Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Okinawa Monorail Yui Rail ゆいレール

Going early to Okinawa so you can attend the Otsunahiki? Are you going to have free time between otsunahiki and the uchinanchu festival? If you’re going to be in Okinawa you’ll need to know how to get around and know what to do during the down time between festivals. Transportation is expensive in Okinawa and you’ll need to have a plan if you’re going to maximize both your budget and your time. I’ve decided to help you out a bit here on the blog by explaining your options.

I lived on Okinawa for nearly ten years during the eighties and nineties but things were a lot different back then. For one thing the yen rate was between 150 to 200 yen to the dollar at that time not the 78 yen per dollar you’re going to get during the festival this year. By knowing your options you may be able to save yourself a little money.

There are several forms of transportation on the island and I will cover them in the next few days. Your choices will include rental cars, buses, taxies, and a monorail system that runs between the Airport and Shuri right through the heart of Naha city. Today I’ll talk specifically about using the Monorail.

Okinawa Monorail Yui Rail  ゆいレール
I like historical things so let’s begin with a bit of history about electric rail in Okinawa. The first electric railway was established in 1911 by Saiga Tokichi the operator of Saiga Electric Company of Kyoto. He created the Okinawa Electric Railway which linked Naha to Shuri with a trolley line. The trolley line did well until the introduction of buses on the island. It lasted until 1933 when the line ceased its operations due to the loss of passengers brought about by the competition with buses. In Okinawa it’s really hard to find old photographs but thanks to military photographers on island after the battle for Okinawa I was able to find a picture of a trolley car on Okinawa that had been there prior to the war. I believe therefore that this must have been one of the Okinawa Electric Railway Trolley cars.

Okinawa Electric Trolley Car (1945)
The Okinawa Toshi Monorēru a Monorail called the Yui Rail (ゆいレール)

The Yui Rail Travels Above the Street Level
 Today’s monorail system is about as far from the original trolley design as one can imagine. Construction on the line began in 1996 and the when finished in 2003 the new Okinawa Monorail system gave the Okinawan people and tourists alike an alternative to the bus once again. This state of the art monorail was designed to overcome the severe congestion in the capitol city of Naha. The line runs for 13 kilometers from the Naha airport through Naha city all the way to Shuri. It really is the perfect form of transportation for those staying in Naha.

Conductors are Available to Assist You

When the wife and I visited for the 4th Uchinanchu Festival in 2006 we rode the monorail and it was a very affordable alternative to using a taxi. To ride the monorail you will need to purchase a ticket up on the platform. The cost of the fare is relative to the distance from starting station to destination station. Distances are rounded up to the nearest 1km. Children’s fares are half of adult's fares and are rounded up to nearest 10yen. The rates I found online are between 200 and 300 yen or about $3.85 to ride the entire distance. Not bad for a 13 Km ride.

Purchase Your Ticket on the Platform

Put your Ticket in the end of the Turnstyle

Your Ticket Will Pop Out the Other End

Your now Ready to ride the Monorail.
Have Fun and enjoy the Festival!
 Here are the stops along the line.
There are 15 stations on the line.

Station name       Japanese        Total distance Location

Naha-kūkō        那覇空港       0 km Naha, Okinawa
Akamine            赤嶺               1.95 km
Oroku               小禄                2.71 km
Ōnoyama-kōen 奥武山公園    3.68 km      This is the stop where the festival will be held
Tsubogawa        壺川               4.52 km
Asahibashi         旭橋               5.33 km
Kenchō-mae     県庁前           5.91 km
Miebashi           美栄橋           6.63 km
Makishi             牧志               7.61 km
Asato                安里               8.2 km
Omoromachi     おもろまち   8.95 km
Furujima            古島               9.96 km
Shiritsu-byōin-mae  市立病院前  10.88 km
Gibo                  儀保       11.84 km
Shuri                 首里               12.84 km

Other Okinawa monorail Yui Rail ゆいレール Information
The monorail is a business venture between the prefecture and a private enterprise.

How to ride the Yui Rail
The following describes how to buy and use a regular ticket (Futsu Joshaken) on the Yui Rail, monorail in Naha City Okinawa.

Once you arrive at a monorail station, the first thing you'll need to do is buy a ticket. Find your destination on the fare table located above the ticket vending machines, this will be listed in Japanese characters (kanji) and Romanized (English) letters, it will also show the cost to that station. Put the fare (coins, bills, or card) into the ticket vending machine. Then comes the challenge, match the English station name with Japanese character (kanji) on the ticket machine. Press the button for your destination and the machine will dispense your ticket. If you need a ticket for a child make sure to press the children button before you press the destination button as children fares are less expensive. If you have any problems with this process each monorail station in Naha has staff that can help.

After you have your ticket you can proceed through the station’s gates by placing your ticket in the slot on the right side of the gate. Be sure to grab it as it comes out on the other side as you will need it to get out at your destination.

Next, head toward the platform, following the sign for the train heading the direction you need to go. You can either go North toward Shuri or South toward Naha-Kuko.

Lastly, when you arrive at your destination station exit by inserting your ticket as you go through the opposite way as you did when entering. Regular ticket will disappear in to the slot but if you purchased an all-day pass, do not forget to pick it up on the other side. If you travel further then the ticket purchased, the gate will close and station staff will come to collect the remaining fare or you can pay the difference at the fare-adjustment window.

Operating times
- The first train starts each day at 06:00 and the last train departs at 23:30
- During rush hours 08:00 – 09:00 trains arrive at stations at 6.5 minute intervals
- The rest of the day trains arrive at station at 7.5 – 15 minute intervals


Regular Ticket (Futsu Joshaken)
The cost of fares is relative to the distance from starting station to destination station. Distances are rounded up to the nearest 1km. Children’s fares are half of adult's fares and are rounded up to nearest 10yen.

Pre-paid card (Yui card)
Pre-paid cards are a convenient way to use the monorail as you don’t have to think of the cost to each destination or take the time to use the ticket vending machines every time you go somewhere. Cards are available in 1000 yen, 3000 yen, and 5000 yen increments.

To buy a Yui Card simply put coins or bills in to a ticket vending machine and press the button showing "Card" and then the fare button. To use the card simply put it in the ticket slot when entering a gate the same way you would a ticket. Don’t forget to grab it on the other side when both entering and exiting a monorail station.

Multi-ride Ticket (Kaisuu Joshaken)
Multi-ride tickets are another way to save a bit of money on monorail fare. These passes are good for 6 month after the date of purchase.

To buy a multi-ride ticket put coins or bills (Yui cards can’t be used) into the ticket vending machine and press the "Kaisuuken" button and then the station button. Muli-ride Tickets are good for 10 rides.

Open ticket
If you are traveling around Naha for the day and plan on using the Yui Rail to see the sights, an open ticket might be your best option. These tickets allow for unlimited use of the monorail for one, two, or three days for a set price.

To purchase these tickets simply press the button on a ticket vending machine labeled "One day open ticket" and then the "1 day" “2 days” or “3 days” button.

If you have problems purchasing an open ticket and need to ask the station staff for help here are the Japanese names for them:

One day open ticket: "Ichinichi Joshaken"
Two days open ticket: "Futsuka Joshaken"
Three days open ticket: "Mikka Joshaken"

God Luck and Have Fun!

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