At the south end of Miyako-jima, a gigantic western castle is close to the beach shore. While the idea of having a German castle constructed in Okinawa doesn’t quite make sense, the castle was built to commemorate a historical event and the virtue of the locals’ fraternity. In addition, it is the place to meet the real Berlin Wall and find the naturally formed heart-shaped rock in the sea!
Marksburg Castle’s Replicate
The German castle is a replicate of the Marksburg castle in Germany. In 1873, a German merchant ship R.J. Robertson became a typhoon victim.
Because of the rough weather conditions, the islanders couldn’t save the crew on the day of the incident. But they didn’t give up. They lit many bonfires at the shore to keep the crew’s will to live up. As soon as the weather got better, the crew was saved, and the locals took care of them for 34 days and helped them to sail back to Germany.
This was brought to the attention of the German king at the time. A monument was sent to Japan to express his appreciation of the kindness of the islanders in 1876.
Then in 1996, the Ueno German Culture Village was built near where the boat was stranded to pass on the spirit of fraternity to future generations and as a base for international exchange.
Hakuai Memorial Hall (博愛記念館)
Hakuai Memorial Hall is also known as Hakuai-Kan. It is a museum-type facility decorated like a German castle with Western armors, furniture, and artwork. There are also documentaries about the incident in 1873.
The 8th floor of Hakuai Memorial Hall is an observatory floor where you can enjoy the majestic surrounding views from 42 meters above the ground. You can see as far as the stunning Cape Higashi-Hennazaki (東平安名崎)!
From 9 am to 4 pm, you can wear German aristocratic costumes and take pictures on the castle’s first floor. In addition to costumes, accessories and wigs can be coordinated as you like.
- Renting German aristocratic costumes costs:
- 500 yen for adults
- 300 yen for junior high school students and younger
- If you don’t pay the admission fee, it will cost you 200 yen more to try on the costume.
Important: The costume rental service is currently suspended due to COVID-19.
Tip: There is an escalator for you to use to get to the 8th floor.
Kinder House (キンダーハウス)
Kinder House means ‘children’s house’ in German. Like its name, it is a spot for children to enjoy and learn about German culture.
Materials from Grimm’s fairy tales and German toys are exhibited. There is also a corner where your children can play with wooden toys and a library where they can read fairy tales.
Furthermore, the real Berlin Wall is on display, along with related materials and photographs from that time.
Sea Sky Hakuai (シースカイ博愛)
Sea Sky Hakuai is a Semi-submersible underwater sightseeing boat. It is the perfect attraction for those who don’t want to get wet but still want to tour and observe the marine life in Miyako Island‘s beautiful sea.
It can be boarded from the pier near Hakuai Fishing Port. Because the port is also a spot to feed the sea turtles, you will get a higher chance to spot the cute sea turtles while onboard.
The boat departs hourly from 9 am to 4 pm, excluding 12 pm. The cost of the 45-minute boat ride is:
- 2,000 yen for adults
- 1,000 yen for elementary and junior high school students
You can translate the official website HERE using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.
Ueno German Culture Village’s Heart-Shaped Rock
A promenade is built around the beach shore around the village. Before high tide, see if you can spot a rock with a hollow heart shape in the sea. The heart shape is formed naturally by sea erosion and has become the most popular spot for pictures on the village’s ground.
Tip: If you choose to board the Sea Sky Hakuai, you can get to even closer to this rock!
Ueno German Culture Village’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information
- Ueno German Culture Village is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm except on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- The last admission is at 5 pm.
- The admission fee Hakuai Memorial Hall is:
- 750 yen for adults
- 400 yen for children
- The admission fee for Kinder House (キンダーハウス) is:
- 210 yen for adults
- 100 yen for children
- You can also purchase the Combo ticket for:
- 850 yen for adults
- 400 yen for children
- The village is around a 15-minute drive from Miyako Airport (宮古空港).
- You can also take Miyako Kyōei Bus’s (宮古協栄バス) Shinzato Miyaguni LIne (新里宮国線) and get off at Ueno Doitsu Mura (うえのドイツ村).
Discover Other Awesome Attractions on Miyako Island
On top of the breathtaking beaches, Miyako Island also has a couple of attractions in other categories. There are, of course, farmers’ markets and food-related spots on the island that await your visit!
For more information, refer to our article on Miyako Island (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.