Skating rink offers a taste of winter on tropical Okinawa

Travel
Those looking to escape the winter heat of Okinawa, Japan, can visit the ice-skating rink at Sports World Southern Hill, which is open year-round. Jessica Bidwell/Stars and Stripes
From Stripes.com
Those looking to escape the winter heat of Okinawa, Japan, can visit the ice-skating rink at Sports World Southern Hill, which is open year-round. Jessica Bidwell/Stars and Stripes

Skating rink offers a taste of winter on tropical Okinawa

by: Jessica Bidwell | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: December 28, 2016

It’s hard to get into the holiday spirit on a tropical island. Decorated palm trees don’t exactly jingle the bells of many Americans.

Servicemembers on Okinawa looking for a taste of winter might consider an outing to Sports World Southern Hill just off the expressway in Naha. It has the only ice-skating rink on the island.

The facility, open all year, boasts a 90-by-180-foot sheet of ice in its basement. Visitors can buy tickets to rent skates from a vending machine just inside the entrance.

Inside, there’s a very noticeable drop in temperature and a layer of fog that hovers over the ice. You can see your breath in the cold air, conjuring memories of Christmases past.

Gloves are required to enter the rink. You can bring your own or purchase a pair at the counter for 300 yen. A supply of free-to-use helmets are available in both adult and child sizes.

There’s an area set aside to change your shoes for skates and coin lockers to secure valuables.

Gliding on the ice might be a little challenging at first. Beginners might want to start out on a weekday since fewer skaters mean more room to practice.

Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to relax and enjoy the Christmas mood on the ice.

If you want to improve, there are skating classes available and you can also try your hand at figure skating or ice hockey.

Skating can lead to tired feet and exhaustion, so guests are welcome to sit on the sidelines, watch other skaters and enjoy the cool temperature.

If it gets a little too cold, you can warm up in a break room where there are vending machines selling everything from noodle cups to coffee.

Sports World Southern Hill also includes a 36-lane bowling alley, a 16-cage batting range and an arcade area.

 

Sports World Southern Hill

DIRECTIONS
Location: 460-1 Miyahira, Haebaru Town, Okinawa, Japan. Take the Okinawa Expressway toward Naha and get off at Exit 1A, Yonabaru. Make a right turn on 329, then an immediate right on 240. Follow the signs with the skating penguins, and the sport complex will be on top of the hill.

TIMES
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends.

COSTS
Admission, which includes skate rental, costs 1,700 yen for adults; 1,500 yen for students; 1,300 yen for elementary school students; 1,100 yen for preschool children; and 300 yen for observers.

Kadena Air Base’s ITT office sells discount tickets: 1,500 yen for adults; 1,300 yen for ages 13 to 17; 1,100 yen for ages 7 to 12.

FOOD
Vending machines

INFORMATION
Phone: 098-888-5858; web: www.southern-hill.com/facilities/ice-arena