequent cancellations in the fall typhoon season and prices similar to flying, it's easy to see why this isn't too popular anymore.

As of 2014, the only survivors are A-Line Ferry, aka Maru-A (マルエー), which runs twice a week from Kagoshima (25 hours, ¥16,000 2nd class one-way) and once a week from both Osaka/Kobe and Tokyo (44 hours, ¥28,000) to Naha, and Marix Line, which runs between Kagoshima and Naha only. All ferries call at various minor islands including Yoron and Amami Oshima along the way. If you don't speak Japanese, you will find it easier to book through a travel agent.

Get around


The Yui-rail (aka Okinawa City Monorail) (monorail website in Japanese only) links the airport, the city and Shuri Castle. Tickets cost ¥230-370 depending on distance, or you can get a 24 hour pass for ¥800. You can also get a 48 hour pass for ¥1,400 (2024). There are also many buses that travel throughout the city to every area.


Shikinaen Garden
  • 1 Shuri Castle (首里城; Shuri-jō) (monorail Shuri Station). Shuri Castle has partially re-opened after most of the structures were destroyed by a fire on the morning of 31 October 2019. This World Heritage Site is the former seat of the Ryukyu Kingdom, built in the Okinawan gusuku style. Completely destroyed during World War II, the buildings were rebuilt in 1958 and 1992. No original Ryukyuan castles remain and this is the only site where the castle keep has been rebuilt, so it's an important part of preserving Okinawan history and culture. The site is wrapped in scaffolding, but authorities are hoping to reopen at least the exterior of the main building by 2025. See also Japanese castles. Shuri Castle (Q907052) on Wikidata Shuri Castle on Wikipedia
  • 2 Sonohyan-Utaki (園比屋武御嶽). Although it is in Shuri Castle Park, this sacred grove of trees and plants (utaki) is independently famous as one of Okinawa's World Heritage listings. Situated near the Shureimon Gate, it's not very big or grand so it's quite easy to miss. The Sonohyan Utaki is a place where the Ryukyu kings and queens once came to pray. Free.
  • 3 Tamaudun Mausoleum (玉陵). A Ryukyuan mausoleum that entombs kings of the Second Sho Dynasty. It was built in 1501. The impressive stone structure is separated into three sections. The central section is where the bodies are brought in and rituals were performed to prepare them to be entombed. The remains of kings and queens were then taken to the chamber on the left. Other members of the royal family were placed in the chamber on the right. The tomb suffered damage during World War II and had to be repaired. There is a small museum at the entrance where you can see pictures, artifacts, and the layout inside the tomb. Today the mausoleum is listed as one of Okinawa's World Heritage Sites. ¥300.
  • 4 Naha City Museum of History (那覇市歴史博物館), +81 98-869-5266. 10:00-19:00. A museum housing artifacts from the city. As the former capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom, it houses artifacts and belongings of former rulers and important documents outlining relations with foreign nations. They also have special exhibits. ¥350.
  • 5 Tsuboya Pottery Museum (那覇市立壺屋焼物博物館), +81 98-862-3761. Naha's Tsuboya District has been reknowned for its pottery for hundreds of years and there are many craftsman still there. The museum showcases historic and exemplary specimens of the pottery. ¥350.
  • 6 Shikinaen Garden (識名園), +81 98-855-5936. Apr-Sep: 09:00-18:00, Oct-Mar: 09:00-17:30. Like many of the mainland gardens, Shikinaen was built by Okinawa's royal family as a detached residence and to entertain guests. The original garden was almost completely destroyed in World War II, but it was rebuilt in the 1950s. It centers around a pond with beautiful bridges connecting an island to opposite sides in the center. ¥400.
  • 7 Naminoue Shrine (波上宮). It once served as the main shrine of the Ryukyuan Kingdom. Sitting on a cliff overlooking the sea, the view of the shrine, cliff and water is quite picturesque.
  • Naha Tug-of-war (那覇大綱挽), Oonoyama Sports Park. October. Naha hosts a rope pulling event. Two 100-metre long ropes are laid down in the street. The ropes represents opposing armies or rival kingdoms in a battle between East and West. It is preceded by a parade, karate demonstrations, drums, and firecrackers. People dress like Ryukyu kings with naginata swords. Each team tries to pull the rope their way for 30 minutes, or until the rope is moved by a defined distance. Naha Tug-of-war (Q11642807) on Wikidata Naha Tug-of-war on Wikipedia


  • Kiteboarding is possible year round with the winter months being the best.
    • 1 Kite Club Okinawa, 270-102 Gibo, Tomigusuku-shi (Across from the Tomigusuku Central Hospital Family Mart), +81 98-851-0180, +81 90-6779-9990 (mobile). W-M 10:00-20:00. Call before coming (Japanese only). Taka-san is a first rate kite-boarder and a very nice guy. Drop by for lessons, supplies, information about car rental, lodging, tours, and such.
  • Scuba Diving. A number of diving businesses offer training courses and diving excursions to the nearby Kerama Islands.
    • 2 Blue Zone, +81 120-48-1415. A diving shop with their own boat. Their very friendly staff offer scuba diving courses and diving trips to the Kerama Islands. Boat trip with two dives ¥11,800; gear rental ¥3,000; extra dive ¥5,000.
  • 3 Naminoue Beach (波の上ビーチ nami no ue bi-chi) (straight towards the ocean from the southern end of kokusai dōri). Naha has one beach, Naminoue. Not the most beautiful beach in Okinawa, but a clean beach for all practical purposes. Also, one has to keep in mind that the swimming area can be very limited depending on the season and the weather.


  • 1 Makishi Market (牧志). Known as "the kitchen of Okinawa", This market started as a kind of black market after World War II. There are more than 400 shops in one floor. You can buy any traditional Okinawan foods, like dried sea snake (イラブー irabū), pork (Okinawans say they eat everything except the hooves and the scream), special vegetables not found on the mainland, colorful fish, or edible seaweed. There are many restaurants upstairs, serving traditional Okinawan home cooking. You can bring your own ingredients (fresh seafood or pork for example) bought downstairs and they will cook it for you for a small fee.
  • 2 Kokusai Doori (国際通り). Full of shops that sell a multitude of Okinawan products. It's also a good place to check out the nightlife and youth scene.


  • 1 Afro Nest (アフロネスト) (Just off of Kokusai Doori). A reggae themed basement-restaurant with surprisingly good food. Delicious goya champuru and fried chicken. Try the Afro Rice and Jamaican Jerk Chicken, they're excellent. The staff and customers here are fun to talk to and the menu is a laugh.
  • 2 Takuyoshi (たくよし), 3-2-22 Maejima (Along national road 58 near the ferry terminal), +81 98-860-8948. 17:00-22:00, last order 21:00. What makes this Shabu-Shabu place special is it's selection of local Okinawan produce and Agu pork, which more than justifies the price. No English menu available, but the staff tries to help with translating as best as they can. Around 5000¥.


Shuri Castle in 2016, before it burned down

You can find several establishments in and around Kokusai Street to enjoy the odd drink or two. There's a few clubs about as well; those frequented by locals, those frequented by US military folks and a mixture of both. Don't try gaining admission (around ¥2,500) wearing sandals.

For the more daring drinker habushu (ハブ酒) is widely available in bars and souvenir shops. Each bottle of fiery shochu liquor comes with a venomous snake inside, best drunk down in one as sipping is not recommended!

  • 1 Bar Dick. For a less frantic, more intimate time, you could do worse than check out this American-style bar that's verging on refined. Take care not to be too noisy as it will only upset the otherwise friendly and attentive staff. Bar Dick is the premier whiskey and scotch bar on the island, with expert bartenders, some of whom have been featured in magazines and received awards at national level competitions.
  • 2 Smugglers Irish Pub, 1 block from Kokusai Street. Really nice place to drink. The staff speaks English. One bloke lived in London for 5 years. Lots of friendly locals. Food is good and they had Union Rugby on the TV. Just walk up the hill from Ryubo Shopping Centre on Kokusai Street. It is on the left side.
  • 3 Football Cafe Campnou, Paradise Dori, behind JAL Hotel on Kokusai Dori. Great place to watch football. The owner, Hiro-san is a lovely guy and football mad. He can speak enough English to get by and is foreigner friendly. He is often open odd hours to accommodate matches held in different time zones.
  • 4 Craft Beer House Baku (クラフトビアハウス麦) (just off Kokusai-dori, around the corner from Afro-nest, on the 2nd floor). A friendly, homely bar with great staff and a good crowd. The selection of beers is nice and the food is delicious. Try Haruka's Raftee! It also has Strongbow, for people trying to find some cider.
  • 5 The DOJO bar, Asato 101, Naha City (on Sogenji-dori 1 block east from Shureido karate store, 5 min walk from Kokusai-dori; closest station is Makishi), +81 989113601. Okinawa's only karate and kobudo theme bar, The DOJO opened in 2011 and is owned and run by James, a local resident and long-time karate fan! The DOJO features draft beers, cocktails and a delicious food menu. The English and Japanese speaking staff are knowledgeable about all aspects of activities and places on the island including local dojos to for karate and kobudo training.
  • 6 Utahime (歌姫). Live minyo (民謡, traditional folk song) performances in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Can sit at the bar or on sofas. If you are familiar with any minyo songs, they take requests.



Naha's budget accommodation is famously cheap, but you tend to get what you pay for and some can be incredibly dirty.

  • 1 Chanpuru, 3-6-3 Makishi, Naha. Check-in: 15:00-24:00, check-out: 11:00. Women ¥1500, men ¥1800. There's free internet and a 24-hour shop nearby. ¥1,500-1,800.
  • 2 Base Okinawa, 1-17-5 Wakasa (15-20 minute walk from the Kencho-mae monorail station), +81 868-2968. Check-in: 16:00-22:00, check-out: 11:00. Ten dorm rooms and a couple of lounge rooms make this a really nice place to stay when on a budget. There is also free Internet, laundry, bikes, etc. If you want to get there, walk up the street from the Kencho-mae monorail station towards Wakasa. After passing Wakasa-dori, turn left at the first crossing without a traffic light (there's a very small sign there that says "BASE"). ¥1,000.
  • 3 Hotel Marine West Naha, 1-8-15 Kumoji, Naha (Near the Asahibashi monorail station), +81 98-863-0055. Check-out: 11:00. A business hotel that is suitable for divers. It has drying space for scuba diving gear and free parking. There is free internet. Room prices include Japanese breakfast. Staff are friendly, though they only speak Japanese. One night plus breakfast ¥3,500; washing machine ¥200; drier ¥200.





Go next

  • Southern Okinawa - Many WW2 historical sites
  • Central Okinawa - US military bases, pottery villages, castle ruins
  • Northern Okinawa - The wildest and remotest part of Okinawa Island
  • Kerama Islands - Regular ferry connections are available between Naha harbor and this nearby group of islands. Great for a day trip or a few days to experience a more isolated tropical experience.
  • Akajima - the smallest of the Kerama Islands and makes a great snorkeling day trip.
  • Zamami - famous for whale watching and sea turtles.
Routes through Naha
KyodaOkinawa Minami  N  S  END
NagoOnnnaKadena  N  S  END
OkinawaNakagusukuYonabaru  N  S  END
OkinawaGinowanUrasoe  N  S  END
END  N  S  TomigusukuItomanNanjo
END  N  S  HaebaruYaeseItoman

This city travel guide to Naha is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.