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Kinjou dam is patch of green in hectic Naha

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2002-06-28

Last Sunday, I decided to take advantage of a beautiful sunny June afternoon by doing a little sightseeing down in Naha. With water rationing looming over all of our heads, I chose to visit a dam close to my new apartment to both check out the area surrounding my new home and get a firsthand glimpse of exactly how depleted a local dam was. While driving to the Expressway, I had often driven past the Kinjou Dam. My initial reaction after passing the dam for my first time was that of utter surprise! After living on Okinawa for the majority of two decades, I was very familiar with Naha’s heavy traffic, tall buildings, and hectic pace. However, what I found only a few miles from the heart of Naha city was a green patch of nature. I had never seen this part of Naha.

Depending on where you park your car, once you park you will walk towards the dam’s entrance—a flight of stairs leading up to the top of the dam. Here you can get a good look at the dam’s lower pond as well as read a sign with technical information about the dam if you can read Japanese. Once you enter the dam, you are free to decide where you’d like to take your stroll. Steep stairs lead both down to the actual body of water and up a little higher for a better look of the dam. There really isn’t a lot to see aside from a few points of interest at the dam, but the site is an ideal spot for taking a late afternoon stroll after spending a day shopping on Kokusai or battling Naha’s infamous traffic.

If you decide to walk down to the waterline, you’ll notice swarms of freshwater fish. I was surprised to see freshwater fish in Naha and was reminded of fishing for sunfish, rainbow trout, and bluegill in the states with my brother and grandpa as a child. I was half-tempted to walk back to my car and grab my fishing pole to see what kind of fish this pond was hiding, but a sign announced “No Fishing.” Some of the fish were quite large and I would have gladly spent the entire afternoon fishing at Kinjou Dam if it had been ok.

I decided to explore more of the dam and came across a second pond further away from the entrance. Not nearly as big as the previous, I was surprised, however, to find it was over 30 meters deep. It also looked quite full! I instantly disregarded the idea of water rationing as obscene with so much water right in front of me, but I know nothing of how much water Okinawans consume, so the idea quickly dissipated. I later learned from a friend that this dam’s purpose is not to hold drinking water but to control the water level of a nearby river.

One point of interest is the “Old River Bridge”, a small stone bridge completed in the middle of the 17th century. Though small, this bridge is very photogenic and worth the drive alone. It’s a great spot for a family picture! A small stone near the bridge is engraved with a short history of the bridge in English and Japanese for those who are interested.

Driving to the Kinjou Dam is fairly easy if you are somewhat familiar with Naha and Shuri. From highway 58, if you are driving south, turn left onto route 29 towards Kokusai Street. Drive past Kokusai and the Asato intersection and head straight a few more kilometers. Turn right at the Enzeru Mansion where route 29 splits to the left and right. Drive straight about two kilometers and you’ll see the dam on your right. If you get lost, just ask a local, “Kinjou damu wa dokodesuka” or “where is the Kinjou Dam.” Good luck on your search. I highly recommend this spot for lazy summer afternoons.

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