Scenic park offers escape in the heart of Naha
If you’ve seen the main sights of Naha, and would like to ‘get away from it all’ without leaving the city, Sueyoshi Koen is the perfect destination. The park is located on a forested hillside above a narrow valley that lies along the monorail line, between Shinritsu Byoin Mae and Gibo Stations.
I recommend that you cover the park in a clockwise directly. As you head right, a stone paved path takes you into what seems like a dense jungle. The foliage is deep green, lizards scuttle about, and birds call overhead.
The first ‘sight’ that you will reach is a stone bridge over a trickling stream. If there has not been much rain, you’ll need to look closely for a small waterfall. As you walk further, find the long, brown winding staircase heading upward. At the top, continue walking in a circular direction by turning left. You will now be walking on a simple dirt path. Trails head off, here and there, feel free to check them out. However, be careful and stay alert as Okinawa does have a healthy snake population, including the venomous Habu.
Make your way toward Sueyoshi-guu, a small shrine on the upper edge of the hillside that you will occasionally glimpse as you wander the forest paths. Rebuilt after being destroyed in WWII, it is a lovely building with a commanding view of Naha. For those who truly like to explore, there are also a number of tiny shrines and stone monuments hidden down paths within the jungle-like forest surrounding the shrine.
Next, make your way down the shrine’s stone stairway - which was built around the same time as the original Sueyoshi-guu in the 15th century. As you walk, keep an eye out for an English sign for the Ginowan-udun, a tomb for the Ginowan prince and his family. The sign states that it is the oldest existing ‘turtle back tomb’, dating to the beginning of the 18th century. The tomb is often overgrown with vines, but is impressive.
The final part of your walk will take you down to a grassy lawn covered in palm trees and the occasional picnic table. If you have brought a lunch, this is the perfect place to sit down and enjoy it. There is also a small playground here for children to enjoy.
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