Naha, the capital and largest city of Okinawa Prefecture, boasts a unique Japanese culture. As the region's transportation hub, Naha connects travellers with other parts of Okinawa, Japan and Asia. Consequently, Okinawans have grown accustomed to openly sharing their distinctive customs with visitors from all over the world – right down to their very own dialect, Uchinaguchi.Find Cruises Sailing to This Port
Put Shuri Castle at the top of your list of places to go during your stay in Naha. This former palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom, of which Naha was the capital for four centuries, is not only one of the most beautiful castles but also one of the most important historical sites in the city. Even though centuries of wars and fires have destroyed Shuri Castle many times over, most recently in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the meticulous reconstruction that was completed in 1992 is certainly a sight to see.
Try out Naha's boating and fishing excursions, clearly one of this port city's most popular tourist activities. If you arrive during the Naha Hari festival, you might be able to catch one of the famous dragon boat races.
Or you could discover your inner 'karate kid'. Naha, a major centre for the martial arts, is home to a style known as Naha-Te, or 'Naha-hand', which eventually blended with others to become the foundation for today's karate-do.
The people of Okinawa perhaps best express their uniqueness in their sometimes spicy and often obscurely named cuisine. Don't worry – even native Japanese speakers can have trouble deciphering an Okinawan menu. Try, if you can, to order one of their original stir fry or tempura dishes. Overall, your best bet for restaurants and eateries are the Kokusai-dori and Shintoshin areas.
Kokusai-dori, known as the heart of Naha, is not only one of the best areas for food and entertainment, but also one of the best places to shop. From one end of this main thoroughfare to the other, you'll find an eclectic mix of high fashion boutiques, souvenir stalls and army surplus outlets selling American military leftovers. If you happen to be experiencing shopping centre withdrawal, you can get your fix – all nine storeys of it – in central Naha.
On Okinawa, the yen is the national monetary unit. It is important to note that most cash machines in Japan do not accept cards issued outside of Japan. However, cash machines at post offices allow you to withdraw cash with foreign credit cards. Traveller's cheques in yen or dollars are easily exchanged for cash at banks and are accepted in many larger establishments, but not at small shops or restaurants.
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Learn more about this port city with these tourist information guides.