With its energetic artisan districts, lively restaurant quarters and attractive coastline, laid-back Naha is one of Japan’s attractive capital cities.
Year-round good weather, unique Okinawan culture and stunning scenery are popular reasons to spend time in Okinawa’s biggest city. Tour the restaurants and eat delicious fresh fish and local pork dishes. Explore the glassblowing and ceramics districts to learn about the island’s artistic heritage.
A great place to start is the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum in the northern part of Naha. Concealed within a huge limestone castle, the museum documents the island’s past from prehistoric times to modern days. View fossils, ancient skeletons and interactive exhibits about the 500-year history of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Nearby find a smaller art gallery, which features abstract and contemporary works from some of the island’s most talented artists.
Take a short ride south on the monorail to the famous Tsuboya District. This area has been home to the city’s pottery production since the end of the 17th century. Browse the shops and purchase a ceramic shisa. This mythological animal, a cross between a lion and a dog, is believed to provide protection from evil. Visit the Pottery Museum where displays show exquisite glazed and unglazed pieces along with old pottery wheels and tools.
Enjoy a break from the city center at Shikinaen. Here stroll through a sub-tropical garden and have great views of the city. Admire the Ryukyu villa and hexagonal Chinese pavilion that overlook a serene pond.
Lively Kokusai Dori is one of the best places to go when you get hungry. Try the local specialty of pig’s ears or choose from a tantalizing selection of sushi dishes. Many of the restaurants and bars along this 1.5-mile (2-kilometer) road hold regular cultural shows. Stay for a while and you may find yourself taking part in a traditional Okinawan dance.
Naha is located close to the southeastern coast of Okinawa. The most popular method of transportation here is the modern and efficient monorail, though buses are also available. Find accommodations in numerous hotels as well as self-catering apartments across the city.