Okinawa City (Okinawa-shi)
Okinawa is known for its large shopping centers, nightlife, and music scene. The city is the birthplace of a distinctive style of music known as Okinawan reggae, which you can still hear in clubs today. For travelers interested in history, the main attraction is Nakagusuku Castle, just south of the city center. Travelers with families will also likely enjoy visiting Okinawa Zoo and Museum, which is home to around 1,000 animals of about 150 species, including elephants and lions.
Things to know before you go
- In the city center, many shop signs are written in English, and prices are shown in U.S. dollars.
- The city is easy to navigate by bus or on foot.
- You’ll find an information center that specifically caters to foreign tourists on Palmyra Street.
How to get there
Okinawa City is around a 30-40-minute drive north of Naha. If driving, simply follow Route 58. You can also take the number 27 bus on the Yahena Line from Naha Bus Station. The journey takes around an hour.
When to get there
The best time to visit the Okinawan Islands is in spring or fall (March through early May and late September to December). You’ll miss the rainy season, which lasts from early May to early June, and the typhoons that often occur in July and August.
A 25-minute drive south of Okinawa City, just north of Naha, Shuri Castle is part of the Castles of the Ryukyu Kingdom UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once the home of Ryukyu king, the castle now has an on-site museum, which offers exhibits about Japanese history, and restored opulent interiors, which guests can explore.
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