Okinawa, Japan

2018 First Sunrise + Shuri Castle Festival

Posted In: okinawa

While my in-laws were visiting this holiday season we had them partake in a Japanese New Year’s tradition, watching the first sunrise of the year. We did it back in 2015 at Nakagusuku Castle, tried to in 2017 but our alarms didn’t wake us, so of course we had to do it one last time with our family. This year we decided on Katsuren Castle, because it’s relatively close to our house, about a 20 minute drive. Both Nakagusuku and Katsuren Castle are perched high so the views are equally amazing.

I didn’t get as many photos as I wanted with my camera, but I did capture more on my GoPro! (Someday I’ll figure out what to do with those videos/photos.)  For this reason this will be a 2 in 1 blogpost.

The next day, we headed down to Naha for the New Year’s Shuri Castle Festival, another must if you’re interested in immersing yourself in the local holiday festivities. The 3-day festivities features re-enactments of the New Year’s celebration during the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom. We went to see the Chohai-Okishiki, a 3 part performance that showcases: a prayer ceremony for peace and tranquility in the coming year, a prayer ceremony for the kings long life and prosperity, and a royal family sake drinking ceremony.

Shurijo Castle Park New Year’s Celebration

       ^^ How LOVELY are these ladies in their full kimonos? I had to sneak a photo when I saw them posing ^^

My favorite part of visiting Shuri Castle is the Sasunoma Tea Room. For ¥310 you will get to drink some hot jasmine tea and eat some traditional Okinawan sweets on beautiful lacquerware.

Make sure to check out my Things To Do In Okinawa, Japan: Holiday Edition post for more fun things to do in November/December/January!

Shuri Castle Festival

Dates: January 1-3 of every year
(the ceremony only happens on the 1st and 2nd, but there are still activities on the 3rd)
Hours: 8:30am – 5:00 pm
Admission Fees: Adult – ¥820
High School Students – ¥620
Children – ¥310

Location: 1 Chome-2 Shurikinjocho, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 903-0815