Most people head to Okinawa for the beach but when the sun and surf gets to be a bit too monotonous, grab the kids and head inland for a cultural education at the village of Ryukyu Mura.
Ryukyu Mura (meaning “Ryukyu Village”) is a collection of traditional Okinawan homes, most of which were dismantled and moved here from other parts of the island in an attempt at preservation. The open-sided, palm-thatched buildings now house artisans who demonstrate Okinawa’s traditional crafts – you can observe weavers and shamisen players or try your own hand at painting shisa, Okinawan lion dogs. A potter’s kiln and shop lie at the far end of the village if you’d rather take home a professional craft. One house even offers up homemade andagi, the Okinawan donut hole typically made from brown sugar.
On the northern reach of the village, you’ll find the Habu House. Habu are the island’s native variety of venemous vipers and you can get a close up look at them safely behind glass here … you certainly don’t want to meet them any other way! There are occasional snake shows but they cost extra and frankly, didn’t seem worth it to me.
The village’s best options for entertainment are the music and dance performances throughout the day. Try to aim for the 10am or 4pm parade of royalty, where the entire staff seemingly showcases their talents. You’ll catch the comical lion dance, sanshin strumming and a very enthusiastic group of eisa dancers.
Ryukyu Mura is stroller and wheelchair accessible but doesn’t offer visitors much in the way of shade. Try not to visit in the unbearable heat of the summer if you can, but do try to make it here at some point during your time on the island.
Hours: 8:30am-6:00pm daily
Fee: Adults ¥840, Children ¥240