It’s a small island, but it packs a big punch and was completely different than we expected – Hai Sai, Okinawa! I’ll admit that prior to touching down on our ANA flight from Tokyo (which as a sidenote was ah-maz-ing!), I figured Okinawa must be just like mainland Japan with a more chillaxed laid-back island feel. However, after visiting I feel like that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. True, Okinawa and mainland are both Japan, but the “feel” at each place is completely different. Different customs, different foods, different vibe… I’m thrilled we have been fortunate to experience both!

Going into this trip we were lucky as we have several friends who either currently call the island home, or did recently. A little local insight into a new place is a huge help in helping to plan a trip. Although Dom and I prefer slow travel, when you only have 4.5ish – days you have to hit the ground jogging (especially when you are trying to squeeze in a marathon, too!).

[ D A Y • 1 ] Tokyo → Naha, Okinawa: Kokusai Dori, Ball Donut Park, Yatai-Mura, Heiwa Dori, Makishi Public Market, Hacksaw Ridge

We arrived at Haneda International completed the check-in process, flew through security (we waited less than 1 – minute as there were 8 lines open!), picked up the cutest plane shaped bento box you have ever seen (complete with a sticker activity) right outside the gate and then it was up, up and away we go!! It was our first domestic flight in Japan and to say the least, we were impressed! We’ve flown a good bit as a family of four, but it never ceases to amaze me how on point things in Japan are. Great service, and little in-flight activities for the kids to boot! Would 100% fly ANA again.

We landed in Naha just a few hours later (hooray for direct flights!) and picked up the rental car (if you plan on visiting Okinawa you will absolutely need a car as there is very little public transport). Everyone was a bit hungry, so our first stop was Kokusai Dori (“International Road”). This ~1.6km stretch is mainly a shopping street, but there are a good number of eateries, too. Way back in the day many referred to it as “Miracle Mile” because of its ability to spring back after WWII. I had read about this adorable little donut shop and so we ventured off the main drag for a little bite, and Ball Donut Park didn’t disappoint.

Perhaps this stop made us realize that we actually hungrier than we originally thought, so we beelined it for Yatai-Mura, a nearby little food village with dozens of options to choose from. We tried Ishigaki Beef, Roasted Agu Pork and Gyoza Agu Pork. Small portions, but great quality. One of the little things we try to do as we travel is order small amounts of food at various places, so we can try a variety of things. Essentially creating our own little food tour!

We took a short walk down Heiwa Dori, a covered shopping arcade that runs perpendicular to Kokusai Dori, after before zeroing in on our final food stop – Makishi Public Market. This place was really neat and your food is guaranteed to be fresh. We walked in on the ground floor and into the lively market. Colorful fish, giant lobsters, and the biggest oysters, shrimp, and snails I have ever seen filled the tanks or were displayed on ice.  The best part? You can stroll around and pick something that looks interesting to chow down on, and the seller will then write-up a receipt for whatever you choose and then end the transaction by asking how you want it prepared: BBQ? Sashimi? Half and half? They will prepare it however you like. We picked a beautiful Okinawa Ruby Snapper along with some huge shrimp and oysters.

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Your seafood will then be taken up to the second floor to the restaurant area where it is prepared for a fee (we paid 1,000yen cooking fee for half the snapper to be cut into sashimi, the other half BBQed along with the shrimp and oysters). Overall it was a really fun experience, and SO oishi (delish), but maybe a bit on the pricey side.

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Bellies full, we loaded up into the car and drove to Hacksaw Ridge, a somber spot where Pfc. Desmond Doss, a consciousness objector to WWII who refused to carry a weapon, saved 75 men during one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific theatre. He went on to receive the Medal of Honor, and it was a surreal experience to stand on the very ridge where the war raged not that long ago. We enjoyed a breathtaking sunset from this spot before heading back to Solvita Hotel to check-in and get some sleep (more info about the hotel below).

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Ball Donut Park:

  • Hours: 1200 – 2000
  • Admission:
    • “Fantastic Ball” (6 balls/640yen):
      • Flavor options: Choco banana, honey & cinnamon, shiratama kinako, apple cinnamon, tropical, taco ball
    • “Simple Ball” (8 balls/420yen or 16 balls/770yen):
      • Lemon & sugar, Salt & butter, Choco Ball, Milky Ball, Honey & cream cheese, Carmel & salt
    • Vanilla ice-cream can also be added as a topping for 100yen if you need a bit of extra sweetness!

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Yatai-Mura:

  • Hours: Most stores open ~1000 and stay open til ~2300
    • The restaurant we stopped @closes right before midnight
  • Admission: Some stores accept credit card, but most only accept yen
    • The place we stopped at also accepted credit cards

Makishi Public Market:

  • Hours: 0800 – 2100 daily

Hacksaw Ridge:

  • Hours (museum hours): 0900 – 1700 (Closed on Mondays (except holidays) and December 28 – January 3)
  • Admission: Free. Entry to museum: 100yen/High School Student and above, 50yen/Middle School student and below

Amenities/Services at Hotel Solvita:

  • Parking: Additional charge of 1,000yen/day
  • Coin Laundry is available. Washing machine 200yen (detergent is included in the wash cycle). Dryer 100yen (30min).
  • Breakfast is available for an additional charge of 1000yen/ticket (purchase breakfast ticket at the front desk). Served 0700 – 0930. Includes: bread, rice, miso soup, coffee, juice, salad, cereal, milk, yogurt, etc..

[ D A Y • 2 ] Shuri Castle, Naha Marathon Expo, Chura Terrace, Kouri Island, Shrimp Truck, Heart Shaped Rock, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

The original plan was to visit Shuri Castle after Hacksaw Ridge the previous day, but it was proving that perhaps that game plan was going to be a tad too much for our crew considering we had also flown in that day as well. Had “day 1” been a full day I think we would have had plenty of time to visit Shuri Castle as well as it is in the same area as the rest of the sites we explored. With that being said, we had to stick around for the Naha Marathon Expo to open (yes, we timed our visit to Okinawa with another marathon!), so we opted to start “day 2”  at Shuri Castle, so that we would be near the expo when it opened! Shuri Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2000), is where the Ryuku royalty used to reside. It was rebuilt in ’92 after being destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa in ’45. It’s history, architecture, and its amazing views all make Shuri Castle a fantastic location and a “must” when visiting the island.

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From a keep-the-kids-moving perspective we felt like this stop nailed it. So what’s the secret? Pick up a “Stamp Rally Collecting Sheet,” as soon as you arrive and explain to your kiddo that their job it is to be an explorer! Find all the cool buildings and fantastic gates… AND collect all the stamps along the way to earn a small prize! More details below, but wow this worked like magic. Miles was so proud that he wore the stickers that he had earned all day long (heck he even wore the sheet of stickers Penny earned, too!). By the time we finished exploring Shuri Castle (it took a bit longer than we had anticipated), the marathon expo had officially opened and we needed to make our way over to packet pick-up. Marathoning (along with traveling, obviously) is my “happy place.” I’m always thrilled when I can pair the two and I love that my little tribe humors it. Where’s the next marathon, mom? Where to next?!

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Had we been able to follow our original plan and tackle Shuri Castle on “day 1” and didn’t have to make it to the Naha Marathon Expo within a certain window I would have loved to start this day with driving out to Kouri Island, but it wasn’t possible – c’est la vie! So midday we made the drive out towards Kourijima, a small picturesque island connected to Yagaji Island by the longest toll-free bridge in Japan (just shy of 2,000m long). Before driving across we made a quick pit stop at Chura Terrace for ice-cream sandwiched in between an Okinawa Doughnut. So sweet and (of course) to take in some killer views. I think at this point we were convinced there aren’t any “bad” views in Oki.

Haha, again, dessert before lunch! Oops!! Anyway, on Kouri Island (also known as “Love Island”) we made our way to the renowned Shrimp Wagon. Not too many choices here, so for all you indecisive people (*raises hand*) this restaurant is for you! Outdoor seating, small play area, some solid “Hawaiian vibes” accompanying some ridiculously good shrimp made this place a winner.

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After lunch we made the short drive over to Heart Shaped Rock, an area known by the Japanese for its positive energy in which two large pieces of coral rock protrude from the sea.  The area is also where the USS Emmons, a WWII destroyer was sunk in April ’45 by five kamikaze pilots. The ship sits just one nautical mile off the coast making it an interesting spot for diving enthusiasts. Beware that the path leading down to the sea is a little steep and loose, so you’ll need to leave any baby strollers in the car. However, the clear waters and another gorgeous beach certainly make the trip worth it. The kids were dying to go swimming, buuuttt December is a tad chilly for this momma, so we stuck to playing in the soft sand!

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After running around we took off for Ocean Park, which is home to Churaumi Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world. “Chura,” in the Okinawan language, Uchinaaguchi, translates to “beautiful“ and “Umi” to “sea” in Japanese… and after visiting we definitely agree that that’s an appropriate name for this spot. Lots of giants tanks filled with all sorts of fish, hundreds of various colonies of coral, manta rays, and the largest fish in the world, the whale shark! This was the kids’ favorite stop of the day and one of the top aquariums we have ever visited. Set aside a good bit of time to explore both the inner and outer parts of Ocean Park – great playground, indoor and outdoor exhibits and Emerald Beach is also in this area, too, if you’re hoping to catch a great Oki sunset!

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We headed back to Solvita Hotel in Naha around 1745 to prep for the marathon the next day! It was a great day of sightseeing around the island and although it’s a bit chilly to go swimming this time of year, the temperature was really nice, making it easy to see and do a lot without it being uncomfortable. Marathon #29 tomorrow!

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Shuri Castle:

  • Hours:
    • April – June (0830 – 1900) Last entry: 1830
    • July – September (0830 – 2000) Last entry: 1930
    • October – November Nov. (0830 – 1900) Last entry: 1830
    • December – March (0830 – 1800) Last entry: 1730
    • The Park is closed on the first Wednesday and Thursday of July, every year.
  • Admission:
    • There is a free area as well as a paid area
    • Paid Area: 820yen/Adult, 660yen/High School Student, 310yen/Elementary and Junior High School Student, children under 6yo are free
  • Parking: 320yen

Shuri Castle Tip: Make sure to pick up a “Stamp Rally Collecting Sheet” at one of the information centers before starting as it’s a great way to motivate your kids to keep moving as you explore. There are 25 stamps to collect in all (plus 2 commemorative stamps). When your kids are done collecting go to the Suimuikan Information Center to collect a prize (it’s pretty small, so don’t pump it up too much, but our kids enjoyed the stamp hunt)! We found the time requirements noted on the stamp sheet to be very accurate. Plan on ~30min to collect 10 stamps (this earns your kiddo a sheet of stickers) or ~90min to collect all the stamps.

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Chura Terrace: (Japanese only website)

  • Hours: 1100 – 1800 (1030 – 1800 during the summer)
  • Admission: Try the ice-cream sandwich which is an Okinawan Doughnut sliced in half with ice-cream in the middle (you choose the flavor). Cost 450yen/each.

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Shrimp Wagon:

  • Hours: Saturday – Sunday, 1100 – 1700
  • Admission (4 choices on the menu):
    • Original Garlic Shrimp Plate: 1080yen
    • Spicy Hot Garlic Shrimp Plate: 1296yen
    • Garlic Shrimp Plate (Butter & Lemon): 1404yen
    • Garlic Shrimp Plate Mix: 1512yen

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Heart Shaped Rock:

  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Admission: Free
  • Parking: 100yen

Heart Shaped Rock Tip: You’ll need to walk to beach from the parking lot. Make sure to wear/have on hand shoes with a decent grip as it can be slippery with the sand in spots.

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Churaumi Aquarium:

  • Hours:
    • October – February: 0830 – 1830 (last admission 1730)
    • March – September: 0830 – 2000 (last admission 1900)
  • Admission:
    • 0830 – 1600: 1850yen/Adult, 1230/High School Student, 610yen/Elementary & Junior High Student, children under 6yo are free
    • 1600 until last admission: 1290yen/Adult, 860/High School Student, 430yen/Elementary & Junior High Student, children under 6yo are free
  • Parking: Nine free lots

Churaumi Aquarium Tip: We arrived after 1600 and saved a bit of money on admission. If you keep your kiddos moving we think 1.5 – 2hours is a great amount of time (honestly we could have spent all-day as our kids love marine life, but there’s just too much to do in Oki to spend all of your time in just one spot. Note that the outside playground closes before the aquarium. We planned on doing the playground after the aquarium and when we arrived 20min before the aquarium closed it was already blocked off. We certainly had one sad little boy on our hands!

[ D A Y • 3 ] Naha Marathon, The Former Japanese Navy Underground, Headquarters, Peace Park, Himeyuri Monument, Mibaru Beach

Good Morning, Naha! 0900, it was “go time!” The start of the 34th Naha Marathon went off with a bang, and I set off to explore the city on an unexpectedly hilly course. Despite the marathon taking up a decent chunk of time, as the picture below shows, the kids have zero issues  lounging in the grass for a good bit relaxing, and Dom has plenty of practice holding down the fort while I log some miles. I continue to be extremely thankful for this crazy (+ supportive) crew that allows me to indulge in something (even when we travel) that brings me so much happiness!

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A few hours ticked by and marathon #29 was officially in the books, so we walked back to the hotel to shower before spending the afternoon adventuring (can’t waste a minute!). Post clean-up we resumed our sightseeing by heading to the former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters. Back in ’44, the Japanese Navy Corps of Engineers created a series tunnels as an underground headquarters during WWII.  When it became clear that the Battle of Okinawa was nearing an end (not as they had hoped), Admiral Ota, the commanding officer along with 175 of his staff committed suicide in these underground tunnels to avoid the shame of defeat.

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After the war, the tunnels were closed and remained that way until 1970 when they were restored and opened to the public. One of the most striking experiences is to read the message left behind by Admiral Ota just before he took his own life. The message (fully translated) outlines the sacrifice of the Okinawan people and requests that the Japanese Government give them “special consideration.” As we meandered through the 450 meters of tunnels we were able to view the place where he left this message. It was a indescribable feeling to find yourself in a room that was littered with hunderds of holes from the shrapnel of hand grenades where so many took their lives.

After leaving the tunnels, we continued on with our history lesson by heading to the Himeyuri Monument, a place where ~200 school girls and their teachers from two different high schools are remembered. These Okinawan children were recruited by the Japanese to serve as nurses taking care of the wounded, but were abandoned when U.S. troops drew near. They sought refuge in a natural cave and nearly every one of them was killed or committed suicide (as they were instructed to do) as the enemy drew closer. It’s a thought nearly impossible to imagine, but to make it that much more vivid, there was a group of school children visiting when we were there. Seeing them, in uniform, paying their respects to kids exactly like them who died was something I will never forget.

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Finally, we headed to our last history stop of the day, Peace Memorial Park on Mabuni Hill. The incredible view contrasted with the long rows of grey stone slabs, inscribed with 213,000 names of those who died in the war. Despite the sadness, we were also struck with a feeling of hope along the gorgeous, rugged coastline as children played with their dogs and flew kites in the sea breeze. It’s encouraging to see that with time, enemies can become friends, and hopefully the world can learn from its mistakes and become a better place for our children than it is for us.

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We rounded out the day at nearby Mibaru Beach. My understanding is that you really can’t go wrong with any of the beaches on the island, as they are all beautiful! The day was winding down, and the water was a bit cold to swim, so our main goal was to find something close to avoid wasting the last few hours of daylight. We parked for free, walked down a short series of steps, and the kids dashed into the sands the moment they saw the ocean before them. There wasn’t much of a sunset this particular day, but there is something about ending the day on the beach that is calming and good for the soul. We spent the remainder of the evening with some amazing friends  (thanks Jake & Joyce!) before rolling in for the day. Okinawa, you’re pretty great.

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The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters:

  • Hours: 0830 – 1700
  • Admission: 420yen/Adult and 210/yen/Elementary and Junior High Students, Children under elementary age are free
  • Parking: Free

The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters Tip: NOT stroller-friendly as there are 105steps down to reach the tunnels – babywearing is the way to go.

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Himeyuri Monument:

  • Hours:
    • Monument: 0900 – 1730
    • Museum: 0900 – 1700
  • Parking: Free in lot next to monument

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Peace Park:

  • Hours: 0900 – 1730 (last admission to the permanent exhibition 1700), closed December 29 – January 3
  • Admission: Free, Permanent Exhibition: 300yen/Adult, 150yen/Child, Children under elementary age are free, Free on memorial day (June 23)
  • Parking: Free

Mibaru Beach:

  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Admission: Free
  • Parking: Free

[ D A Y • 4 ] Cape Manzamo, Yanbaru Forest Toy Museum, Yanbaru National Park Daisekirinzan, Cape Hedo, Bise, Emerald Beach

For our last full day on the island, our plan was to head to the northern most point with a stop at Cape Manzamo along the way, thus an early start was a must! According to Sho Kei, the king of the Ryukyu Kingdom from 1713 – 1752, the cape was an area for “ten thousand to sit,” so it is no coincidence that the name “Manzamo”  in the local dialect translates to “ten-thousand- to sit-field.” The cliff is strikingly similar looking to the nose of an elephant and although this was a neat stop, it was swarming with tour groups even at 0845! We meandered quickly around the short path that takes you to some great viewing spots and then headed on our way. There is just something about being on a laidback island and being pushed around by other tourists that just isn’t that appealing. Although beautiful, we feel like there are much better sites to seek out and spend your time. From the Cape,  we continued making our way north along the beautiful coast making a stop at the Yanbaru Forest Toy Museum. Our kids heard, ” Do you want to … Toy Museum?” and boom (!!) they were sold!

Our stop at the Yanbaru Forest Toy Museum is most certainly credited to our friends as there is no way we would have ever come up with it on our own, but we loved it! Hats off to Jake & Joyce – fantastic rec! There is something incredibly special about the simplicity of wooden toys that is just so neat especially in this era of technology. Even though there is some innovation over the years many of the concepts remain the same – classic. Our kiddos especially loved being buried in the ball pit!

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From the wooden toy museum we headed to Yanbaru National Park Daisekirinzan for a bit of hiking. The geological features in the park were formed over 200 million years ago, and erosion since that time has created some amazing rock formations. One of the nicest things about this National Park is that the trails aren’t technical, so they can easily be completed by an active 3 – 4 year old child. Additionally, there are several trails available, so it’s easy to customize something to fit it into your travel plans (see map below).

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See that cape off in the distance? Yup, that’s the next stop, Cape Hedo, the northern most spot on the island and a great spot to take in some views of the Southern China Sea.

Post-Cape Hedo, we headed to Bise, a quiet little community by the ocean which is filled with small restaurants, beautiful little homes, and sandy paths under arching large Fukugi trees. It made for a great spot for the kids to run around (we incorporate a lot of that into our adventures!), and gave us an opportunity to catch dinner at Churaumi Café trying some more Okinawan specialties before heading to the Emerald Beach for sunset.

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Had we not taken up the morning of “day 2” with a visit to Shuri Castle and the Naha Marathon Expo we would have loved to see Bise and play at Emerald Beach after our visit to the Churaumi Aquarium due to the proximity of the sites, and would recommend that you do the same as it would be advantageous from a time management perspective.

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Cape Manzamo:

  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Admission: Free
  • Parking: Free

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Yanbaru Forest Toy Museum:

  • Hours: 1000 – 1600 (last admission 1530)
  • Admission: 400yen/Adult (junior high and up), 200yen/Children 3 – 12yo, Children under 3yo are free

Yanbaru National Park Daisekirinzan:

  • Hours: 0930 – 1630 (park closes @1730 year round)
  • Admission: 1200yen/Adult (15 – 64yo), 550yen/Child (4 – 14yo), Children under 4yo are free, 900yen/Senior (65yo and up). Cash only.
  • Parking: Free

park map oki

Yanbaru National Park Daisekirinzan Tip: Purchase tickets at the ticket booth and then wait to take the bus up to Energy Cabin (starting point). Bus runs ~every 5min from the ticketing center to the Energy Cabin, so your wait shouldn’t be very long at all. Restrooms and vending machines are available at the Cabin. Then take yellow and/or blue trails. Once done, take the green trail or bus from the Energy Cabin back to the start. If you’re a bit short on time there is a dotted yellow line that essentially halves the yellow hike in half (see map above).

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Cape Hedo:

  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Admission: Free
  • Parking: Free

Bise-fukugi Tree Road:

  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Admission: Free
  • Parking: Free

Churaumi Café:

  • Hours: 1000 – 2000 daily
  • Admission: Okinawan Soba Set: 1080yen, AGU Taco Rice Set: 950, Pizza (for the kids to split): 1280yen

Churaumi Café Tip: Wait staff was very nice and the service was quick. High chair and English menu are also available. The food wasn’t the best that we had during our trip, but it was solid. Make sure to try some of the Okinawan specialties!

Emerald Beach: 

  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Admission: Free

[ D A Y • 5 ] Gusuku Bingata, Minatogawa, Tsuboya Pottery, Naha, Okinawa → Tokyo

For a small island, it can take a surprising amount of time to get from one place to another, so we decided to spend our last day on Okinawa exploring a few more places in and around Naha.  We weren’t flying out until late afternoon, so that left a good amount of time to explore. After checking out of the hotel, we headed to Gusuku Bingata, a small store and art studio which specializes in a form of traditional Okinawan artwork. Ryuku Bingata is a type of dyed cloth that dates back to the 15th century. It was traditionally used for the clothing used in Ryuku performances, but is now used for pretty much anything that can be made of cloth. A special starch is painted on the cloth and dye is applied around the starch. Once it sits for several days to set, the fabric is immersed in warm water, which dissolves the starch and reveals the pattern. It’s a perfect activity to do with kids (as long as you wear the provided aprons)! Honestly, our oldest (age 5) isn’t really one for activities that require sitting still (unless we are talking LEGOs, of course), but like batik painting in Malaysia, he LOVED Bingata! The staff of Gusuku Bingata were so welcoming and kind and I would highly recommend this experience.

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We headed to Urasoe Park afterwards for the kids to run around a bit (have to get as many wiggles as we can out before the flight back to Tokyo). Unfortunately a hefty chunk of the park was under renovation, so much of it was off limits, however, the kids were stoked that the roller slide was open for business! If you haven’t slid down a roller slide before this is a “must do” activity!

Keeping with our theme of exploring the arts of Okinawa, we set out for the Minatogawa area of Urasoe City (after exhausting the roller slide). It’s a small area set out in a grid pattern with boxy buildings initially used for military housing. Over the years, however, it has turned into a bustling arts community in which each street (named for U.S. States) has little shops, restaurants, and salons. It’s a fantastic place to shop for souvenirs or presents, as there are so many beautiful things to choose from. We were tempted to splurge on some pottery, but knowing we were heading to the Tsuboya Pottery Village next helped us hold back.

The Tsuboya District is a small area in the middle of Naha that is the center of Okinawa’s famous pottery industry. Made of clay found on the island, the Tsuboya area houses dozens of pottery studios and shops selling gorgeous dishes and artwork. We had been on the lookout for some Shisa lions to take home (see details below), and this spot proved to be the perfect place to find them.

After visiting a number of stores and going back and forth over a couple pieces we ended up deciding to purchase a pair of Shisas from Ikutouen Tsuboya Pottery. While the staff meticulously packaged up our purchase we waited and sipped green tea and indulged in a few sweets.

The store’s pottery studio was located just behind the retail shop a short walk away, so we made our way there after with our new Shisas in hand. Overall, we planned on this being a short stop, but there was so much to see that we stayed right up until the moment we had to head back to the airport.

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As a side note: Shisa, or lion-dogs, are a traditional part of Okinawan culture and it’s impossible to walk 10 feet in Naha (or nearly any other part of the island) without seeing them perched on doorways, arches, or rooftops. They were first brought to Okinawa from China in the 14th century, and the Chinese influence is easy to see. The male Shisa always sits on the right with its mouth open to scare off evil spirits, while the female sits on the left with its mouth closed to keep good spirits in. There was no way we could leave the island without bringing some back for our home.

We beelined it to the airport after our pottery excursion, hopped out to return the rental car, and shuttled to the terminal for an uneventful flight home. It was as smooth of a travel day as I could hope for. See you next time, Oki!

Gusuku Bingata:

  • Hours: 1000 – 1800 (Shop), 1000 -1600 (workshop/studio). Both are closed on Sundays.
  • Admission: Small canvas Bag: 2,000yen, Wall hanging 3,500yen. Credit card payments are accepted.
  • Parking: Free (there is a lot to the right of the store)

Gusuku Bingata Tip: The best way to contact the shop to set-up a time to paint is through Facebook. They are incredibly responsive and accommodating. We asked the morning of to come in and they made it happen. Great experience all-around!

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Urasoe Park:

  • Hours: 0900 – 2100
  • Admission: Free
  • Parking: Free, The park was in the process of being updated when we visited (Dec 2018), so the usual parking lots were closed. However, they have a temporary lot set up right down the street.

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Minatogawa:

  • Hours: Shops have varying hours, but most don’t open until 1100 and may be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
  • Parking: We parked in one of the many paid lots and paid 100yen/30min

Minatogawa Tip: Take some time to explore some of the adorable cafes and shops in this area. The following shops stood out to us:

  • Local Goods Store “Proots” Okinawa
  • Port River Market: Hours: 1230 – 1800, closed Sunday & public holidays
  • Okinawa Cerrado Coffee Beans Store: Hours: 1100 – 1830, closed on public holidays
  • Casa Machilda Toy Shop has a little wooden toy room as well as a shop: Hours: closed Mondays and Tuesdays

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Tsuboya Pottery District:

  • Hours: Most shops have hours around 1000 – 1600

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Ikutouen Tsuboya Pottery:

  • Hours: 1000 – 1830

gallery below