Unlike other parts of Japan, Okinawa has its own separate history, having been the independent kingdom of Ryukyu during the 15th century. Ideally located between mainland Japan and Taiwan, the small kingdom prospered and traded goods with Japan, China, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Subsequently, Okinawa developed its own unique history and culture that is evident today. On this half-day excursion, explore the city of Naha, the capital and largest city of Okinawa Prefecture, and former capital of the Ryukyu kings. Leaving the port, you will drive to Shuri Castle, the administrative center and residence of the Ryukyu royal family for over 400 years, until Okinawa became a Japanese prefecture in 1879. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle rests on a hill providing outstanding views of Naha and the sea. Surrounded by tall curved walls, the bright red castle is a mixture of Japanese and Chinese architectural styles. See the lavishly decorated Seiden (Main Hall), former venue for major affairs of state and ceremonies. You will also see the ornate Shurei Gate. Known as the Gate of Courtesy, it typifies Okinawan architecture and serves as a symbol of modern day Okinawa. Departing the castle, drive to Kokusai-dori, Naha's main street, stretching for roughly one mile through downtown. Stroll through the neighborhood on your own, exploring fashionable shops and restaurants offering local products such as exquisite bingata fabrics, colorful tsuboya-yaki pottery and awamori liquor made from long-grained rice. Reboarding your bus, return to the ship.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2.5 hours of walking that is considered strenuous at times and there are uneven surfaces and a significant number of steep steps to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and it is not considered suitable for those with mobility concerns. Shoes must be removed during the visit to the the south hall (Nanden) and the main hall of Shurijo Castle. While photography is permitted on the grounds of Shurijo Castle, none is permitted inside. The Shrijo Castle has restoration work being done and some areas may not be accessible. We suggest that you bring local currency for any purchases at the sites. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary.