Riding Okinawa’s Yui Rail
Yui Rail is Naha City’s urban monorail and the only public train system running in Okinawa Prefecture. With a total of 15 stations along one line, the purpose of Yui Rail is to connect Naha Airport to the rest of the city. It has been in operation for 14 years and although it does not cover all of Naha, is is the most convenient way to move around and especially for a day of sightseeing. If you’ve reserved a rental car and will pick it up as soon as you arrive you probably won’t be making much use of the monorail, but otherwise, your vacation in Okinawa will most likely start with a ride on the Yui.
Naha-Kuko Station is connected via a platform to Naha Airport so getting to the trains is quite straightforward.
To board the trains you can either purchase a single-ride ticket, a day pass, or an IC card which can be charged as you please. The cost of a single ride depends on the distance traveled, with a ride to Kencho-Mae Station near International Street costing 260 yen, and the trip to Shuri Castle at the end of the Line costing 330 yen. The 1-day pass costs 700 yen and can be used for 24 hours. If you are planning on hopping on and off the train and checking out the sights then the day pass offers the best value. If you are renting a car but picking it up on the second day of your stay, it might still work out on your favour to buy the day pass which can also be purchased for two consecutive days.
On top of being convenient to move around the city, riding Yui Rail is also a great way get a quick view of the city and it architecture. As a monorail, the system rides above ground level from start to finish and gives visitors a picturesque tour of the city at no extra cost. Between the airport station and Shurijo Castle, you get to see a collection of new and antique military planes as the train rides over an army base, the Okinawa Cellular Stadium and the Athletic Park next to the Kokuba River, and further up the line, you’ll realise the hilly nature of the city as the train makes its way up to Shurijo Castle. Either way you look, the urban landscape with all the white buildings rising over the hills is a beautiful site. Even more so during sunset, when the scenery all along the rail line becomes even more stunning.
If you do decide to use the monorail to complete your sightseeing plans, Yui Rail recommends three different travel courses to get the best out of the system: The History and Culture Course, The Shopping and Cuisine Course, and the Distillery Tour. There’s a little incentive (not clearly advertised) too when you buy the day pass; by showing your day pass ticket at the Shurijo Castle gate you’ll receive a 100 yen discount. Not a whole lot but sometimes that extra yen goes a long way.