Southern Okinawa, aka ‘Southern Comfort’, is arguably the best place to live in Okinawa. It isn’t shrouded in the concrete walls of the city and yet there are plenty of things to do, including exploring cultural attractions, shopping, singing your heart out at karaoke and catching up with friends over a cuppa at a gorgeous beachside cafe. It’s where you can still find Okinawans who speak Uchinaguchi and it’s also remote enough to plough down a lonely elderly Okinawan on a push bike late at night on its winding coastal roads. It has a great mix of urban attractions blended with a rural beach setting, fringed by sugar cane and friendly smiling locals!
Please use the links below to find information on our truly superb south!
- Ozato Ear, Nose and Throat clinic in Ozato off the 77 near the police station has a doctor that speaks English.
- Alba Okinawa clinic off the 82 and behind the San A in Itoman, is a ladies clinic with English speaking doctors that prescribe the pill.
- Southern Hills Entertainment in Haebaru includes an arcade, ice-skating rink, and bowling alley.
- Southernplex Cinema in Haebaru (across from Jusco). Screens most mainstream films in English.
- Tomato Karaoke, one of the most popular karaoke venues in Okinawa with a large selection of English songs, has branches in Haebaru and Itoman.
- Tsutaya DVD, Music and Video rental stores in Itoman, Haebaru, Yonabaru.
- Jusco Shopping Centre in Haebaru has a supermarket and many other stores. It is the main hub for the Southern JETs.
- San A is the most common Shopping Centre in Okinawa: Shiozaki City, Tsukazan City, Wing City are the main large complexes which also have an electronics section, cosmetics section, clothing, household items, hair salon, bookstores, bakeries, restaurants.
- Ashibina Outlet Mall in Tomigusuku, is a large up-scale fashion mall, with a decent international food court.
- Yamada Denki, near Ashibina in Tomigusuku, is a large electronics store.
Health & Beauty
- Hinoki Spa and Café in Yaese-Cho. Follow the signs from the 507.
- Inomae Rock Spa, on the 331 in Yaese-Cho.
- “The Body Shop” at Haebaru Jusco.
- La Reve Hair Salon at Shiozaki and Tsukazan San A complexes. They are very friendly and welcoming to foreigners and do speak a little bit of English.
- YuYu Hair Salon in Itoman, has an owner that speaks English and loves speaking with foreigners.
- Waxing – Despite a lengthly search to find a waxist in the south, none were to be found. There are a few in Chatan (block 3) – however, visit them at your own risk, as they will cause bruising and bleeding.
- Sky 8 Sports – New Large Gym & Pool with classes. Located on the 331 near the Sky Lanes bowling alley and batting cages (this is in Oroku on the boarder of Block 4 & 5).
Restaurants & Cafes
- Hamabe no Chaya Café in Tamagusku (Nanjo-Shi) off the 331, is a rustic little beachside café with ocean views and gentle music. There is also a restaurant under the same ownership located just down the road at the top of a long flight of stairs.
- Café Kurukuma in Chinen off the 86 is a great South East Asian restaurant with spectacular ocean views atop the mountains of Chinen.
- Café Yabusachi in Tamagusku, open for lunch, has an assortment of pasta and rice dishes and a good view. Meals include all-you-can-eat salad.
- Goen Yakiniku in Itoman has a fantastic English menu and all-you-can-eat for Y2,000.
- Umanchu in Itoman has the best tofu.
- Azuma Café in Kochinda on the 507, open till midnight, has an eclectic Victorian retro-vintage décor, with a reasonably extensive menuJ
- Mensoree Soba in Kochinda has inexpensive Okinawan dishes and a friendly staff.
- Charlie’s Restaurant in Nanjo is near the intersection of the 86 and the 131, has both Japanese and Western style food.
- Shamu Thai restaurant in Tamagusku off the 46 has very good Thai food.
- Chinsuko store, in Tsukazan. Made fresh.
- The kaiten zushi restaurant at the Jusco in Haebaru offers a good variety of inexpensive sushi.
- Vegetarica, off the 48 in Tamagusuku, is a cozy vegetarian café with a good view of the surrounding countryside.
- Mibaru beach in Tamagusuku is a natural beach with interesting rock formations. Glass bottom boat rides depart there daily. Other beach activities are available.
- Odo Coast in Itoman is a natural beach with great snorkelling.
- Nashiro Beach in Itoman is regarded as the best natural beach in the South.
- BiBi beach in Itoman is a man-made beach with barbecue facilities and friendly lifeguards who speak English.
- Azama San-San beach in Chinen is another man-made beach with barbecue facilities. Ferries depart daily for Kudaka Island.
- Gushikami Beach Picnic Grounds has a nature walk that winds up over the dunes and through the trees.
Cultural & Heritage Sites
- Heiwakinen Peace Memorial Park and Okinawa Peace Museum offers a sobering look at the events of the battle of Okinawa (English provided). The memorial, called the Cornerstone of Peace, lists the names of everyone from both sides of the war who were killed in the battle, and there are separate monuments from each prefecture on the hill behind the memorial. There is also a beautiful walk with breathtaking views of the ocean.
- Himeyuri Monument is dedicated to the young women who acted as nurses during the war, many of whom lost their lives.
- At the Ryukyu Glass Factory, in Itoman, you can view glass blowing and purchase Ryukyu products at a reasonable price.
- Cape Kyan is the southernmost tip of Okinawa and the site where many Okinawans jumped over the cliffs during WW2 to escape a feared capture by the Americans.
- Okinawa World Cave Park in Tamagusuku contains a 5-km long limestone cave with interesting stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave-type things. It also features a cultural theme park where you can see traditional Ryukyuan pottery, glass-blowing, fabric dyeing, and Eisa dancing, as well as the Habu Museum, which is devoted to Okinawa’s much-feared poisonous snake.
- Sefa-Utaki in Chinen, formerly the main shrine for Okinawan religious rites, is a world heritage listed cultural site with English translation provided. An Utakirefers to any sacred grove of trees, a reflection of Okinawans traditional animistic beliefs. After confirmation at the alter, royal priestesses once exectued secular power comparative to the Ryukyuan kings who were their brothers, fathers or uncles. The main alter is located beyond the sacred spring, inside a limestone cave with stunning views across the Pacific ocean and out to Kudaka-jima. Okinawans still frequent the shrine for religious and cultural purposes. Heading east along the 331, turn left just shy of the post office in Chinen.
- Navy Underground HQ – off route 7 in Tomigusuku, is the site where many Japanese soldiers committed suicide during the closing days of WW2.
- The hospital trenches used during WW2 in Haebaru are due to open to the public for the first time in June 2007.
Nature Walks, Parks & Recreation
- Gushikami track behind the Gushikami Gym, is 600m-3kms depending on your route. This takes you through the dunes in a forested environment and down to the beach.
- Gushikami Village Athletic Centre has a track which is lit until 10 pm.
- Nishizaki Sports Park has a large swimming pool.
- Yaese-Yama in Yaese-Cho is a park commemorating the former emergency hospital shelter used during WW2. This park has great views across Yaese and many cherry blossom trees blooming in Spring.
These websites are primarily in Japanese, however viewing the pictures will give you some insight into each area. Your fellow co-workers should be able to further assist your understanding of the region by explaining the content of these websites, outlining what there is to see and the key objectives of the local councils.
- http://www.city.itoman.okinawa.jp/index_e.html – English site. Covers the Itoman City region.
- http://www.town.yaese.okinawa.jp/ – Contains limited English content. Covers the Yaese: Gushikami and Kochinda region.
- http://www.town.yonabaru.okinawa.jp/ – Contains limited English content.
Covers the Yonabaru region.