Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Shikina-en – Okinawa’s World Heritage Garden

In addition to the buildings in the Shurijō Castle Park, Shikina-en Garden (識名園) was another spot that was registered as a part of the World Heritage, Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryūkyū (琉球王国のグスク及び関連遺産群) in 2000. The villa complex, also a designated Special National place of Scenery Beauty, has architecture and gardens that fuse the Chinese, Japanese, and Ryūkyū cultures.

Shikina-en was completed in 1799 as Ryūkyū’s imperial family’s biggest villa. Because it is located south of Shurijō Castle, it was also called Nanen (南苑). The villa was used as a reception facility for the Chinese envoys.


Unfortunately, the original Shikina-en was destroyed in World War Two. The current garden we have now is a rebuilt one that took around 20 years from 1975.

But don’t worry. The restoration work was completed with care. The buildings were reproduced down to the smallest details, and the stone monument has been remade from the original rubbings.

While it doesn’t look like it on Google Maps, Shikina-en’s Shinjiike Pond (心字池) was dug to form the character ‘Heart’ (心).

Nonetheless, the Japanese strolling garden is just gorgeous to walk around in. The Chinese-style pavilion, Rokkaku-dō (六角堂), which is connected with the rest of the garden by an arch bridge, is another highlight of the garden.


The Udun (御殿 (うどぅん))

The wooden building with red tiles that stands out in the park is called Udun. It is the living quarter of Shikina-en and was constructed in the architectural style for those with a high social status in the Ryūkyū Dynasty.


The 15 rooms in Udun were designed differently to suit the guest’s social status, and the location of the rooms is important too.

Similar to the room with the best view in a hotel that is the most expensive, the top three ranked rooms enjoy the best garden view. The size of the windows in these rooms was carefully calculated according to the average height at the time for the kings to appreciate what the garden could offer fully.

Ikutokusen Spring (育徳泉) and Kankōdai Pavilion (勧耕台)

Another spot to pay attention to is the Ikutokusen Spring. It is said that even if the water in the surrounding wells and rivers dried up, the Ikutokusen would still have water flowing out! If you look carefully, you might spot a few crabs, shrimps, or small fish (=゚ω゚)ノ. The wording on the two monuments next to the spring was written by the Chinese envoys in 1800 and 1838, respectively.

At the top of the hill, the Kankōdai Pavilion is the spot you want to head to for a clear view of Naha‘s cityscape. Apparently, the pavilion was built for the envoys to understand how big Ryūkyū is. Because many thought the kingdom had limited land, they were shocked that they couldn’t see the sea on the other side of the land when they stood at Kankōdai.

The word ‘Kankō’ means the Ryūkyū kingdom took agriculture as the country’s base. Again, the wording on the monument next to the pavilion was left by a Chinese envoy in 1838. It is said that the envoy was impressed by the endless paddy fields that spread below.

☛ Remember to bring a bottle of water in summer for heatstroke prevention. There are no vending machines or cafés in Shikina-en. A pair of comfortable shoes are also recommended.
☛ The only toilet facility is at the entrance.

Important: Eating and drinking are not allowed in Shikina-en, except for water.

How Long Does It Take to Explore Shikina-en Garden

Most people take around 60 to 90 minutes to fully enjoy Shikina-en. But 30 to 45 minutes might be enough if you are in a rush.

Shikina-en’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • Shikina-en is open daily except for Wednesdays from
    • 9 am to 6 pm from April to September
    • 9 am to 5:30 pm from October to March
    • The last admission is 30 minutes before the garden closes for the day.
  • The admission fee is
    • 400 yen for adults
    • 200 yen for junior high school students and younger.
  • You can take Naha Bus’s (那覇バス) routes 2, 3, 4, 5, and 14 from the city center and get off at Shikinaen-mae (識名園前).

Discover Other Attractions in Naha

Click the photo for more travel ideas in Naha!

Okinawa’s capital, Naha, is a city filled with a wide range of attractions for you to discover! But which attractions are worth your time?

If that is the question on your mind, our Naha City article has got you covered! Whether it is shopping on the famous Kokusai-dōri Street or visiting a shrine located atop a cliff next to a local beach, you will find all the information you need in the article (=゚ω゚)ノ.

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