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someotherguy Dec 29th, 2009 09:15 AM

Seeking Okinawa advice
I have a few days in Okinawa coming up.

I plan to spend one day around Naha (Shuri castle etc.); on a second
day I'll take the bus a few miles north to visit Nakagusuku Castle and
the Nakamurake residence.

My question is what to do on the third day: go south to the Peace
Park, Suicide Cliffs, and Navy HQ, or rent a car and drive all the way
north to Cape Misaki? The first offers morbid history, the second has
scenery--but I don't know how good it is. Can anyone offer first hand
experience of either of these options, or a new idea?

If I go south, the travel options seem to be to join a tour, or take a
succession of buses, or rent a car. Can anyone offer advice on these?

someotherguy Jan 3rd, 2010 03:46 AM

Bringing this back to the top in the hope of some good advice.

Happy New Year to everyone.

kotoanne Jan 3rd, 2010 06:25 AM

I've been pretty much all over the island. The Peace Park and Museum are awesome--I've never been to anyplace more moving or filled with hope. The Navy HQ--not so interesting (to me). Suicide Cliffs--not so depressing, and if you go to the Himeyuri Peace Museum, you may get to meet one of the survivors (although they're getting to be pretty old now!) Cape Misaki is kind of isolated, but there's a beautiful beach south of there--can't remember the name right now (it's been a few years). It's near Ocean Expo. There's also an Okinawan village tourist place--Ryukyu Village--up north(there's one in the south, too--Okinawa World; I think it's in the same place as Gyokusendo??). I've always gone around the island with Okinawan friends, so I can't comment on means of transport, but a car would give you freedom. If you go up north, you'll go by all the bases and get a sense of the impact of the US Military on the people. If it was me, I'd go south--there are a lot of things to see in a relatively small area, it's educational and the scenery is great. And again--the Peace Museum is stunningly moving and educational. I didn't find it at all depressing and I learned a lot.

emd3 Jan 4th, 2010 01:43 AM

calling mrwunrfl....

someotherguy Jan 11th, 2010 06:15 AM

Many thanks for your helpful reply, kotoanne. Based on your
information I've decided that instead of doing day trips from Naha, I
should rent a car and do a one or two day circle trip and take in all
these sights.

So I'm now thinking of a couple of days in Naha, then picking up a car
at the airport, visiting the Navy HQ (which is nearby), then going
around the southern part of the island to Himeyuri etc, then heading
north to Nakagusuku etc, then on to Cape Misaki, and finally back to

I'll need to make one two overnight stops and I wonder if anyone has
specific suggestions for places or hotels? Nago looks like a possibility.

kotoanne Jan 11th, 2010 04:23 PM

I don't know anything about hotels in the Nago area-I stayed at my friend's mom's house! There surely are some, though, as there are plenty of tourist things up there. If you have a chance, go to the makishi market in Naha as well as the area that has traditional pottery. I could find it, but I can't remember the name-sorry! I really love Okinawan culture and hope you find the people there as warm and friendly as I have.

someotherguy Feb 5th, 2010 08:41 AM

Well, I'm back and can report that following a day in Naha, I rented a car and did a circuit of the island. Thanks to kotoanne for prompting this revision to my original plan.

The castle in Naha (Shuri-jo) is not particularly interesting--the main building is a 1994 reconstruction, and is currently under repair and covered in tarps. The walls and grounds are a pleasant park, though.

The war sites in the south of the island are educational. Himeyuri (which commemorates the high school kids who were press ganged as nurses and then abandoned) is a site of major pilgrimage and school bus tours. The presentation in the museum is long on their sacrifice, but short on the forces that impelled them.

This article has the ring of truth to me:

Nakagusuku Castle is an attractive ruin. The nearby Nakamurake residence is worth a brief visit, but looks Japanese (rather than Ryukyu) to my uneducated eye.

I stopped overnight in Nago. The unexpected highlight of my tour was Nakijin castle just north of there. This is a massive and attractive ruin overlooking the sea, but the big surprise was that the cherry blossom was in full force (in January!). There were quite a few Japanese bus tours here. I don't know if it's just a popular place, or word of sakura had got out.

Hedo Misaki, the cape at the north end of the island, is very scenic and definitely worth visiting if you are nearby.

Overall, this was a pleasant tour and I'd recommend it if you happen to be in Okinawa anyway (as I was), but I wouldn't make a special trip.

kotoanne Feb 5th, 2010 04:42 PM

Oh--Nakagusuku and Nakijin! You really got to places not on the usual tourist track. I would never have thought to recommend those places as I thought I was the only one who appreciated places like that. If there are Himeyuri survivors hanging around the museum, you get more of "the rest of the story," but you found a good JapanTimes article that fills in the story.

Sakura--you're lucky! I'm in the middle of a mini-snowstorm right now (the Midwest, not the east coast end of it) and would take a cherry or plum blossom or two....

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