city in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Asia > East Asia > Japan > Okinawa > Southern Okinawa

Southern Okinawa (沖縄南部 Okinawa-nanbu), also known by its historical name Shimajiri (島尻), is the southernmost part of Okinawa Island.

Gushikawa Castle Ruins

Understand

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Map of Southern Okinawa

Southern Okinawa covers the cities of Itoman (糸満), Tomigusuku (豊見城), Nanjo (南城), Haebaru (南風原), Yonabaru (与那原) and Yaese (八重瀬). The capital Naha and the Kerama Islands are also administratively part of the area, but are covered in their own articles.

Throughout its history, the city of Itoman has been an invaluable port city in Okinawa with a thriving fishing industry. Even today, many of the city's biggest festivals revolve around fishing.

The city's trajectory and notability completely changed in early 1945 when it became one of the bloodiest battlefields in the American invasion of Okinawa. Thousands of Japanese, Americans, and native Okinawans died here. The city now contains multiple sites dedicated to World War II, the Battle of Okinawa and its effects on the island and the people, and peace. The museums here are considered must-visit sites by many visitors to Okinawa.

Tourist information sites

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All are Japanese-only.

Get in

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There are many buses that travel to Itoman from Naha.

Get around

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Once you get to Itoman Bus Terminal, you can then transfer to a bus that will take you to your destination within the city. Bus #82 goes to the Peace Park (Heiwa Kinendo Iriguchi Bus Stop) and passes the Himeyuri Peace Museum (107 and 108 pass the Himeyuri Peace Museum but do not go to the Peace Park). Check Bus Map Okinawa for bus routes.

 
Okinawa Peace Park
  • 1 Himeyuri Peace Museum (ひめゆり平和祈念資料館, himeyuri heiwa kinen shiryōkan), 671-1 Aza-Ihara, +81 98-997-2101. 9:00-17:00. Students from two girls' 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. The museum gives voice to the victims and provides real stories and faces that help give the victims some humanity as opposed to being statistics. ¥300 for adults.
  • 2 Gushikawa Castle Ruins (具志川城跡). Quiet ruins near Cape Kyan. It is unknown who built the castle, but excavation results indicate it was used from the end of the 12th century to the mid-15th century. Free.
  • 3 Konpaku-no-To (魂魄之塔).

Peace Park

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Okinawa Peace Park (平和祈念公園, heiwa kinen kōen) 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.

  • 4 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 the front as well as the back. It is a very interesting park.
  • 5 Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum (沖縄県立平和祈念資料館, okinawa kenritsu heiwa kinen shiryōkan), 614-1 Mabuni, +81 98-997-3844. Tuesday-Sunday 9:00-17:00, closed Dec. 29-Jan. 3. Museum describes the Battle of Okinawa. ¥300 for adults.
  • 6 Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall (平和祈念堂 heiwa kinendō), 448-2 Mabuni Itoman, +81 98-997-3011. A separate memorial, marked by a high tower, with the Peace Memorial Statue and exhibitions of Japanese artists. ¥500 for adults.

Other

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  • 7 Seifa-utaki, 知念久手堅 Nanjo. In Nanjo, rock formations including a natural corridor through a giant boulder leading to a point overlooking Kudaka Island (久高島), was once worshipped as the "island of the gods".
  • 8 Cape Kyan. The southern most point of Okinawa Island.
  • 9 Okinawa World (おきなわワールド), 1336, Tamagusuku Maekawa, Nanjo-city (30-minute drive from Naha Airport; 8-minute drive from Okinawa Expressway, Haebaru Minami Interchange; 1 minute walk from Gyokusendo-mae (玉泉洞前) bus stop on bus routes 51, 54, 81, 82 & 83), +81 98-949-7421. 09:00-18:00. Theme park based on Okinawa wildlife and culture, built alongside a stunning natural cavern. Walk for nearly 1 km underground and gape at the limestone formations; see snake handlers abusing habu (the local poisonous reptile) for your amusement; admire the skill and energy of the folk dancers and musicians; try your hand at folk craft; enjoy the local beer and liquor; and a few other fun attractions. ¥1100-1600 for adults, ½ price for children.
  • 10 DMM Kariyushi Aquarium, Toyosaki 3-35, Tomigusuku (5km south of Naha AIrport). Daily 9:00-20:00. Okinawa's second aquarium, not quite as immense as Churaumi up in Motobu but much more easily accessible. Includes a rather sad zoo where animals are kept in inadequately small enclosures. ¥2,400/1,200 adult/child.
  • 1 Ryukyu Glass Village. Here you can try making your own Ryukyu Glass items, such as dishes, vases, and jewelry along with other things like candles. Reservations are required in order to participate.

Events

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  • Peaceful Illumination. Mid-Dec to early Jan. An annual illumination event that always has a peace-related theme.
  • 1 Kenmin Steak (県民ステーキ). A local steak restaurant. Reservations can be made online or by phone.
  • 2 Restaurant&Bar PORTO. A pizzeria.

Drink

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Sleep

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Go next

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Routes through Southern Okinawa
NahaTomigusuku  N   E  YaeseNanjo
NahaHaebaruYaese  N   S  END


This city travel guide to Southern Okinawa is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.