Shurijo Castle is located in Naha City, and is easily accessible on a day trip from the city center, so it is one of the recommended spots to visit if you stay in Naha. Shurijo Castle is a World Heritage Site, but strictly speaking, it is the ruins of Shurijo Castle that was registered as the World Heritage Site “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu” in December 2000, and the restored buildings and castle walls are not part of the World Heritage Site.
Shurijo Castle can be reached by Yui Rail (Okinawa Urban Monorail) from Naha City. The nearest station of the hotel I was staying at (Estinate Hotel) is Miebashi Station, which is also close to Kokusai-dori (International Street), so I took Yui Rail from Miebashi Station.
Taking Yui Rail is easy. It is almost same as taking trains in Osaka or Tokyo. You just need to buy a ticket to Shuri Station (300 yen from Miebashi Station) at a ticket-vending machine and pass through the ticket gate. The only difference with most trains in Japan is that the ticket has a QR code (two-dimensional barcode), and you need to touch the code on the ticket gate before passing through it like an IC card. It is only about 13 minutes from Miebashi Station to Shuri Station. Shurijo Castle Park has a parking lot, but I’m sure it is crowded.
I saw several groups of foreign tourists heading to Shurijo Castle on Yui Rail. Yui Rail has only two cars, so it is often crowded during certain hours, but it was after 9:00 a.m. (after the rush hours) on a weekday when I took Yui Rail, so it was not crowded and I was able to sit on the seat.
After arriving at Shuri Station, I had to walk for a while before getting to the entrance of Shurijo Castle Park. It was sunny on this day, and although it was at the end of January, I got a bit sweaty while working. I walked through the road along Ryutan Lake (an artificial pond in Shurijo Castle Park), and arrived at Shurijo Castle Park after walking for around 15 minutes.
Shurijo Castle Park was crowded with lots of people such as foreign tourists and students on school trips. It was around 10:00 a.m. when I arrived at the park, but I felt bit hungry as I didn’t have a breakfast, so I decided to take a branch at Restaurant Suimui in Shurijo Castle Park Rest Center Suimuikan, which is located near the entrance of the park, before strolling around the park.
I ordered the most popular menu in the restaurant “Mini Taco Soba Set (taco rice and Okinawa soba noodle set)” and a hot coffee. Taco rice is a popular Okinawan dish which the ingredients usually wrapped in a taco shell are placed on top of rice. And you can choose one of the four types of soba noodles. I think I ordered soki (pork rib) soba.
I had a high expectation for the soba as a guide book says that Restaurant Suimui’s Okinawa soba is great, but it was not so different from that of other restaurants (the taste was nice, though). Rather, taco rice was very delicious. The lettuce used in the taco rice was soft and it was easy to eat, and its texture and taste made me want to go back for more. The hot coffee served after the meal was nice too.
There were few people in the restaurant as I entered as soon as it opened at 10:00 a.m. I took the time to enjoy the meal, and then left the restaurant to stroll around Shurijo Castle Park.