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Peace & tranquility inside the city

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2011-06-02

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Okinawa’s capital city, there lies a place of solitude and tranquility that’s just perfect for relaxing and recharging the body.

Fukushu-en Gardens are a peaceful place to visit, located in the Kume District of downtown Naha City. The Chinese style gardens were built in 1992 to mark Naha’s 10th anniversary of sister city relations with Fuzhou City in China, and each year tens of thousands find their way to the idyllic gardens to meditate, bask in the sunshine and absorb both the quiet and the historical elements of the gardens.

The gardens are all Chinese, yet pretty much all Okinawan, a clue to visitors that Okinawa’s past is closely linked to China. The Chinese influence is evident across Okinawa, but nowhere more than at Fukushu-en Gardens, where officials brought both technicians and materials to this island paradise to make an authentic gardens, much as are found in China’s Fujian Province.

It is from Fuzhou City, the capital of Fujian Province, that the Chinese first came to Naha some 600 years ago, establishing a community in Kume. Throughout the years, Chinese skills became of great value to the Ryukyu Kingdom, particularly during the early years of the dynasty.

Fukushu-en Gardens are divided into three areas: Light, Shadow and Brilliance. In each, the designs, shrubbery and flowers are established to provide excitement through the changing four seasons.

Visitors walking the pathways experience Chinese sculptures, pagodas and tea pavilions. Equally important, the grassy knolls allow visitors a chance to pause from the hectic pace of being a tourist, a businessman or a simple visitor. Relaxation is strongly encouraged by the garden staff, and is fostered by the simple, quiet atmosphere itself. Amazingly, although Fukushu-en Gardens are only a few meters from a busy downtown Naha highway, it is peaceful and quiet.

The gardens are exotic, both in landscaping and architecture, which are typical of those found in Fuzhou. Within the Fukushu-en Gardens buildings are priceless artwork, and when ready to stop wandering the park, settle by the pond and feed the fish and turtles. There are places where you can purchase goodies to feed them, and they’ll put on a real show in exchange for the munchies.

Once back hiking, be sure to explore the man-made waterfall, with winding stone stairways on either side of the falls. From the pagoda, it’s a perfect place for a commanding view of the area. When coming back down, duck behind and beneath the waterfall for a unique perspective on the park.

The Cost
Entrance to Fukushu-en Park is free. The park is open daily 9 a.m. ~ 6 p.m.

Getting there
From the military bases, travel south on Highway 58 into Naha City. Once past Tomari Port on the northern side of the city, look for signs to Kumoji Crossing. Turn right off Highway 58 and Fukushu-en is about 100 meters from Highway 58 on the left. Coming off the Okinawa Expressway, the park is about a half-hour drive. Get off the Naha Exit of the expressway and follow the signs towards the airport. At Highway 58 Asahibashi Intersection, turn right and go six blocks north to Kumoji Crossing. Turn left and follow the signs. About a dozen free parking spaces are available across the street from Fukushu-en Park.

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