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Novotel Okinawa Naha

40 Matsugawa, Naha, 902-0062 Okinawa, Japan
+81 (0)98 887 1111
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The capital of Okinawa, Naha is the economic, political and cultural centre of Japan’s southernmost prefecture. Novotel Okinawa Naha is conveniently located near many of Naha’s historic and modern attractions.

The vermillion-red Shuri Castle (Shurijo) features exquisite architecture and stonework from the medieval era. This former palace of the Ryukyu Dynasty has seen a rich history, from a royal residence to almost total destruction during the Battle of Okinawa. Reconstruction began in 1992 and the castle was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Shuri Castle Park is a 15-minute walk from the hotel.

Founded over 130 years ago, this maker of awamori (Okinawan distilled rice spirit) was named after the spring near Shuri Castle’s Zuisen Gate. This distillery specialises in kusu – awamori that has aged for more than three years. See how this beverage of Ryukyu nobility is made at Zuisen Distillery, about 5 minutes by car from the hotel.

Just west of Shurijo is a sacred place for prayer, dominated by the Great Akagi (bishop wood) Tree in a mystical forest. Legend has it that a god visits the divine tree once a year to listen to people’s prayers. Most of the ancient akagi trees around Shurijo were destroyed during WWII, but this is one of six that survived.

Ryukyu royalty were laid to rest at Tamaudun, one of three mausoleums of the ancient kingdom. Built in 1501 by King Sho Shin, Tamaudun is a World Heritage Site. There is a small museum in the reception building. The compound is less than 5 minutes away by car.

Okinawa is known for its pottery (yachimun in the local dialect), and the most famous type is from Tsuboya district. With cobblestone paths, red-tiled homes, stone walls and praying spots, this street transports passersby to 17th-century Naha. Browse antique stores, traditional diners and pottery studios selling yachimun shisa (guardian lion-dogs). Tsuboya is 11 minutes from the hotel by car.

Okinawa used to be known for its naturally dyed cloth (bingata). That changed after WWII, when synthetic dyes replaced plant- and insect-based pigments. To keep the craft alive, Koto Yamaoka founded Shuri Ryusen to train future generations in this traditional art form. The shop sells handmade gifts, tapestries, kimonos and obis. The studio is 2 minutes by car from the hotel.

A 5 km stone walkway (ishidatami-michi) at one time ran downhill from Shuri Castle to the gardens of Shikina-en. Today only 300 m of that path remains. Find it in Kinjo-cho, on the southern slope of Shuri Park.

The second home of the Ryukyu royal family, this large complex features a palace, lake, landscaped gardens and centuries-old stone pathways. Heavily damaged during WWII, the royal resort took around 20 years to rebuild. It is a 12-minute car ride from the hotel.

This massive complex celebrates the region’s natural history, culture and art. Its design pays homage to Okinawan castles, with a leafy park surrounding the buildings. The museum complex is 10 minutes by car from the hotel.