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A Jungle in Naha City? Stroll through the Unspoiled Nature in Sueyoshi Park
post : 2020.01.31 09:00
Did you know that there’s a park with pristine nature within Naha City? This spot, Sueyoshi Park, is so rich with greenery that you’ll forget you’re in the city. It’s located just five minutes away on foot from the Naha City Hospital Station of the Yui Rail, or seven minutes on foot from Gibo Station.
The park spreads on 19 hectares of land and this area, that’s big enough to fit four Tokyo Domes, is bursting with lush greenery like a subtropical jungle. You can enjoy trekking through the untouched nature found here.
Sueyoshi Park is a cherished spot among the locals and you’ll find people walking their dogs, visitors with their boxed lunches to enjoy picnics, and the elderly who gather to play Gate Ball on the field in the park.
There’s a stream that flows through the park and during the rainy season in May, many fireflies can be seen by the clear, flowing water. They hold night tours to view the fireflies every year, so if you get a chance, it’ll be great to join the tour.
Majority of the Sueyoshi Park grounds are designated as wildlife and/or forest reserves. In the park, you’ll find many varieties of subtropical plants that you won’t see too often in the rest of Japan, like the banyans and palm trees, and others like bishop wood, hibiscus, red powder-puff, shikwasa citrus, bougainvillea, fringed hibiscus…and many more.
A Hikan Sakura cherry tree within Sueyoshi Park is used by official agencies as “a standard or sample tree# to declare the flowering of Japan’s first cherry blossoms. The cherry flowers begin to bloom around the beginning of January and are in full bloom from mid to the end of the month. This is a great time of the year to visit Okinawa and be the first to enjoy the spring season in Japan.
Also, something that’s little known is that within Sueyoshi Park is Sueyoshi-Gu, one of the Eight Shrines of Ryukyu (which received special treatment from the royal Ryukyuan government in the past).
The Honden or the main hall and the stone steps within the shrine grounds were destroyed in the flames of the Pacific War, but until then, Sueyoshi Shrine was designated as a National Treasure. The structure that stands today was reconstructed after the war, and now the Honden is nationally designated as a cultural asset, and the stone steps are designated as a cultural property by Okinawa Prefecture.
From the entrance to the park (on the south-side) to Sueyoshi Shrine is about 30 minutes on foot. The path is at times quite bumpy so when you go, be sure to wear comfortable shoes (but I learnt later that there is also a different and easier route to Sueyoshi Shrine from the northern Onaguchi Sando). The Shrine’s office is open only during the first three days of the New Year, but the distinctive atmosphere of the Shrine and its grounds makes it a deeply interesting spot and just being there naturally seemed to calm my spirit.
The park is vast so it takes about two hours to cover the whole park, and so by the time you’re done spending a leisurely time at the park, you’ll be famished. Conveniently, there are Okinawa soba restaurants, diners and cafes around Sueyoshi Park, so you can continue to enjoy the area even after a wonderful stroll around the park.
Address: 1-3-1 Shuri Sueyoshi-cho, Naha City, Okinawa
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Sachiko Tachi