Naha is located on the protruding southeastern part of the island of Okinawa. The city is also the main port and main gateway to Okinawa.
Naha is the seat of the local government and the commercial center of Okinawa Prefecture. The population of the city is 308 thousand people. The area is 39 km2.
During World War II the city was completely destroyed. After the end of the war, colossal efforts were made to clear the city, but first it was built up with barracks. In 1955, a plan for the systematic development of the city was developed. After that, the city was quickly restored.
Naha has a lot to see and do.
All tourists and guests of the city must make a promenade along the main shopping street of Naha – kokusai dori 国際通り. The SAELU Gakuin School, which organizes the summer program, and the Stork Hotel, which will house the group, are within walking distance of the kokusai dori. Therefore, the participants of the program will have the opportunity to walk there at least every day 🙂
By the way, Kokusai-dori was very quickly restored from ruins, for which the street was nicknamed the “Mile of Miracles”.
One of the most famous and important sights of Naha city is the central castle of the Shuri complex and Shuri Park mentioned above.
Shuri Castle is a three-story wooden structure 16 meters high. It is a beautiful copy of the original, which was recreated from drawings and documents kept by the Ministry of Education in Tokyo. The castle has 2 reception halls: the left hall is decorated in Chinese style and is designed to receive Chinese delegations. The right hall is decorated in Japanese style, where envoys of the Satsuma feudal clan were received.
I should note that Shuri Castle is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Shuri Castle Park is located on a hill outside Naha City and covers an area of 26 hectares. It was also destroyed during World War II and completely recreated according to the original design. The construction was completed and the park opened to the public in November 1992. The reconstruction of the castle was carried out by the Japanese government and was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the transfer of Okinawa and its return to Japan.
The Shurei-mon Gate is the symbol of Okinawa. The name literally means “Gate of Courtesy”. It used to be one of the three main gates leading to Shuri Castle. They were reconstructed in 1958 and are an exact replica of the original gates. Most importantly, they are a testament to the unique style of 16th-century Okinawa.
The Shurei-mon Gate is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Shurei-mon gate is featured on the 2,000 yen banknote issued in 2000 to commemorate the 26th G8 summit held in Okinawa.
Yes Yes! I had it in my hands when it was brand new! And I remember well the excitement around this banknote, everyone then wanted to get it 🙂
As part of our summer program, we definitely plan to make an excursion to Shuri Castle and Park and see these unique structures with our own eyes.
Of course, these are not all the sights of Okinawa, as part of our program we will see other famous places, which I will talk about in the following notes.
And for those who do not know yet, I inform you that the Japanese language school SAELU Gakuin, together with the Study in Japan Guide center, organizes a special 2-week summer program in the Japanese subtropics – Okinawa Prefecture. This program will allow you to combine study and relaxation on the amazing sea.
The program includes:
- 36 academic hours of Japanese (9 academic days, 4 hours per day)
- accommodation at the Stork Hotel in downtown Naha (single occupancy, free drinks in the hotel lobby, free Wi-Fi and TV in all rooms)
- accompaniment of an interpreter during the entire program of stay in Okinawa (the program coordinator is your obedient servant, I will accompany the group throughout the program)
- cultural and entertainment program (master classes, excursions around Naha and nearby areas)
- ferry trip to Tokashiki island for 2 days with an overnight stay (rest on Aharen beach, visit to the observation deck)
- transfer from / to the airport by monorail
- visa support
- gifts for program participants