Japan
Jun 2024
1 week

Naha

Better known for tacos rather than kimonos.

[Local Time}
{Temperature}
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[Description}

The capital of Okinawa Prefecture and the former capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Situated approximately 400 miles south of mainland Japan, the city features unique cuisine, diverse marine life and has been home to a U.S. air base since the end of the Second World War.

Verdict:
Consider for a holiday

Not enough on offer for an extended stay if you're working remotely, but if you're already in Japan on vacation, the wider island would make for an interesting 3 night trip.

🌎
Verdict:
Consider for a holiday

Not enough on offer for an extended stay if you're working remotely, but if you're already in Japan on vacation, the wider island would make for an interesting 3 night trip.

Verdict:
Consider for a holiday

Not enough on offer for an extended stay if you're working remotely, but if you're already in Japan on vacation, the wider island would make for an interesting 3 night trip.

👎
Verdict:
Consider for a holiday

Not enough on offer for an extended stay if you're working remotely, but if you're already in Japan on vacation, the wider island would make for an interesting 3 night trip.

🛫
Japanese Yen (JPY)
320,000
🏝️ Great for a holiday
💰 Great value

Summary

After a hectic week, as I had envisioned in Tokyo, I booked a week in Okinawa's capital as a fitting way to conclude the Japanese itinerary, blissfully unaware at the time of booking that this period coincides with particularly wet weather.

Accommodation
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Naha was by far the best city I had visited in Japan for Airbnb options. There was a surprisingly good range of modern apartments, centrally located and very affordable, in complete contrast with other cities.

As with other destinations in Japan, it's well worth considering hotels, where prices are generally lower than what you would expect to pay for equivalent accommodations in Western Europe.

info
New legislation
Recent changes introduced by the Turkish government has made short-term rentals for under 100 days more restricted. Keep an eye on Reddit threads for up-to-date assessments of how the new legislation is impacting short-term rentals in practice.
Places to work
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

There are several options in the city but by no means is it a great destination for working from. I had a pleasurable week at .andwork okinawa which I've written about in greater details below.

If i was to return again, I would look for an Airbnb with a suitable working environment, or a hotel with a lounge or lobby to work from as whilst the options in the city are passable, unless you are dying to get out of the house, it's not worth the hassle.

Value
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Prices were in line with the other destinations I had visited in Japan, with a particularly large number of inexpensive options for lunch. Walking around Makishi Market you can easily find small lunch boxes containing Rice, Fish and vegetables for 200 Yen (£1).

info
The yen is currently at a 34-year low
While this is undoubtedly a negative for the Japanese, it makes for an exceptionally good time to visit Japan from abroad. Although this trend is unlikely to reverse significantly in the short term, it's still worth checking before visiting.
Read more
View the cost of living
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Working hours
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Japan observes Japan Standard Time (JST), which is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). However, the time difference reduces to 8 hours during the summer months as Japan does not observe daylight saving time.This large gap in time zones has advantages and disadvantages, but planning a trip during the summer would reduce the likelihood of having to work past midnight to maintain alignment with European schedules.

The center of the town is dominated by the Makishi Public Market, which extends in seemingly infinite directions with retailers selling clothes, groceries, plus bars and restaurants open late into the evening.
The center of the town is dominated by the Makishi Public Market, which extends in seemingly infinite directions with retailers selling clothes, groceries, plus bars and restaurants open late into the evening.
Naminoue Beach was the only real option I could find for sunbathing or swimming near the center of Naha. You're probably better off looking elsewhere on the island if intending to spend a lot of time at the beach.
Naminoue Beach was the only real option I could find for sunbathing or swimming near the center of Naha. You're probably better off looking elsewhere on the island if intending to spend a lot of time at the beach.
Days with dismal scenes like this occurred a couple of times during my stay, which is not uncommon during the wet season. No fun at all.
Days with dismal scenes like this occurred a couple of times during my stay, which is not uncommon during the wet season. No fun at all.

Where to stay

Would avoid
Recommended
Naha
The largest of the towns on the island and probably your safest bet as somewhere to base yourself. That being said, if looking to make the most of the coastline, you may be better off exploring elsewhere.
Would avoid
Recommended
Chatan
About a 30-minute bus ride from the center of Naha, this area is home to the American Village and, unsurprisingly, a large number of US military personnel. It actually has better coastline than Naha, so I would consider staying here as well.
Would avoid
Recommended
Yonabaru
I spent a wet afternoon here and would not recommend staying in the area. Very quiet, with infrequent and early-finishing buses to the centre of Naha.

Where to work

andwork Okinawa
Top Choice
☕️ Good Coffee
📍 Top Location
🥗 On Site Cafe
🧍Community Focused
⭐️ Quality Fit Out
🌳 Outdoor Space

After looking around at several other sites in the city, this seems to be your best option if staying in Naha. Located on the ground floor of the Estinate Hotel, they offer daily, weekly, and monthly working passes for using their ground floor lobby and lounge area.

A weekly pass costs 7,000 Yen (£35), while a single day pass is 2,000 Yen (£10), both giving you access from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Although not a conventional office space, it makes for a surprisingly comfortable base with a few large desks and a central area with stools. There's an outdoor seating area, which is a good option on sunnier days.

Each pass includes three complimentary drinks throughout the day (only one being coffee) and a complimentary hour of free beer from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM, which may come dangerously early in your work day. There's an on-site cafe specialising in tacos, ideal for evening snacks.

Some downsides are the lack of a dedicated area for sensitive calls and a noisier-than-ideal general ambiance. However, assuming you're a short-term visitor, neither of these should deter you.

Other options In Naha

HAVE A GOOD DAY - This site only recently opened and looks like it could be an ideal work-oriented place. At the time of visiting, there was no one in the entire building, which led to a bit of an empty ambiance. It has great potential though, so I would suggest poking your head in for a walk around as it begins to gain traction. It closes at 20:00 in the evenings.

Remote work visa

No remote work visa
Remote work visa available
Remote work visa coming soon
If staying for a prolonged period, you may want to consider a dedicated visa for this destination.
This country is actively working on a visa support for remote workers.
Check your government website for details of how to obtain a tourist visa.

Japan has introduced a new digital nomad visa under its specified visa category, allowing remote workers to stay in Japan for up to 6 months.

Requirements include having an annual income over 10 million yen (around $65,000 USD), private health insurance, and being from an eligible country like the US, UK, EU, Australia, Singapore or South Korea.

Visa holders are not considered residents, cannot extend their stay beyond 6 months, cannot open bank accounts or access national healthcare system in Japan.

View full details
To the best of my knowledge this information was correct as of 27th April 2024. If you notice something has changed drop me a message and I'll update it!

Citizen Remote is a great source of up to date knowledge for everything to do with remote work visas.

Safety

  • An exceptionally safe city.Even by Japanese standards, Naha is a particularly safe city. It's common to see bikes left unlocked across the city centre.

Off-work

Visit Shuri Castle

Shuri Castle, a gusuku (Okinawan castle), served as the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom for several centuries. Perched atop a hill overlooking the city, its impressive red-tiled buildings showcase a unique architectural style blending Japanese, Chinese, and Okinawan influences.

It's worth noting that the castle is undergoing large-scale renovation works until 2025 due to a major fire in 2019.

Learn more
Eat at Kokusai Street Food Village

Great spot to sample a range of Japanese food and drinks once you've finished work. Situated to the East of the main Makishi Market, it's home to around 10 different casual restaurants and open until around midnight.

Visit Shuri Castle

Shuri Castle, a gusuku (Okinawan castle), served as the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom for several centuries. Perched atop a hill overlooking the city, its impressive red-tiled buildings showcase a unique architectural style blending Japanese, Chinese, and Okinawan influences.

It's worth noting that the castle is undergoing large-scale renovation works until 2025 due to a major fire in 2019.

Eat at Kokusai Street Food Village

Great spot to sample a range of Japanese food and drinks once you've finished work. Situated to the East of the main Makishi Market, it's home to around 10 different casual restaurants and open until around midnight.

Duration & season

There is no case for visiting Naha in June, as the wet season can bring prolonged periods of rain. If you have a short amount of time, you don't want any days wiped out by heavy rain. You don't even benefit from the late sunsets that characterise this period in Europe, with darkness falling just before 7 PM.

March to Mid-May appeared to be the sweet spot to make the most of the warmer weather before the rains arrive.

If you're in Japan for an extended period, you could create a great 5-day holiday itinerary for the island as a whole. There's no need for more than a day in Naha itself. I enjoyed the week I spent there, but as a place to work remotely, there isn't enough attraction to draw you away from the larger cities of the mainland, unless explicitly wanting to make use of it's aquatic qualities.

Food & drink

Chatan -> Naha Cosatal Run
·
Run
If you take the bus up to Chatan, this is a great route that will take you along the seafront, past the American Village and eventually back to Naha. The route is mainly uninterrupted, with plenty of places to stop for a coffee or water.

People

The presence of the US military base seems to attract more Americans than other places I saw within the country, especially in the area of Chatan, which is in close proximity to the base.

It's a popular tourist destination for Japanese from the mainland as well as neighbouring countries in Asia, so for such a small city, it has a remarkably international feel.

There was scant evidence of a remote work community; each of the coworking spaces I visited was practically empty, but this may have been partly due to it being the off-season.

Exercise

Chatan -> Naha Cosatal Run
If you take the bus up to Chatan, this is a great route that will take you along the seafront, past the American Village and eventually back to Naha. The route is mainly uninterrupted, with plenty of places to stop for a coffee or water.
keyboard_arrow_down
Chatan -> Naha Cosatal Run
If you take the bus up to Chatan, this is a great route that will take you along the seafront, past the American Village and eventually back to Naha. The route is mainly uninterrupted, with plenty of places to stop for a coffee or water.

Verdict

Positives
  • A contrast to the larger and more hectic cities.A much more manageable sized city means there is no chance you'll feel rushed off your feet.
  • Affordable and good quality accommodation options on Airbnb.It felt a lot easier to find a good quality apartment at a reasonable price here compared to other destinations in the country.
  • Ideal for water-based activities.If you are looking to spend time diving or surfing then this could be a great option.
  • Very well connected to the mainland.Domestic flights are frequent and cheap to lots of cities across the mainland.
Negatives
  • Not the most authentic Japanese experience.This makes it an interesting addition to a wider itinerary of the country but you wouldn't want to make it your sole destination in Japan.
  • You really need a car to get the most out of the island.Although the bus network covers most areas, it's slow and infrequent, particularly for reaching the northern parts of Okinawa.
  • A bit on the quiet side.Especially if you have been in Osaka and Tokyo, Naha will feel a little sleepy.
Tips
  • If arriving at the airport, take the monorail or bus into the city center.The buses accept VISA cards (not Mastercard) or cash, so ensure you have one of these payment methods with you.
  • The bus ticket system can be confusing.Once you board, get a ticket from the machine at the front. The fare depends on how far you travel. Watch the digital display above the driver to see how much you owe based on your ticket number.
  • Air Asia has started doing direct flights from Bangkok.The five hour flight makes it a convenient way of getting to the island rather than going via the mainland.
Planning a trip?
I loved everything about this trip to Japan. I've put together some thoughts on my entire stay in the country, which may come in handy if you are planning a visit soon.
The widespread presence of tacos in Okinawa is largely due to the establishment of a US military base there after the end of World War II.
The area of Mihama in Chatan is a great spot to walk alongside the sea, with a noticeable number of Americans tied to the neighboring airbase.
Naha has a single-track monorail network, connecting the airport with various areas of the city.
If there's any data missing that you would like to see in these articles please leave some feedback and I'll aim to add it in.