There are many legends about the beginning of Ryukyu in Southern Okinawa, and the nature behind the stories still remains here. Let’s trace such nature spots on this trip. The trip begins with the panoramic views. The scent of green trees and cool sea breeze will ease your body and soul at the end.
Go around in Nanjo city, which offers much nature, on this southern trip. After crossing Nirai Kanai Bridge with a view of the blue ocean, you will arrive at Sefa Utaki. The most sacred place of Ryukyu will ease your mind. Drive 15 minutes from there and have a lunch at the restaurant Yamanochaya Rakusui. Passing by the road to Ojima Island, turning right to leave the seaside road, and head to Okinawa World. On the opposite side, there is a forest called Valley of Gangara which was formed when a cave collapsed.
1. NIRAI KANAI BRIDGE
Overlook a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean from this bridge. You can see Kudaka Island, so called God’s Island, beyond the ocean. As parking on the bridge is prohibited, please stay at the observatory to enjoy the view. Although it is one bridge, there are actually two names on it. The one on the landward side is named Nirai Bridge, and the ocean side is Kanai Bridge. Nirai Kanai means a sacred land, which is believed to exist beyond the sea. Enjoy the superb view while wondering the mysterious world.
2. SEFA UTAKI
This place is one of seven Utaki, which is the sanctuaries created by Amamikiyo, the Goddess of Ryukyu Kaibyaku (Okinawan legend). The inaugural ceremony of the highest rank pythoness “Kikoe-okimi” is believed to have held here. This is the most sacred place in Okinawa that worshipped by many people today. It was registered as a World Heritage in 2000. Getting through Sangui, the worship site made of two huge rocks, you can see Kudaka Island.
3. YAMANOCHAYA RAKUSUI
The restaurant with stone steps surrounded by flowers is located in the middle of a mountain. After entering, you will see a natural rock face first. It creates a distinctive atmosphere. A feature of the menu is healthy local foods using fresh ingredients, which is loved by many women. A beautiful ocean spreads out of the windows.
“Yamanochaya Rakusui” Official Website*Only in Japanese.
4. OKINAWA WORLD
This is a theme park that presents the local history, culture and nature and that has a main attraction of 5 kilometer long cave Gyokusendo. A beautiful town of Ryukyu Kingdom era is re-created in the castle town area by relocating more than a hundred year-old houses. At this area, you can experience traditional crafts such as Bingata and making paper. Do not miss the Super Eisa show which is the mix of traditional Eisa dance and Kachashi dance (performed 4 times a day).
5. VALLEY OF GANGALA
The cave with a river and forest called Valley of Gangala was formed when a cave collapsed tens thousand years ago. “Gangala” means the sound of throw stones by ancestors. Many stone tools and fossils have been discovered here, and there is a site that the skeletons of Minatogawa Man, prehistoric people of Okinawa, were found nearby. Rock formation, huge stalactites and a 20 meter high banyan are must-see.
THE VIEWS FROM A GLASS BOAT LOOKS JUST LIKE A NATURAL AQUARIUM
Mibaru beach is a primitive, hideaway beach with easy access
The natural Mibaru beach has a 2 kilometer stretch of white sands.
Although it has very clear, shallow water that children can play, please watch for your safety near the water. Showers and locker rooms are available in a marine center at this beach. The most popular activity here is a glass boat which you can see through the water.
In this natural aquarium, clownfish, butterfly fish, blue damselfish, filefish can be seen.
It is a relaxing beach with easy access.
IS THERE A REMOTE ISLAND WELL KNOWN FOR TEMPURA?!
You can get an insider’s view of seamen in Ojima Island. Ojima Island is a small remote island of 1.6 kilometers in circumference that connected to the main island and accessible by car. Along the road by the bridge, there are parlors, restaurants, fish stores and so on. The most popular food among tourists here is Tempura. In Okinawa, Tempura is considered as a snack. Eating Tempura of fish, squid, seaweed and sweet potato while looking at the ocean is the way of enjoy in this island. Since many of the local are seamen, Ojima Haarii held on May 5 on Lunar Calendar is a very exciting event. Haarii is an event to pray for a good catch and a safe voyage and holds a boat race using boats called Haryusen. Haarii day is the most exciting day of the year.