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—  City  —
那覇市 · Naha City
Central Naha, near Kenchō-mae Station of Okinawa Monorail.


Location of Naha in Okinawa
Naha is located in Japan
Coordinates: 26°12′44″N 127°40′45″E / 26.21222°N 127.67917°E / 26.21222; 127.67917
Country Japan
Region Kyūshū
Prefecture Okinawa
 - Mayor Takeshi Onaga (翁長雄志 Onaga Takeshi?)
 - Total 38.99 km2 (15.1 sq mi)
(December 31, 2009)
 - Density 8,153.53/km2 (21,117.5/sq mi)
City Symbols
 - Tree Fukugi
 - Flower Bougainvillea
Website Naha official website in Japanese
Phone number (098) 867-0111

Naha-shi, Izumizaki 1-1-1

Naha (那覇市 Naha-shi?, Okinawan: Nāfa) is the capital city of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. The modern city was officially founded on May 20, 1921, but prior to that Naha had already been for centuries one of the most important and populous sites in the Ryukyu Islands.

Naha is a coastal city located on the East China Sea coast of the southern part of Okinawa Island, the largest of the Ryukyu Islands.

Naha is the political, economic and educational center of Okinawa Prefecture. In the medieval and early modern periods[1], it was also the commercial center of the Ryūkyū Kingdom.


City Center

Central Naha consists of the Palette Kumoji shopping mall, the Okinawa Prefecture Office, Naha City Hall, and many banks and corporations, located at the west end of Kokusai-dōri, the city's main street. Kokusai-dōri (国際通り "International Avenue"?) boasts a mile (1.6 km) long stretch of stores, restaurants and bars. Kokusai-dōri ends at the main bus terminal in Okinawa, and is served by several stations along the Okinawa Monorail, the only train system in the prefecture.

Spurring off from Kokusai-dōri is the covered Heiwa-dōri Shopping Arcade and Makishi Public Market, a massive shōtengai filled with fresh fish, meat, and produce stands, restaurants, tourist goods shops, and liquor shops. Just outside the market area is the neighborhood of Tsuboya (壺屋 "pot/jar shop"?), which was once a major center of ceramic production (see Tsuboya-yaki).

Northeast of Kokusai-dōri is a relatively new commercial district called Shintoshin (新都心 "New Metropolitan Heart"?). The area, formerly United States military housing, was released to Okinawa in 1987, but major development only began in the mid-1990s. Omoromachi Station is attached directly to an upscale shopping mall; another upscale shopping mall, "Naha Main Place", located a few hundred meters down the street, contains many upscale Western brand fashion boutiques, along with restaurants and other shops. Frequented by young people, the area boasts large stores such as Toys R Us and Best Denki (an electronics store), a co-op market, many restaurants and a movie theater. The Okinawa Prefectural Museum, containing sections devoted to the art, history, and natural history of the Ryukyus, opened in the area in November 2007, and sits in front of Shintoshin Park.


According to the Irosetsuden, the name of Naha comes from its original name, Naba, which was the name of a certain large, mushroom-shaped stone in the city. Gradually, the stone wore away and became buried, and the name's pronunciation and its kanji gradually changed. (Oshiro, 1964).

In Naha, some archeological relics of the Stone Age were found. Also, from a Jōmon period kaizuka (shell mound), ancient Chinese coins were found. Pottery found by archaeologists indicates that the area was an active site of trade with the Japanese archipelago and Korean peninsula at least as early as the 11th century. Though it is not known just when the area first became organized as a functioning port city, it was active as such by the time of the unification of the Ryūkyū Kingdom in the early 15th century[2].

Though today Naha has grown to incorporate the former royal capital city of Shuri, center of Chinese learning Kumemura, and other towns and villages, in the period of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, it was a smaller city, prominent as a major port, but not as a political center.

Medieval Naha was located on a tiny island called Ukishima, connected to the mainland of Okinawa Island by a narrow causeway called Chōkōtei (長虹堤 lit. "long rainbow embankment"?) which led on to Shuri. The main port area for international trade, Naha proper, was divided into the East (東, higashi) and West (西, nishi) districts, and was located on the southwestern portion of Ukishima. A large open air marketplace was active in front of the royal government trading center, or oyamise (親見世). A number of Japanese temples and shrines were located here, along with a residence and embassy, known as the Tenshikan (天使館), for visiting Chinese officials. A pair of forts (Mie gusuku and Yarazamori gusuku) built atop embankments extending out across the entrance to the harbor defended the port, and a small island located within the harbor held a warehouse, Omono gusuku (御物グスク), used for storing trade goods[3].

Tomari (泊), on the mainland of Okinawa Island to the northeast of Ukishima, served as the chief port for trade within the Ryūkyū Islands. The administrators of Tomari were also responsible for collecting and managing the tribute paid to the kingdom by the Amami Islands, whose tribute ships made port here[3].

Kume-Ōdōri (久米大通り "Kume Great Avenue"?) ran across Ukishima from southeast to northwest, forming the center of the walled community of Kumemura, the center of classical Chinese learning in Ryūkyū for centuries[3]. Kumemura is traditionally believed to have been founded by thirty-six Min families sent to Ryūkyū by the Ming Chinese Imperial Court, and to be inhabited primarily or solely by descendants of those settlers; historian Uezato Takashi points out, however, that due to Naha's prominence in international maritime trade networks, it is quite likely that many other Chinese, chiefly from Fujian and other maritime trading areas along the southern Chinese coast, would have settled here as well[4]. Major sites within the community included the Tensonbyō Taoist temple near the northern end of Kume-Ōdōri and two shrines called Upper and Lower Tenpigū, dedicated to the Taoist goddess of the sea Tenpi, also known as Matsu[3]. A Confucian temple, the gift of the Kangxi Emperor, was built in Kumemura in the 1670s; the Meirindō, a school of classic Confucian Chinese learning, was established in 1718[5]. Following their destruction in World War II, the Meirindō, Confucian temple, and Tenpigū shrines were rebuilt on the site of the Tensonbyō in northern Kume, where they stand today as the Confucian temple Shiseibyō.

On the northwest side of Ukishima lay Wakasamachi (若狭町 "Wakasa town"?), a community traditionally said to have been founded by Japanese settlers. It was organized around Wakasamachi-Ōdōri, an avenue which intersected with Kume-Ōdōri and ran across tidal mudflats to the east of Ukishima, connecting the community to the port of Tomari on the Okinawan mainland. A number of Japanese shrines and temples were located in Wakasamachi, including the Naminoue Shrine, the Zen temple Kōganji, and temples devoted to Ebisu and Jizō. The community also contained lodgings specifically set aside for traders and travelers from the Tokara Islands[3].

Another settlement, known as Izumizaki, lay on the mainland of Okinawa Island, just across the Kumoji River from Ukishima. Izumizaki had no notable or major port facilities, and is believed to have been simply an extension of the residential community of Naha proper, which thus spread onto the mainland as the population and according demand for land grew[3]. At some point, the tidal mudflats and Kumoji River separating Ukishima, that is, Naha, from Okinawa Island were filled in. The neighborhoods of Kume, Wakasa, and Tomari can still be found in Naha today.

"Naha from Bamboo Village" looking towards the seashore. Artist: Wilhelm Heine (lithograph, 1856).

Commodore Matthew C. Perry's expeditionary squadron stopped in Naha en route to Tokyo in 1853; and the American ships visited several more times. The lithographs prepared from drawings made by the expedition's official artist would be widely circulated. These images would provide the basis for 19th century impressions of the geography and people of the Ryūkyū islands.

After the replacement of the Ryūkyū Kingdom with the Ryūkyū Domain in 1872, Naha became the capital city. The Ryūkyū Domain was abolished in 1879 and the former Ryūkyū Kingdom came to an end, fully annexed by Japan as Okinawa Prefecture, with Naha remaining as the capital city. Shuri and other neighboring municipalities were absorbed into the city in the decades following.

During the battle of Okinawa in World War II, Naha suffered extensive damage from attacks by US forces. The entire center of the city had to be rebuilt.


Climate data for Naha, Japan (1971-2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 19.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 16.6
Average low °C (°F) 14.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 114.5
Snowfall cm (inches) 0
Sunshine hours 95.3 84.6 108.9 134.1 149.5 182.2 243.6 223.6 196.6 168.1 120.9 113.6 1,820.9
% Humidity 69 71 74 78 80 84 79 80 77 73 71 68 75
Avg. snowy days 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0
Source: [6] 2009-06-08

Martial arts

Naha-te, (Naha-hand), called Nawate by Gichin Funakoshi, is a type of martial art developed in Naha.[7] Together with the martial arts styles developed in Tomari and Shuri it formed the basis for Okinawa-te, which in turn is the origin of today's karate.[8]


Japan Transocean Air and Ryukyu Air Commuter, subsidiaries of Japan Airlines, are headquartered in Naha.[9][10]


Four universities are located in the Naha area. Two are run by Okinawa Prefecture; two are private. The University of the Ryukyus, the sole national university in Okinawa Prefecture, was also in Naha, on the site of Shuri Castle. Prior to the restoration of the castle, the university moved to the town of Nishihara to the northeast of Naha.

Naha's public elementary and junior high schools are operated by the Naha City Board of Education [1]. Naha's public high schools are operated by the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education. Private schools include the Okinawa Actors' School.


Walls of Shuri Castle in Naha

The restored and rebuilt Shuri Castle, the former royal palace of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, is one of the finest gusuku (Okinawan castle) and among the most important historical sites in Naha. The palace, and a series of tunnels underneath it, were used as a major command post by the Imperial Japanese military during World War II, and the castle was subsequently almost completely destroyed in 1945 by the US Marines, Army and Navy. After the war, the University of the Ryūkyūs was constructed on the site. Today Shuri Castle has been reconstructed, including the famous Shureimon, its main gate, and is registered, along with a number of other gusuku and other Okinawan historical and sacred sites, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lake Man, covered with mangrove woods on the boundary of the city of Tomigusuku, is listed on the Ramsar list of wetlands.


Naha Airport and Naha Port serve the city. Naha Airport is the hub of the Ryukyu Islands.

The Okinawa Monorail, also known as the Yui Rail (ゆいレール) carries passengers from Naha Airport Station to the center of Naha, Kokusai-dōri, Shintoshin, and to the terminal at Shuri Station, near Shuri Castle.

International relations

Shureimon in Naha

Twin towns — Sister cities

Naha is twinned with:[11]

Naha in popular media

Portions of Naha have been faithfully recreated in 3D for Sega Ryu ga Gotoku 3 2009 video game on PlayStation 3. This virtual version include Kokusai-dōri, the covered Heiwa-dōri Shopping Arcade, Makishi Public Market and the Monorail's Kenchō-mae Station.

Shuri Castle during the American invasion was recreated in Call of Duty: World at War during the final stages of the game. The player must help capture the castle and it is the final level for the American portion of the story.


  • Ooshiro, Sally. Irosetsuden, thesis translation of ancient Ryūkyū record compilation. Submitted to University of Hawaii, 1964.
  1. ^ Specifically, the medieval period of Okinawan history, referred to as ko-ryūkyū (古琉球, lit. "Old Ryukyu") in Japanese, extends from roughly the 12th century until the Invasion of Ryukyu by Japanese forces in 1609. The early modern period extends from that year until roughly 1879, the year the Ryukyu Kingdom was abolished and replaced with Okinawa Prefecture.
  2. ^ Uezato, Takashi. "The Formation of the Port City of Naha in Ryukyu and the World of Maritime Asia: From the Perspective of a Japanese Network." Acta Asiatica vol 95 (2008). Tokyo: Tōhō Gakkai (The Institute of Eastern Culture). pp57-58.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Uezato. p62.
  4. ^ Uezato. p59.
  5. ^ Kerr, George H. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. revised ed. Boston: Tuttle Publishing, 2000. pp194,204, 221.
  6. ^ "気象庁 / 平年値(年・月ごとの値)". Japan Meteorological Agency. 
  7. ^ Cezar Borkowski, Marion Manzo, 1998 The complete idiot's guide to martial arts. p178
  8. ^ Funakoshi, Gichin (1981) [1975]. Karate-Do: My Way of Life. Tokyo: Kodansha International. p. 37. ISBN 978-0870114632. 
  9. ^ "Company Profile" (Japanese). Japan Transocean Air. Retrieved on May 19, 2009.
  10. ^ "会社概要." Ryukyu Air Commuter. Retrieved on May 19, 2009.
  11. ^ Naha Sister Cities
  12. ^ Prefeitura.Sp - Descentralized Cooperation
  13. ^ International Relations - São Paulo City Hall - Official Sister Cities

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Naha (那覇) is the capital of the Okinawa Prefecture in Japan and is the main city on Okinawa Island, with a population of around 700,000 - more than half the total population of Okinawa.

Get in

Naha Airport (那覇空港 Naha-kūkō, OKA; [1]) is the largest airport in the Okinawa area and the main hub for international and inter-island flights. A new monorail, opened in 2003, connects the airport to the city center.

Note: There is also a Naha Airport (NAH) in Indonesia, which should not be confused with this!

The Naha Monorail
The Naha Monorail

The Naha monorail ([2], Japanese only) links together the airport, the city and Shuri Castle. Tickets cost ¥200-290 depending on distance, or you can get a one-day pass for ¥600.

Naha Shikinaen garden
Naha Shikinaen garden
  • Shuri Castle (首里城 Shuri-jō) is the former seat of the Ryukyu Kingdom, built in the Okinawan gusuku style. Completely destroyed during World War II, the present buildings were rebuilt in 1958 and 1992.

The town of Itoman lies south and southeast of Naha, and has several attractions.

  • Himeyuri Peace Museum 671-1 Aza-Ihara, Itoman, 098-997-2101, [3] (in Japanese). 9 AM-5 PM. Students from two women's schools, together called Himeyuri, were mobilized to work as field nurses during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. This memorial museum documents, from a personal perspective, their lives before and during the battle, in which many of them died. Exhibits are labeled in English, and the museum is a worthwhile visit. ¥300 (discounts for high school students and younger)
  • Okinawa Peace Park has several memorials relating to the Battle of Okinawa. To get there by bus, take bus no. 89 from Naha bus terminal, change to bus no. 82 at Itoman bus terminal, and get off at the Heiwa-kinendo-iriguchi stop.
    • Peace Park This park has a beautiful view overlooking the ocean, and features several open-air memorials including the Cornerstone of Peace, wave-like walls of granite on which are engraved the names of those who died in the battle, on both sides.
    • Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum 614-1 Mabuni, 098-997-3844, [4]. Tues-Sun 9AM-5PM, closed Dec. 29-Jan. 3. Museum describes the Battle of Okinawa. ¥300 (discounts for children)
    • Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall 448-2 Mabuni Itoman, 098-997-3011. A separate memorial, marked by a high tower, with the Peace Memorial Statue and exhibitions of Japanese artists. ¥500 (discounts for junior high school students and younger).
  • Okinawa World 1336 Maekawa, Tamagusuku village (by bus No. 54 or 83, get off Gyokusendo-mae stop), 098-949-7421, [5] (in Japanese). 9AM-5PM. The major attraction at this theme park is Gyokusendo Cave, 890 meters long, with some interesting stalagmite and stalactite formations. Above the cave is a touristy village with performances of traditional dance, shops selling crafts and snake liquors, and restaurants. Separate admission is required for the habu snake exhibition which includes a snake and mongose show. Cave and village ¥1200, add ¥400 for snake exhibition (discounts for junior high school students and younger).
Kokusai dori - The "International" street is a good place for some shopping
Kokusai dori - The "International" street is a good place for some shopping
  • Kiteboarding is possible year round with the winter months being the best.
    • Kite Club Okinawa, 270-102 Gibo, Tomigusuku-shi (Across from the Tomigusuku Central Hospital Family Mart), 098-851-0180/mobile 090-6779-9990, [6]. 10:00 to 20:00 but call first in Japanese. Taka-san is a first rate kite-boarder and a very nice guy. Drop by for lessons, supplies, information about car rental, lodging, tours and whatever else you might need. Closed Tuesdays.  edit
  • Scuba Diving A number of diving businesses offer training courses and diving excursions to the nearby Kerama Islands.
    • Blue Zone, 0120-48-1415, [7]. A diving shop with their own boat. Their very friendly staff offer scuba diving courses and diving trips to the Kerama Islands. A boat trip with two dives is 11,800 yen. Full rental service is 3,000 yen. An optional dive is 5,000 yen. (26.2194,127.69135) edit
  • Shopping Kokusai Doori is full of shops that sell a multitude of Okinawan products. It's also a good place to check out the nightlife and youth scene.
  • Beach Naha actually has one beach, straight towards the ocean from the southern end of kokusai doori. Not the most beautiful beach in Okinawa, but a clean beach for all practical purposes.
  • Fishing Just 15 minutes from Naha Airport is the dock where Saltwater Fishing Okinawa's head boat is berthed. They specialize in affordable offshore big game fishing for marlin, tuna, wahoo, and mahi mahi, and fish all year round. Contact info is phone="090-3797-9810" or website: [8]. A fully incorporated charter service that you can trust.
  • Makishi Market. Known as "the kitchen of Okinawa", This market started as a kind of black market after WW2. There are more than 400 shops in one floor. You can buy any Okinawa’s traditional foods like dried sea snake (イラブー irabū), pork (Okinawas say they eat everything except the hooves and the scream), special vegetables not found on the mainland, colorful fish, or edible seaweed. There are many restaurants upstairs, serving traditional Okinawan home cooking. If you pay extra money, they will cook dishes with ingredients which you bought downstairs.
  • Afro Nest A raggae themed basement-restaurant with surprisingly good food just off of Kokusai Doori. Delicious goya champuru and karaage. Try the Afro Rice, it's excellent.
  • Warahondo This cozy, macrobiotic restaurant is one of the few places to get vegan food in Okinawa. The main course changes daily and is always served with fresh brown rice. You can also buy your organic foods, fruits and vegetables here.
  • king taco, Kin. Located outside of the Camp Hansen Marine base, King Taco is hands down the authority on the local creation "taco rice and cheese". A mouth watering dish that will make any night in Kin something special to remember.  edit


You can find several establishments in and around Kokusai Street to enjoy the odd drink or two. There's a few clubs about as well; those frequented by locals, those frequented by US military folks and a mixture of both. Don't try gaining admission (around $25) wearing sandals, as these are frowned on, for some reason.

For the more daring drinker habushu (ハブ酒) is widely available in bars and souvenir shops. Each bottle of fiery shochu liquor comes with a venomous snake inside, best drunk down in one as sipping is not recommended!

  • Bar Dick. For a less frantic, more intimate time, you could do worse than check out this American-style bar that's verging on refined. Take care not to be too noisy as it will only upset the otherwise friendly and attentive staff. Bar Dick is the premier whiskey and scotch bar on the island, with expert bartenders, some of whom have been featured in magazines and recieved awards at national level competions.  edit
  • Rehab, Kokusai-dori, [9]. Canadian owned Bar with English speaking staff. The customers are mostly English teachers and Expats and quite a few Japanese nationals. Very friendly place. Limited food menu.  edit
  • Smugglers Irish Pub, 1 block from Kokusai Street, [10]. Really nice place to drink. The staff speaks English. One bloke lived in London for 5 years. Lots of friendly locals. Food is good and they had Union Rugby on the T.V. Just walk up the hill from Ryubo Shopping Centre on Kokusai Steet. It is on the left side.  edit
  • Campnou Bar (Aka Football Bar), Paradise Dori. Behind JAL Hotel on Kokusai Dori.. Great Place to watch Football. The owner, Hiro-san is a lovely guy and Football Mad. He can speak enough English to get by and is foreigner friendly. He is often open odd hours to accommodate matches held in different time zones.  edit
  • Paddy Macs. On BC street, just off of "gate 2" street, outside of Kadena airbase, this Irish pub is second to none for a good time. Martin, the Irish expat owner, is always a wonderful host who keeps the atmosphere lively and upbeat. Paddys also has the distinction of being the prefered drinking hole of Okinawas own Hash House Harrier group. Any true party animals Okinawa experience would be imcomplete without a night on the town with these local larrikins.  edit
  • CoCo's Curry House. A must stop for any one who likes spicy food.  edit


Naha's budget accommodations are famously cheap (as little as ¥1000 per night), but you tend to get what you pay for and some can be incredibly grotty.

  • Grace Naha Hotel. Small family-run guesthouse. Inexpensive, incredibly friendly and spotlessly clean.
  • Sora House. Inexpensive, friendly hostel near Miebashi station. Staff speaks little English, but are very friendly and helpful. Staff seems to arrange trips around Okinawa; if you get a chance to attend to one, you probably should.
  • Base Okinawa, 1-17-5 Wakasa (15-20 minute walk from the Kencho-mae monorail station), 868-2968, [11]. checkout: 11am. Ten dorm rooms and a couple of lounge rooms make this a really nice place to stay when on a budget. There is also free Internet, laundry, bikes, etc. If you want to get there, walk up the street from the Kencho-mae monorail station towards Wakasa. After passing Wakasa-dori, turn left at the first crossing without a traffic light (there's a very small sign there that says "BASE"). 1,000yen.  edit
  • Hotel Marine West Naha, 1-8-15 Kumoji, Naha (Near the Asahibashi monorail station), 098-863-0055, [12]. checkout: 11:00. A business hotel that is suitable for divers, it has drying space for scuba diving gear and free parking. There is free internet and washing machine (200 yen) and drier (200 yen). Room prices include Japanese breakfast. Staff are friendly though they speak Japanese only. 3,500 yen. (26.2132,127.6728) edit
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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  1. capital city of Okinawa, Japan.


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