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Okinawa’s Ice Hockey and Skating Possibilities

Date Posted: 2000-12-15

There is only one ice skating venue in Okinawa, Southern Rink, in the Sports World Southern Hill complex in Naha. The rink staked its claim to fame during the G8 Summit, when Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien went there and watched an ice hockey game between teams of Japanese and Canadian children. He also joined them on the rink for a game. Ice hockey is Canada’s national sport and the ice rink was proud to do its bit for Okinawan-Canadian friendship.

Southern Rink formed an official team this year, the Southern Rink Penguins, who are all amateur players. They practice regularly but would be happier if they could find more ice hockey teams to play against. There is only one other adult team in Okinawa, at Ryukyu University, a junior high school team and several children’s teams.

Mr. Gima, the skate rink manager, said “although some Americans come here to play ice hockey, we are hoping to have more and would like it if an American team were formed. It would be great practice for our team to play against them.” He added “there are many children coming here on the weekends. It would be nice to have an American Children’s team, too. The competition would improve the performance of the Okinawan children and would be so much fun for both sides.”

If this whets the appetite of anybody who knows the sport from back home and misses it, they do not have to give it up just because they are on an island in the Pacific. Anyone wanting to put together a team can use the rink for practice before arranging a game with an Okinawan side. The rink can be rented on Saturday mornings and weekday nights. It costs ¥15,000 to rent the whole rink for an hour and ¥22500 for two hours. Obviously, the more people who turn up in a single group, the cheaper it will work out per person. The rink does not however hire ice hockey sticks, so players need to bring their own.

The rink of course does not only cater to ice hockey, but individual ice skating as well. According to Mr. Gima, interest in ice skating has been stimulated by two American figure skaters, Kandace and Danielle, who give classes to numerous children on the island.

Sports World Southern Hill is not only an ice rink but also has a bowling center, a batting center for practicing baseball, a game center, karaoke, and a Kitadaichi restaurant.

From December 14th to 25th, there are special Christmas reductions. Normal prices for ice skating are: Adults ¥1600; Aged 13-17 ¥1400; Aged 7-12 ¥1200; 6 years old and under, ¥800. But during the Christmas period they will be: Adults, ¥1000 and for anyone under 17, ¥800. For those who do not want to skate but just watch, ¥200.

Special offer for Japan Update readers: Ice skating tickets for ten couples. The tickets include the hiring charge for the skates. So, you don’t have to pay anything at all.

Directions: Get on the expressway towards Naha and leave at the Naha exit. You will immediately see a T-junction. Take a left here towards the Airport and stay in the left lane. After a minute or so, you will see a gas station on the left. Turn left here and continue down the road until you reach another T-junction. Turn left and go about 200 m until you see Sports World Southern Hill on the right. It takes five minutes from the expressway exit to the skating rink. Parking is no problem, as you can park in Southern Hill’s first, second and the third basements.

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