Okinawa City 沖縄中心部
Okinawan culture blended with Americana, plus oriental reggae and sun and sand
Okinawa City is very different from the forested, mountainous north and the rolling hills and sugar cane of the south. You will find a strong American flavor mixing with the Okinawan and Japanese cultures because of the concentration of the U.S. bases in the area. Be sure to check out all the stores specializing in used military goods.
But this is Okinawa , and there are still castle ruins to visit and sun-soaked beaches to enjoy.
- The exciting blend of Okinawan culture and Americana
- Okinawan music on the streets and in the bars
- The Nakagusuku Castle ruins
How to Get There
You can get to the city by bus or car.
To get to Okinawa City by bus, take bus 27 on the Yakena Line from Naha Bus Terminal and get off at Goya. The bus ride takes about an hour.
By car, simply head north on Route 58 for about an hour.
To visit Nakagusuku Castle , take bus 30 from the Naha Bus Terminal to Nakagusuku Shogakko-mae. It is a one-hour bus ride followed by a 30-minute uphill walk to the castle.
To reach the castle by car, take the Okinawa Expressway to the Kita-Nakagusuku exit and follow the signs to the castle. In light traffic, the drive takes about 30 minutes.
Home of oriental reggae
Although it is the second-largest metropolis in Okinawa, Okinawa City only came into being in 1974, when the towns of Koza and Misato were merged into one.
The U.S. military presence is still strong, with more than 20,000 American service members, family members, and Japanese employees living or working at nearby Kadena Air Base.
During the occupation, Koza was an exciting, exotic place, with bars, restaurants, and clubs catering to the servicemen, and much of the excitement remains.
Okinawan music is distinctly different from Japanese. Some have described it as oriental reggae. And Okinawa City is the best place to hear it.
The legendary musician Shoukichi Kina is based here, and his fusion of Okinawan and Western music can still be heard in the clubs and on the streets today, sometimes by Kina himself.
Be sure to check out Park Avenue Street, Palmyra Street, and Gate 2 Street. There is a tourist information center catering especially to foreign visitors on Palmyra Street.
Shadows of the past
There are many sites of historical interest in central Okinawa. One of the most impressive is the 15th century Nakagusuku Castle , a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000.
The walls, many of which are still standing, are so thick that Commodore Perry remarked on his visit in 1853 that they seemed strong enough to withstand cannon fire.