Speaking of Okinawa, it is the perfect destination to enjoy the stunning beaches. While Okinawa’s top beaches aren’t in the capital city, Naha, there is one beach for you to enjoy a last-minute swim in the warmer months or watersports. Plus, Okinawa’s highest-ranked shrine is just atop the cliff next to the beach!
Naminoue Beach (波の上ビーチ), located in the city’s west, is just a 20-minute walk from Kokusai-Dōri Street and a 15-minute walk from the Prefectural Office Station (県庁前駅). And it is only a 10-minute drive from Naha Airport!
Of course, there are changing rooms and shower facilities for you to utilize.
The Water Sports that You Can Do at Naminoue Beach
Besides the beach activities and barbeque, walk around the park close to the beach to meet and greet the local stray cats! Just note that while you are most welcome to become friends with them, giving food to the strays is forbidden.
Important: To our female readers, it is not recommended to head to Naminuoe Beach at night by yourself. The red light district is not far away from the beach.
Naminoue Beach’s Swimming Season and Facility Charges
- Naminoue Beach is open for swimming from 9 am to 6 pm from April to October.
- In July and August, the beach is open until 7 pm.
- The cost is
- 100 yen to use the shower facility per 5 minutes. Note the water isn’t heated.
- 200 yen for coin-operated lockers
Naminoue Shrine (波上宮)
Just like its name, Naminoue Shrine is located just next to Naminuou Beach, atop a cliff that oversees the sea. While the shrine doesn’t have a large precinct, it was the top-ranked shrine on the island when Okinawa was known as the Ryūkyū kingdom a few centuries ago.
Apparently, the kings of the Ryūkyū kingdom used to perform rituals at Naminoue Shrine in January to pray for the country’s peace and prosperity.
In addition, when the locals set sail, they would look up to the shrine and pray for safe sailing. And when they entered the port, they thanked god’s blessing for a safe trip from the boat.
The Origin of Naminoue Shrine
A long time ago, the Okinawans believed that a god’s world existed on the other side of the horizon. So people prayed to the god, Niraikanai (ライカナイ), for happiness at the top of the cliff. A shrine was then built on this place of worship, which is the Naminoue Shrine now.
As a traveler who knows a little about the Okinawan culture, the weirdest fact about Naminoue Shrine is the gods enshrined here. Instead of a place worshipping Utaki (御嶽), a religion derived in Okinawa, Kumano Sansho Gongen (熊野三所権現) from the three Kumano Shrines are enshrined.
That said, the torii gate at the back of the main worship hall is a gate for Utaki. So the shrine isn’t completely just about the Kumano Sansho Gongen.
According to the shrine’s legend, Kumano Gongen was enshrined here due to an oracle. Once upon a time, a fisherman found a mysterious shining stone that could speak. So the fisherman prayed to the stone for a good fish catch, which was answered.
The gods became aware of the existence of the stone, and all came after it. When the fisherman escaped to the cliff, he received an oracle to build a shrine and enshrine the Kumano Gongen to protect the country. The oracle was then conveyed to the king, and Naminoue Shrine was erected.
What to Pray for at Naminoue Shrine
Naminoue Shrine used to be where people prayed for safe delivery, safe sailing, a good fish catch or harvest, the well‐being of one’s family, and much more.
Nowadays, the shrine is best known as a spot to be blessed with good luck in romantic relationship-related matters. This is why Naminoue Shrine receives many female pilgrims and sells many cute and gorgeous Omamori amulets nowadays.
What to See and Do at Naminoue Shrine
You will pass through two torii gates to arrive at Naminoue Shrine’s main worship hall. As the car park is between the two gates, remember to check out the first torii gate you would have driven through. This chocolate-color torii gate isn’t just unique in color but looks magnificent!
The main worship hall beyond the second torii gate is another astonishing architecture in the precinct. You will notice the building restored in 1953 has many Okinawan elements too.
Because Naha receives many international tourists these days, their fortune slips come in four languages. So even if you don’t understand Japanese, you can still understand the Omikuji you have drawn at Naminoue Shrine.
On the way back, you can also stop by the Temple of Confucius (孔子廟) and Gokokoji Temple (護国寺) just outside of Naminoue Shrine’s torii gate.
Naminoue Shrine’s Opening Hours and Access Information
- Naminoue Shrine can be accessed 24/7. But the shrine will likely be crowded from late morning to late afternoon.
- The shrine’s office is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm.
- The shrine is a 15-minute walk from the Prefectural Office Station (県庁前駅).
- You can also take a bus from the Prefectural Office Station and get off at Nishinjyō (西武門).
- The free car park has around 20 cars if you plan to drive.
Tip: You can get to Naminoue Beach using the staircases from Naminoue Shrine.
Discover Other Attractions in Naha
Your visit to Naha obviously won’t stop at Naminoue Beach and Naminoue Shrine. The city is 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.