The beautiful gardens of Shikina-en are probably the best known landscaped gardens in Okinawa, located slightly over one kilometer south of Shuri Castle, as the crow flies, i.e. very close to the centre of Naha.
They were laid out in 1799 and were intended to adorn one of the residences of the royal Shô family of the Ryukyu kingdom. The inside of the wooden palace can still be visited.
They were entirely destroyed during the battle of Okinawa at the end of WWII and subsequently underwent renovation work over a span of about two decades, starting in 1975. The total cost of the works has been assessed at about eight hundred million yens. It was, along with other local treasures, listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000.
Covering a surface area of 4.2 hectares, Shikina-en surrounds a large pond with two islets in the middle, one of which harbours the famous hexagonal pavilion. It also features some remarkably elegant stone bridges that connect the banks.
A stroll through the gardens will lead you to the heart of a charming little forest where you can witness the amusing effects of the tropical touch of the Okinawa climate, as well as a suprizing mix of Japanese and Chinese architecture quite typical of the Ryukyu archipelago.
Because of the comparatively small number of tourists in Shikina-en, visitors can enjoy a quiet tour of the site and give themselves over to a feeling of peacefulness in the very heart of Naha.
Shikina-en photo gallery
Shikina-en by Kanpai community
Must see around: Okinawa attractions
By bus -- No.2, 5 or 14 (20 minutes and ¥230 / ~US$ 2.10 from the center of Naha)
By car or taxi -- Approximately 10 minutes (without traffic) from the city center. Address: 421-7 Maaji, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 902-0072
From April to September: 9am - 5:30pm
From October to March: 9am - 5pm
Closed on Wednesdays
Adults : ¥300 / ~US$ 2.70
Children : ¥100 / ~US$ 0.90
Official website (in Japanese)