Okinawa’s capital city
Naha is the capital of Okinawa prefecture, located on the southwestern coast of Honto, the main island of this subtropical archipelago. With 320,000 inhabitants, it is Okinawa archipelago's biggest city. Naha, as the gateway to the area, combines a rich historical past with an interesting cultural blending.
- by plane, serving numerous destinations in the area, as well as many Asian countries;
- by numerous boats and ferries serving Ryukyu archipelago’s islands, and even some of Japan’s main ports; and,
- by monorail 🚝 train (the only train on the Okinawa archipelago!), serving the city itself since 2003, with the Yui Monorail and its fifteen stations between the airport and Shuri.
Naha was established Okinawa’s capital in 1879 after Ryukyu Kingdom’s annexation by Japan. The former capital Shuri is located a couple kilometers east.
Downtown Naha offers a surprising atmosphere. The long main street Kokusai-dori somehow reminds of a little Osaka, with its modern urban landscape shaped by the reconstructions after the Battle of Okinawa (spring 🌸 1945). The presence of many American soldiers is a visible sign of another legacy of WWII: the US military bases - still a touchy subject for the inhabitants.
Kokusai-dori houses many souvenir shops, but also, more importantly, Makishi Public Market, nicknamed "Naha’s kitchen" where visitors can treat themselves with the area’s most delicious specialty dishes.
However, do not expect to find more traditional districts in Naha.
For those interested in video games, a part of downtown Naha was faithfully reconstituted in Sega’s game Ryu ga Gotoku / Yakuza 3 (for PlayStation 3), where the beginning of its story is set.