Kinjo-cho Ishidatami-michi, Naha

Most tourists don't visit the path, so it is usually very quiet. (Photo by Sandra Isaka)
Most tourists don't visit the path, so it is usually very quiet. (Photo by Sandra Isaka)

Kinjo-cho Ishidatami-michi, Naha

by Sandra Isaka

Any visit to Shuri Castle would not be complete without a walk along the ishidatami michi, or stone-paved path, in Kinjo-cho. Located on the south-side of the castle, this is an area where high ranking samurai lived. The path, paved with Okinawan limestone, currently runs about 300 meters downhill from the castle. Originally it was about five kilometers long and connected Shuri Castle to Shikina-en.

As you walk down the path, you'll come to 'Madama', a cafe with an outdoor patio and a really nice view of Naha. Continue past homes separated by walls built with the same stones as the path itself. A bit farther down an alley branches off to the left. There is a handwritten sign here that says, in Japanese, that a special 300 year old tree is just one minutes' walk. Even if you can't read the sign, look for an arrow and the number '300'.

There are actually six o-akagi (giant akagi trees) in a grove down this alley. The oldest is over 300 years old; the others are all over 200 years old. They hover over small, ancient shrines surrounded by greenery. Before WWII, many akagi trees grew in and around Shuri Castle, but almost all were destroyed by fire.

The Shiroya Cafe (Photo by Sandra Isaka)

Back on the main path, continue to head downward until you reach a lovely open-air 'rest house' where anyone is welcome to take off their shoes and relax on the tatami mats. Beside the rest house is the Kanegusuku natural spring. There is also a tiny soba shop here and across the main path is a newer cafe/coffee shop called 'Shiroya'

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