Not too far from Shuri Castle, which sits atop the highest hill in Naha overlooking the port and the city, lies Sueyoshi Koen, a beautiful park with walking trails into the hills, and a small red temple that you can ‘hike’ to. I say hike because my 3-year-old did it with only the slightest whinging, so if she can get there, anyone can.
The entrance is between Gibo and Shintitsu Byoin Mae monorail stations, and next to a major highway, but once you park your car and walk into the park, you really forget that you are in the city. Lush greenery, rivers with fish, huge butterflies, flowers, and, apparently, lots of snakes!
From the car park you can see the red temple up in the hills — it looks far, but it only takes about 20 minutes from the parking area. The paved path ends and turn into a dirt foot trail so I’d wear decent shoes (i.e. not heels!) to get there.
On the foot trail you come across a tall stone marker. Turn there and follow the route up the hill. It’s just a slight incline.
Sueyoshi Temple is a place of worship and considered sacred ground, and according to a local guy who had helped us to find it, if you are not there to pray or make offerings, you should not approach the steps or walk up them. Also don’t make a lot of noise because people do go there to clean their family graves and pray. There was an old lady there reciting from prayers, and the old guy turned to me and said, ‘I have no idea what she is saying. She’s speaking the old Okinawa language. It’s not Japanese.’ So if you go, don’t forget this is a temple, and one should behave respectfully.