Yui Rail, a city monorail in Okinawa, began operation on August 10, 2003. It draws a wide range of ridership, from locals to domestic and foreign tourists. The monorail track will be extended and 4 more stations will be added by the summer of 2019 (at the earliest) for further convenience! We will show you how to maximize your experience with Yui Rail and also introduce some tourist spots in Naha that can be accessed using the monorail. Adding: It's extended 4 stations current as of November, 2021.
The monorail takes you from Naha Airport Station to Shuri Station (12.9km in distance) in 27 minutes. One of the appeals is its punctuality; you’ll be able to follow your travel itinerary as scheduled because it’s not affected by road conditions like constructions and bad traffic. Its adorable appearance—2 cars as one set—is another factor that’s drawing lots of fans. Look forward to its arrival at the platform! You’ll be surprised to learn that, in some areas, this compact monorail runs at the height of a 5-story building. Seeing Naha from a higher viewpoint is something you can’t do with a rental car or a bus. The best view can be had from the seating on the first row, right behind the driver’s seat.
Each station has unique decorations, like glass art and shisa. Some art pieces are themed after traditional Okinawan events like eisa dance and dragon boat race. Others illustrate Shuri Castle and Okinawan ocean. Yui Rail uses Okinawan folk music for eki-melo, or jingle that plays upon the arrival of a monorail. Each station plays different folk music: Tsubokawa Station plays Toshin Doi, Asato Station plays Asadoya Yunta, and Gibo Station plays Bashofu. These are all well-known music in Okinawa that will make you want to sing along.
The 800yen one-day pass lets you ride the monorail as many times as you want within 24 hours after purchase. It’s perfect for Yui Rail tour. The standard monorail fee for an adult is between 230yen and 330yen, so purchasing a one-day pass is a better deal if you know you’re going to ride it more than 3-4 times in a day. Yui Rail one-day pass might benefit you in other ways as well; at some parks you may get a free drink or an entrance fee discount if you display your Yui Rail one-day pass, so you might wanna do a little research ahead of time.
OKICA can be used on both Yui Rail and local buses. Avoid the hassle of purchasing a ticket every time and just place your OKICA against a ticket machine. The Okinawan design on the card and the fact that it’s limited to Okinawa makes it a perfect travel memorabile. To purchase, go to a ticket machine or a ticket counter at a station. They are available at some convenience stores as well.
Moving on to the list of recommended tourist stops in Naha accessed by Yui Rail!
Souvenir shops and restaurants line up on this famous tourist destination. The station located at the entrance to Kokusai Dori is Kencho-mae Station. You won’t even have to deal with finding parking spots if you used Yui Rail.
It’s a 15-minute walk from Kencho-mae Station to Naminoue Beach, where you can swim and enjoy marine activities. Walk just 3 minutes from the beach and you’ll find Naminoue Shrine, which stands tall atop a bluff and looks out over the blue ocean. The paper fortunes are very popular and available in four languages.
Why not enjoy Okinawa night life to the fullest at Kokusai Dori Yataimura? It’s only a 4-minute walk from Makishi Station and is home to close to 20 different restaurants. Naturally, you’ll find Okinawan food as well as Japanese and Western cuisine. Stay out late with a wide variety of great food.
Yachimun is the Okinawan word for fired ceramics. Walk just 12 minutes from Makishi Station and you’ll find Tsuboya Yachimun Street. The street is home to everything from traditional style to modern pieces, so you’ll definitely find something that suits your tastes. Just walking along on this atmospheric street is quite pleasant.
Makishi Public Market is an 8-minute walk from Makishi Station. For many years, it’s been revered as Naha residents’ kitchen, and these days you will find it bustling with locals and tourists alike. There are cafeterias on the second floor that will cook up the ingredients you buy at the market—very popular because you get to taste the freshest ingredients!
It’s just a 15-minute walk from Shuri Station to the popular photo spot at Shureimon Gate, the entrance to Shuri Castle. If you hop on the monorail headed towards Shuri, the castle will appear to the right of the monorail. So take a seat on the left side if you want to see the castle straight ahead.
There’s more to Shuri than just Shuri Castle; it’s got cobblestone paths, cafés, restaurants, and fabric dyeing activities. There are enough things to do in Shuri that you could spend all day just in that area. All of these tourist spots are within a 20-minute walk from Shuri Station, so we recommend exploring on foot.
The monorail lets you have an amazing time in Okinawa even without a rental car. Enjoy great views from the monorail window and fascinating art at each station. And with the convenient OKICA IC card, the travel time between destinations in Naha becomes a part of the fun experience.
Nanjo City・Yaese Town・Haebaru Town・Yonabaru Town
Naha・Kokusai Street Area