Unique Places in Okinawa

  • Off The Beaten Path
    by Ewingjr98
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by Ewingjr98
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by Ewingjr98

Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Okinawa

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    SAFETY TRAFFIC TOWER!

    by Ewingjr98 Written Apr 3, 2014

    In the town of Ginowan, Okinawa, stands a fat tower with the English words "SAFETY TRAFFIC TOWER." Such an unusual phrase for a monument, what could this mean?

    Apparently it was build in honor of the 1964 Olympic torch relay, hence the flames on top of the tower. The wording supposedly is a wish for safe traffic at this busy intersection. Very unusual.

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    Ryukyu Islands Surrender Site

    by Ewingjr98 Written Mar 20, 2014

    The Battle of Okinawa lasted about 82 days, from April through June 1945. The battle ended, the military commander of Okinawa did not surrender until 7 September 1945, five days after the nation surrendered to the allies on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

    The official surrender of the Japanese forces on Okinawa and the Rykyu Islands took place on what is now Kadena Air Base. Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell, the Tenth Army Commander, accepted the surrender of the Japanese under the command of Lt. Gen. Toshiro Nomi.

    Today a quiet site marks the surrender spot on Kadena in an area called Stearley Heights.

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    Ryukyu Tombs on Kadena Air Base

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Mar 17, 2014

    Kadena Air Base has a few ancient historical sites of the native Ryukyu people. Near gate 1 is one of the most prominent, a pair of large tombs facing into the afternoon sunset. These burial mounds are called kame kōbaka, or turtle-back tombs, and were modeled after tombs of the Chinese.

    Ryukyu Tombs

    Kadena AB has numerous Historical/Cultural assets that tell the story of the Okinawan people. The importance of the Okinawan pas and its influence on today's society is recognized by Kadena AB. here are many locations on base that are considered sacred by the Okinawans including shrines, places of worship, and tombs. These locations are strictly protected and carefully monitored to ensure theses cultural or historical assets are preserved.

    This tomb is a Kameko-haka, the omega or turle-back tomb, the larest type of tomb on Okinawa. The architectural style is similar to that found in Fukken, China and it probably was introduced during the years of contact beteen China and Okinawa in the 1600s. These are not tombs or individual persons, they belong to ancestral lines within a community of commoners. These tombs continue to be used by family and lineage to the present day.

    The size of the tomb denotes the wealth of the family. The larger they are, the more wealthy they are. The design of the tomb symbolizes the mother. There is a saying that "humans come from their mother and in death return to their mother." The entrance to the tomb is a mother's womb.

    U.S. Air Force 50th Anniversary Commemoreated on 18 September 1997.

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    Hospital Cave on Kadena Air Base

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Mar 15, 2014

    Next to Kadena Air Base's golf course is the entrance to a sealed off cave. This caves is said to have been a Japanese hospital in the days leading up to the American invasion of Okinawa. The caves was concealed behind the small peak and under the thick jungle canopy, and the only entrance protected by a heavy machine gun mount.

    In modern times, it is said the cave is haunted, possibly by Japanese nurses or soldier who died here.

    A sign at the entrance to the cave reads:

    KAB
    Historic Marker

    On 1 April 1945, elements of the 7th Infantry Division
    landed on the nearby Toguchi Beaches and by 1000
    hours had overrun the Japanese Army's Kadena Airfield
    against unexpectedly light resistance. There was one
    unmanned gun emplacement on the peak to the left at
    the time this area was secured.

    In 1945, the base commander directed that existing
    tombs or caves be adapted for use as air raid shelters.
    The series of caves in the peak on the left were found
    to contain a number of cots, litters, and other medical
    items, suggesting the caves had been used as a dispensary
    by the Japanese forces. The natural caves, improved by
    Japanese, remain almost the same as when found by
    the 17th Communications Construction Company.

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    Diving with Whale Sharks

    by VA_Dave Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    My most amazing adventure in Okinawa was diving with whale sharks in Yomitan. Fisherman have two of these sharks in an enclosure out at sea,and you can scuba dive with them for only $115 for 35 minutes. They are like big puppy dogs. For more details, see my web page http://www.infiltec.com/oki-0902/

    Related to:
    • Diving and Snorkeling

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    Mount Katsu

    by daniw911 Written Dec 9, 2007

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    This is another nice hike that will take you about 3 1/2 hours round trip. Go to Nago, take 449 of off 58. Make a right after 72 and follow the sign to Mount Katsu entrance. Park and start climbing the stairs. It will take you about 45 minutes to get to the top. Some people just enjoy the view and turn around. If you want to keep going once on top go north. The trail is pretty hard to find just keep climbing. Warning; this is not for small children! It is marked with various colors; red, blue, yellow, green. I haven't figured the difference yet. The rest is mostly downhill scrambling. Once you get to the bottom make a left and another left. Head back up the road to the parking lot.

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    • Hiking and Walking

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    Yamada Stone Bridge Trail

    by daniw911 Written Dec 9, 2007

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    This is a nice moderate hike that will take you about 45 minutes up and 45 back down. On top you have a great view of Okinawa. You'll be able to see the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean at the same time.
    To get there go north on 58, make a right at the light before the Renaissance Hotel (Onna Village), go around a curve or two you'll see a ramp on your left. Park, go up the ramp, you see a field and house on your left. There is a T. Make a left and follow the stairs down you come to the stone bridge. Make a right and go up you found the trail to the top.

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    • Hiking and Walking

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    Enjoy the aromas and colors of a local market

    by okinawa_wave Written Aug 12, 2007

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    Visit one of Okinawa's markets and you will soon be sucked into a world of unique smells, tastes, sounds, and sites. Okinawans have a great love for fresh food and the island's markets are a gateway to local cuisine. One of the best markets to visit is the Makishi Market located off of Heiwa Dori in Naha City. Although it has become popular with mainland Japanese tourists recently, it is still a favorite place to shop for Naha residents. Ths place is interesting to visit and you are sure to get some interesting photographs. The shop owners are very friendly, so even if you don't speak Japanese, a friendly smile will carry you a long way. If you are hungry, you can select some fresh seafood and have it prepared any way you want. The shop will have it brought to you on the second floor, where there is a large dining area and other restaurants. You can find Heiwa Dori off of Kokusai Street. Walk straight down and the market is off to the right about midway. Just say "Makishi Machigwa" to any of the locals and they will point you in the right direction.

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Budget Travel
    • Food and Dining

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    Beach Camping Okinawa

    by daniw911 Written May 13, 2007

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    This is a great thing to do if you like camping. Find yourself an out of the way beach and settle in for the night or the weekend. Now you are going to wonder how to fing that secluded beach. This is where it might get tricky; if you are lucky you have a friend that's been here a while and he/she will give you directions. If you don't know anybody here is what you do. Pick an area that is a little out of the way. Then when you drive down the road you should be able to tell if there is a beach or not. If you see cars parked by the side of the road for no apparent reason you've hit the jackpot. Now all you have to do is find the way down to the beach. If you see some locals ask them and they are more than willing to help you out. They tell you if camping is allowed or not. If you don't see locals swimming the beach might still be okay, but be careful of swimming. Common sense applies here. Usually danger signs are posted and if they are really serious they are in english. I would tell you the location of our beaches, but then that would spoil all the fun wouldn't it?

    Related to:
    • Fishing
    • Diving and Snorkeling
    • Camping

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    A island built for one

    by seoulgirl Updated Oct 14, 2006

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    I took a ferry boat to Tokashiki Island, a small island about an hours boat ride from Naha. My ticket cost 2800 yen ($25.20). There werent' a whole heck of a lot of passengers. I would guess there were about 15 of us on this huge boat.

    The water is beautiful tourqoise. I could see all kinds of tropical fish swimming around. I threw on a pair of shorts and went out for a swim. Nothing like having an entire beach to yourself. The weather was gorgeous. Here it is February and around 75 degrees. Perfect.

    More info: There is a small travel office at the pier in Naha where you catch the ferry. You can purchase a ticket there. The ferries go to several islands with similar sounding names, so make sure they know exactly which island you are going to. Also, make sure they show you exactly which boat to get on, because there are several boats going to different islands and it can be confusing. On your way to the island, you may get to see some whales swimming by. Once you get to the island, there is a mini van that will take you to the other side of the island where you will find some cool caverns and a gorgeous beach filled with beautiful pieces of corral. He will drop you off at at the beach and give you a time to meet him again so that he can take you back in time to catch the ferry. On the off-season, you may very likely be the only ones on the beach. It's awesome! Make sure you take food, beverages and sunscreen with you. The sun is really bright reflecting off the white beach. I think it was around 4 hours of hangout beach time before I had to head back. In the little town on the other side of the island, there is a tiny convenience store with a little old lady who is very interested in making a buck who will sell you expensive swimsuits, dried squid, some kind of Japanese bread, and beer and water. The beach is vast and great for exploring. It's well worth the trip to have the place to yourself!

    Related to:
    • Diving and Snorkeling
    • Beaches
    • Eco-Tourism

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    See an Okinawan-style Bullfight!

    by okinawa_wave Updated May 26, 2006

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    Okinawan bullfights are popular with locals around the island, but they are seldom seen by visitors. Most of the information for upcoming bullfight events is in Japanese, but if you go to the city government offices of places where bullfighting arenas exist--( such as Okinawa City, Ishikawa, and Chinen)-- you should be able to get some information. The bullfights showcase the power of bulls as they battle each other inside a small arena. For people who are now grimacing at the thought of blood and gore, do not worry as this rarely happens. The bulls square off and lock horns and push each other around until one bull decides it has had enough and runs away. The bulls are always accompanied by their owners during the fight. The owners cheer for the bulls, yell out instructions, and keep the bulls from fatally hurting each other.

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    • Arts and Culture

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    Festivals

    by okinawa_wave Written Mar 27, 2006

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    Okinawa has an amazing amount of festivals that occur throughout the year. One of the most popular is the Obon festival, which includes the Eisa dance. During Obon it is said that ancestral spirits visit the homes of Okinawans. During this three-day event there is plenty of drinking and eating. On the last day, Eisa dancers and drummers can be seen performing all night to the next morning as they send the spirits back with a joyful farewell. This is one of the more colorful and fun festivals of the summer. Other traditional festivals include "hari" (traditional boat races), the tug-of-war, and various spiritual ceremonies.

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    • Historical Travel

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    Ryukyu Dancing

    by okinawa_wave Written Mar 27, 2006

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    The exquisite beauty of Ryukyu dancing can be seen at many festivals and dance theatres around the island. The dances can be traced back to the Ryukyu Kingdom Era. The two most popular forms of dance are classical and folk. Classical dances were performed at the royal court while folk dances were a way for common citizens to express and enjoy themselves with very colorful and animated dances that often depict stories of love and romance.

    Related to:
    • Theater Travel
    • Music

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    Asumui Prayer Site (Kohgoh Sekirinzan Park)

    by okinawa_wave Updated Mar 26, 2006

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    With geological formations that date back to over 200,000,000 years ago, Asumui is considered the most ancient piece of landform on Okinawa Island. Its "Lord of the Rings" atmosphere and interesting plantlife have begun to draw attention, but it is still off the beaten track for most tourists. Asumui is also much more than a nature park; it is one of Okinawa's most important spiritual places of worship for shaman priestesses. In fact, when the land was purchased by a private company and turned into a park, the plan was met with much controversey. Please keep in mind that when you visit Asumui, you are walking on land that has been a prayer site for more than 2,500 years.

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    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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    Iriomote Island

    by okinawa_wave Written Mar 26, 2006

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    Iriomote is like Okinawa's wild frontier. It is located near Ishigaki Island and the entire island is a national park. Iriomote is famous for its jungle-like terrain and rare species of flora and fauna. Its most famous inhabitant is the Iriomote Wildcat, which was discovered as a new species of cat endemic to Iriomote in the 1960's. There are many trekking courses that lead you to picturesque waterfalls, or you can join a kayaking tour and paddle through a mangrove forest. Definitely worth a visit!

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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Okinawa Off The Beaten Path

Reviews and photos of Okinawa off the beaten path posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Okinawa sightseeing.
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