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A lot of tourists seem to hire cars to get around the main island of Okinawa, and that may be the best way of getting about, given that the only train of sorts is the Naha monorail.
That said, there are plenty of buses plying their way around the island, and so it is possible to get around that way, although some routes don't have high frequencies.
Written Apr 27, 2010
The only train system in Okinawa Japan is located in Naha City and is known as the Yui Rail (Okinawa Urban Monorail). The monorail was opened in 2003, with the purpose of connecting Naha Airport to the rest of the city and providing a means of public transportation besides the often inefficient bus system.
The current length of the Yui Rail is 12.8km, starting at Naha Airport and ending at Shuri Castle Station with a total of 15 stations. Each monorail train has 2 cars with 65 seats and the capacity to hold 165 passengers. There are future plans to expand the monorail but none have come to light as of yet.
Riding the Yui Rail is an easy and practical way to get around Naha for sightseeing or on business. Almost everywhere else in Okinawa it is necessary to rent a car or take a taxi.
The following describes how to buy and use a regular ticket (Futsu Joshaken) on the Yui Rail, monorail in Naha City Okinawa.
Once you arrive at a monorail station, the first thing you'll need to do is buy a ticket. Find your destination on the fare table located above the ticket vending machines, this will be listed in Japanese characters (kanji) and Romanized (English) letters, it will also show the cost to that station. Put the fare (coins, bills, or card) into the ticket vending machine. Then comes the challenge, match the English station name with Japanese character (kanji) on the ticket machine. Press the button for your destination and the machine will dispense your ticket. If you need a ticket for a child make sure to press the children button before you press the destination button as children fares are less expensive. If you have any problems with this process each monorail station in Naha has staff that can help.
After you have your ticket you can proceed through the station’s gates by placing your ticket in the slot on the right side of the gate. Be sure to grab it as it comes out on the other side as you will need it to get out at your destination.
Next, head toward the platform, following the sign for the train heading the direction you need to go. You can either go North toward Shuri or South toward Naha-Kuko.
Lastly, when you arrive at your destination station exit by inserting your ticket as you go through the opposite way as you did when entering. Regular ticket will dissipear in to the slot but if you purchased an all-day pass, do not forget to pick it up on the other side. If you travel further then the ticket purchased, the gate will close and station staff will come to collect the remaining fare or you can pay the difference at the fare-adjustment window.
Written Jan 1, 2009
If you ever spend a lot of time in Naha, there are better ways to get around than sitting in traffic on a bus or using up your budget by taking a taxi. One the better ways to get to most of the major areas of Naha is via the monorail, or "Yui Rail" as it is called. It only runs from the airport to Shuri Castle, but the cost is only 290 yen to cover that distance. A taxi costs twice that amount just to sit down in the taxi in the first place. The monorail has 15 stops throughout the city; including one at each end of Kokusai Dori, the probably the most well know street on Okinawa. At each stop there is a map of the surrounding area in English so it is easy to find your way. Unfortunately the monorail doesn't run at all hours. Operations hours are from 0600-2330. The website below is in Japanese, but you should still be able to follow it.
Written Oct 14, 2007
This is the only train in okinawa islands. It covers very small part on okinawa island but very convenient. It runs from naha airport to shuri castle. one way fare is 290 yen and run time is 27 mins. one can get single or multiple days pass for it. single day pass is 600 yen, 2 days pass is 1000 yen and 3 days pass is 1400 yen.
Written May 5, 2007
My one tip about the Okinawa Expressway is this: take it!!! There are no traffic lights, nobody is parked in the left lane, and nobody wants to make a right turn. I just love it. It is as easy to use as the Turnpikes out east. You will enter and take a ticket. Then you have a choice; south or north. North is Nago, south is Naha. For the most part anyways. If you drive the full length of it it will cost you 1000yen. We entered on 2 and exited on 5. It cost us 400yen. So, don't be afraid. It is so much faster.
Written Apr 10, 2007
Okinawan Buses are known to be a little slow, expensive, and not always on time. However, for short rides they can be economical. For example, a ride within Naha City limits will cost a few hundred yen, but when heading from the airport to the main resort area of Onna Village (about 90 minutes away by car), it will cost over 1,000 yen (about $US10). If you are traveling in a group of 3 or 4, you might want to skip the bus and take advantage of a cheap rent-a-car for long distances. If you are a solo traveler, the bus is the cheapest way to go, and it also allows you to view scenes of Okinawan life from the comfort of your seat. One thing to be concerned about is that there are not many signs in English for bus routes, especially in rural areas, but asking for help gets you in touch with the locals...To use the bus, make sure you have enough change because you can only use coins. If you do not have change, there is a machine that will change bills at the front of the bus, but don't wait until you are ready to get off the bus to do this. When you get on, first take a ticket. At the front of the bus, above the driver, there is an electronic board with numbers. You can check the fare by the corresponding number on your ticket.
Updated Oct 13, 2006
The Naha monorail system offers a safe and pleasant way to get to major destinations within Naha City. It is especially convenient for those traveling from the airport to downtown and Kokusai Street. Signs are in English so the monorail lines are easy to navigate. Short trips only cost a few hundred yen, while longer trips are a bit more expensive. The monorail also has a stop that is within walking distance to Shuri Castle. (If you don't feel like walking, it is a short taxi ride.) The ride at night from Shuri is especially nice as Shuri Castle can be seen lit up under lights.
Written Oct 1, 2006
Getting out to the outer islands is fairly easy once you get to the port. You just buy a ticket, get on the ferry, and you're on your way! Okinawa's ferry terminals are extremely small in size, making it impossible to get lost or miss your boat. The three most popular destinations are the Kerama Islands, Miyako Islands, and the Yaeyama Islands. To get to the Kerama Islands, go to Tomari Port in Naha, just off of Highway 58 behind the Kariyushi Urban Resort. The beautiful Kerama Islands are only about 90 minutes away! Ferries to Miyako and Yaeyama leave from Aja Port in the early evening and arrive in the morning. The main island in the Yaeyama chain is Ishigaki, but if you are continuing on to other islands, such as Iriomote or Taketomi, you can walk (or take a taxi) to the smaller ferry terminal where boats leave for the more isolated islands (just follow the crowds).
Updated Oct 1, 2006
Phone: Kerama:868-4567, Other:868-1126
From mainland Okinawa to nearby islands, the main departure point is Tomari Port, also known as Tomarin. From south and northern boarding areas, boats leave for Kume, Tonaki, Aguni, Tokashiki, Zamami, Aka, Geruma, Minami Daito, Kita Daito and Ie islands. Boats with destinations to Ishigaki and Miyako islands leave from Naha Shinko Wharf (Aja Port).
In the northern part of Okinawa's main island, boats to Ie Island can be boarded at Motobu Port located in Motobu Town. In Toguchi Port, boats lead to Minna Island. Unten Port in Nakijin Village is your door to Kouri, Iheya and Izena Islands, while Katsuren Town's Heshikiya Port leads to Tsuken Island. In southern Okinawa, Chinen Village's Azama Port allows you to reach Kudaka Island.
Sea routes between Okinawa's main island and outer islands are essential in everyday life here. In the Yaeyama and Miyako regions, boats are the main means of transportation between islands. As these tend to be small ferries, verification prior to travel is recommended.
Written Jun 28, 2006
Well, almost everything in Okinawa is expensive, and taxi's are definitely not excluded from that. Generally, you will be looking at $20 or more, for a ten minute drive. The taxi drivers are all very nice though.
Written Nov 19, 2005
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