Naha’s most popular shrine sits regally atop a limestone cliffside, looking out over the turquoise waters below. In fact, its name, Naminoue (波上), literally means ‘above the waves’.
Considered a sacred space to offer prayers to the nirai kanai, or the world of the gods, Naminoue has a long history, dating back to the era when Okinawa was the Kingdom of the Ryukyus. Boats coming in and out of the port below would gaze up at the shrine, and offer prayers for safety at sea, and success in their catch.
On New Year’s Eve, the King of the Ryukyus and other royalty would visit Naminoue to pray for peace and prosperity. To this day, Naminoue Shrine is the top spot for Okinawans performing hatsumode, the first prayers for the new year. Many festivals and ceremonies are still held at the shrine grounds, which is also a popular shrine for Shinto weddings.
Over the years, the city of Naha has grown around the shrine, and it is a short walk from the downtown core and Kokusai Dori. Naminoue Shrine is about a 15 minute walk from the closest monorail station, Prefectural Office.
Naminoue Shrine looks out over Naminoue Beach, Naha’s city’s only beach, and, despite being part of the urban centre, a fantastic place to swim and relax. The water is amazingly clean, and there are facilities, such as bathrooms and showers.
The only thing that scars the face of Naminoue Shrine and Naminoue Beach is the unfortunately bypass which was built right in front of it, obstructing the view. However, those who want to get the iconic shot of Naminoue Shrine on the clifftop can walk along the bypass to get the perfect view, looking towards the shrine.