Traveling on the Monorail in Naha

Travel above the heart of city

When you come to Okinawa, the monorail which is known as “Yui Rail” is a good way to travel around Naha. With 15 different stops high above the city streets, it gives a great view of the city of Naha. The trip from the airport (Naha - kuko) to Shuri castle on the monorail takes about 30 minutes. The cost is under 400 yen one way. (Make sure to keep your ticket after you use it in order to get through the gate as you will need it when you exit at your stop.) If you buy a 1 day pass for 700 yen you can use the monorail an unlimited amount of times for a 24 hour period. That being said, it is important to know that the monorail opens at 6 AM and closes at 11:30 PM every day. If you need to get around the city after that time you can always catch a cab. As for the buses, it will depend on the company since they all have different schedules. More on that at a later date.

Returning to the monorail ticketing system, the ticketing machines in the station have English available as an option. If you will be in Naha for an extended period of time and don't want to have to purchase a ticket every time you go to a monorail station, you can purchase from the ticket machines (or the counter) prepaid rechargeable cards that you swipe at the ticket gates. These cards are called “Okica” (オキカ) and they can be purchased with varying amounts of money stored on the card as needed. You can charge these cards in prepaid amounts ranging from as low as 1000yen on up to 30,000 yen (roughly 10 USD to 300 USD). Additionally these cards can also be used for the four local main bus companies of Okinawa. These are the regular city and inter-island buses, not the big tourist buses. Additionally, according to http://www.japanupdate.com/2015/04/local-bus-companies-switching-to-okica-system/ - “People can get a refund for points depending on the frequency of use. For example, one can get 10 points for each ¥10 used for commuting. The points can then be used for a fare from 100 points on.”- (On the Okica card.)

Picture of the Okica card

Picture of the Okica card

All of the monorail stops have their merits but the monorail stop I want to talk about today is the Oroku station. If you have just arrived from Europe or wherever location that uses 220 volts as plug-in power, and you need a plug-in converter to charge your electronics, or if you need sun block lotion, band-aids, blister ointment, sandals, shorts, etc. Then the Oroku station is the perfect place to stop for shopping because it is connected to an Aeon mall with supermarkets, drugstores, restaurants, a food court with local delicacies, and ATM machines. JP (Japan's post office) is on the 4th floor and they will take debit and credit cards from foreign countries. In Okinawa, the ATM's close at 10 PM during the week and 9 PM on the weekends. I know what you are thinking. That's crazy and inconvenient, but that is the way it is here, so if your going out and need money — get it before 9 pm. Japan is mostly a cash society and the prefecture of Okinawa is no exception to that. Most big restaurants and night clubs accept credit cards, but the smaller places like izakayas and little mom and pop bars will not accept credit cards or debit cards. So get your cash funds ready, because in my opinion the little places are much more interesting than the big restaurant chains, and the local people are friendly and engaging.

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