Civic Center Park or Yaejima Koen

CONTRIBUTED BY JULIE BROWN AND JENNIFER STARCHER

Let me just start by saying, “Okinawans really know how to build a park.”

Not long ago, I decided to take my daughter to Yaeshima Park, also known as Civic Center Park.  I was amazed as I entered the park.  It is broken into different play areas and is perfect for the child who wants a little bit of everything. There are three different play areas: There is a TODDLER PLAY AREA with a wooden slide.  Also there’s a thrill-a-minute DROP SLIDE and a wooden treehouse attached to a ROLLERSLIDE.

There are picnic tables, plenty of trees for shade and plenty of grass to run and play.  The park is kind of stretched out so when you enter the park, just keep following the path and then you will find the slides and various play areas.

Needless to say, I was so impressed with the huge rollerslide that I decided to give it a try.  Not wanting to look foolish, I made my daughter ride with me so I could look like I was “helping her.”  When I got to the top, I had to take a picture looking down the slide.

Civic

Then it hit me, why not video going down the rollerslide.  Here is a video of my daughter and I going down the rollerslide.  You can hear the rollers as you slide down, such a cool sound!  Be careful though because you will pick up enough speed at the end to get thrown off.  This slide was so much fun that I decided I didn’t care who saw me and started sliding without my daughter.

I do suggest that when you go on a rollerslide, take a piece of cardboard to sit on.  It will help you to go faster and give you a little padding for your bottom.  We had so much fun and spent quite a while sliding on the rollerslide.

Civic drop It started getting late so I decided we would go back to the drop slide and give it a try.  I must confess that when I saw this slide, it really scared me!  Then, I saw these little Japanese kids dropping from the top and I decided that I too must do this.  It is quite scary looking down but I finally got up enough nerve and made the drop.  It was indeed fun!  I did talk my daughter into sliding one time but that was it!

We had a great time and will be going back.  My daughter wants to pack a picnic lunch and stay longer next time.

In the Spring the cherry blossoms here are beautiful. In the summer, it’s shady and cool. However, be sure to bring bug spray in the summer because the mosquitoes can be pesky.

Directions:  The park is just about few minutes from Kadena Gate 2.  Leave the gate and turn left onto 23 and then get in the right lane.  After the second light, there will be a right turning lane to turn into the Civic Center, turn there.

Parking:  This can be a challenge but there are three places that you can park:  in the parking lot at the Civic Center, on the street that runs beside the Civic Center and the park or there is a large parking lot just after the park.  When it is time for you to leave, I suggest you turn around and go back the way you came.  Don’t try to find your way out.  The streets are very narrow and have lots of curves and turns.  I got lost for a while and somehow ended up on 329 heading toward Kadena gate 3!

30 COMMENTS

  1. I came back to Okinawa this June again after 3 years in the states. My kids and I use to frequent this roller slide when we were here from 2008 to 2013. We visited it yesterday and the roller slide was no longer there. It has been replaced by a playground more suitable for younger kids.

  2. March 2016 update!
    The roller slide is gone.
    They totally renovated and built a new playground set up.
    They are currently renovating the drop slide and the playground at the bottom of the hill.

    • Thanks so much for letting us know! Would love for you to contribute an updated post when the park’s construction is complete. 🙂

  3. My son and I went to this park on August 15, 2014. I did not see the enormous (and awesome-looking) roller slide at all. Perhaps it is in another area of the park away from the playgrounds, or maybe it has been removed. There was a smaller slide. Even though it wasn’t a roller slide, we both really enjoyed it. The drop-slide mentioned is closed and very neglected. It doesn’t appear to be opening any time soon. I thought the park was a bit overgrown, and took extra caution in checking for hazards as we were walking. However, it was beautiful! We did find an interesting area behind the closed drop-slide. There were two sets of stone steps that led to a shrine (?) and then up to a stone lookout tower. There was an amazing view of the city below. Overall, the park seemed slightly unkempt – the bathrooms were usable (but not very clean), there was litter (but I also didn’t see many trashcans), and it wasn’t what we were led to believe it would be. BUT we did enjoy our adventure, and I would go back (maybe even with a trash bag to clean up a bit).

    • Just updating the current status of the park. Went today–September 30, 2014–and the roller slide is still closed (it’s been closed since we moved here over a year ago) BUT the drop-slide was open and working. My boys both enjoyed using it. Parts of the park were still overgrown but they had trimmed up around the playground areas so no concerns for us.

  4. Roller slide still broken- we went Sept.6, 2013. The park seemed overgrown and the drop slide was not well kept up either. Wonder why they have let it get so overgrown and run down?

    • Went yesterday….didn’t read this comment. But it’s still broken. Gonna try the roller slide in nishihara….you can see that one when ur on the expressway going towards exit 2

  5. My family went looking for this park today and ended up at a completely different one lol it was an awesome park but I’m curious about how we went wrong. We followed the directions but ended up at an okinawa gymnasium anyone have any ideas?

    • Rhian — I double checked the map pin just now and it is correct. Maybe taking a look at that would help? Let me know if you find it — it’s a GREAT park!

  6. I just visited this park yesterday for the first time with my kids and loved it! The park itself is beautiful and filled with shady winding paths and exotic (at least to me) vegetation. There are three different play areas that my kids were thrilled to discover when exploring through the wooded paths. When you leave Kadena Gate 2 make sure to take the immediate FIRST left onto a small unmarked road. This road is actually a ramp that will lead you down to the highway. You will pass a huge 100 YEN store on your right and the Civic Center. I took a U-turn after the Civic Center and parked on the highway directly in front of the park (you will see the big roller slide from the street). Bring lunch! Your kids will not want to leave. :’}

  7. Love, love, LOVE! this park. The kids always have a great time. The roller slide is so fun, and the playground area is wonderful. They do have a wooden type slide that is not very fast at all, perhaps if you brought a small rug to sit on it would be much faster. The best part of all is how close it it the the base, making it a great last minute adventure.

  8. Hi. I was wondering if someone can give me easier and more detailed directions (i.e landmarks or major buildings) to this park. I was looking it up on Google maps and it doesnt recognize the name of this park so I’m really confused. I am coming from Gate 2 on Kadena. Please let me know. Thank you!

  9. We went to this park today. Came from Courtney and the directions said to turn on 23. However, leaving Kadena gate 2 you turn Left onto 85!! It was a bit confusing with the incorrect road but we found our way.

  10. i been on this site reading everything from anything, me and my two kids 4yr girl n 1yr boy got here last week , n this i all i wanted to do, take my kids out to all these parks. and this was the 1st one we went to. we LOVED it, it was so much fun and thanks for letting me kno we need cardboard boxes, because it helped allot. At some point during the slide i’d lose the box n had to feel the burn, but all in all. its nice to finally be here..if u havent been here u should go, its great for kids n grown ups, they also a playground around the corner its a nice walk..

  11. Which parking lot is better and closer to the playground area?

    Where in respect to the main building across from the Korinza is the playground area?

    Please be more specific. Thank you.

  12. I dont know if you can throw a bday party there but do it anyways, the natives would let you know right away. If you want to the locals to leave you alone buy Orion beer and share LOL I am just joking but I dont see it hurting any LOL

  13. Thanks for the video! That was great. We’re coming for a visit in April and I know my two younger children will love it (heck, I’m going to visit my 23 year old and I think he’ll love it too!!) THANKS!

  14. I live in an apartment building directly to the noth of Yaejima park and love it! My balcony looks over some of the paths and all the trees.
    I often walk through the park watching kids (and parents) on the slides and playground. On weekday mornings you will find a large group of Okainawan senior citizens playing gateball, (similar to our croquet) they love to meet Americans, especially those with children. I agree with Jo, the best place to park is on Hwy 23 at the curb.

  15. We just found out last week we will be PCSing to Kadena in June. My kids have watched your roller slide video over and over and over again. They can’t wait to try it out!

  16. You can buy rollerslide “sleds” at Toysrus. They are small enough to keep in your car (our rollerslide park visits are rarely planned…) and they are under 1,000 yen. I’ve also seen them, occasionally, at the 100yen store inside the Mihama Makeman.
    By the way, you should not park in the Civic Center parking lot. I received a “nasty gram” on my windshield that my car would be towed the next time I parked there. I always park on the side of Hwy 23.

  17. I will have to find that park. We moved close to a park that has one of those roller blade slides and it is easily my children’s favorite attraction! I gotta try that drop slide though.

  18. A friend recommended using cheap laundry baskets to slide down the roller slides, and they work perfectly. We bought some $5 blue ones at the BX, and they are large enough for an adult, and are great for helping with balance. Be careful, because they will really make you fly down. Make sure there are no kiddos on the slide ahead of you or you will crash into them.

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