I have one of those final-to-see checklists now that I only have one month left here. There is a spot on my checklist for “I always drive by that sign/ or store- now is the time to check it out’.  I often drive by the Futnema shrine on the way to pick up my son, and I happened to have my camera and twenty minutes. So here I paused.

If you don’t get the opportunity to get to mainland Japan to see the shrines, you should check out the Futenma shrine. It’s a spiritual exerience. There are people there at all times of the day. I couldn’t help but wonder what they were thinking about. Probably the same things that people back home are thinking that stop by their local places of worship.

I am always surpringsly moved when I go to a shrine. I’m not sure if it’s the smells, the serenity or just the fact that although I can’t understand any of the words- I get it. It’s just a good place to pause and reflect.

Onward with the details:

Below is a photo of omikuji – which you can purchase at the shrine.


You can also purchase these wooden hanging plaques for 300 yen. They are called ema. From what I could read, they seemed to be peoples prayers and wishes for the upcoming year. I did notice however, lots of hearts.



Upon entering the shrine you will find this water display. The purpose is to clean your hands and the inside of your mouth before entering the shrine. Good thing I flossed.


The “Rope” below hanging on the Torii gate is called a shimenawa. They usually hang this on Torii gates and apparently the best sumo wrestler also wears one during special ceremonies. I wonder if it is in front-or behind of the T-Back?


Futenma Shrine

Address: Japan, 〒901-2202 Okinawa Prefecture, Ginowan, 普天間1丁目27−10

GPS Coordinates: 26.2928667, 127.7770667

Directions: The shrine is just south of Camp Foster and Camp Buckner. However, the turn-off will sneak up on you. You can only enter when you are driving in the north lane of Highway 330. There is a middle divider blocking you if you are driving south. When you do turn off, it may not be apparent where you are supposed to pull in. There is a driveway to the right of the Torii Gate as you are looking at it. Drive through there and it will take you to the parking lot. Parking is free.


    • There is not an entrance fee as this is a place of worship. There are boxes in which you can deposit coins though while offering up a prayer. This week’s edition of Stripes Okinawa (available at the shoppettes, post offices, etc.) has a great write up on the Shrines and Temples.

  1. from what I think I read somewhere (I’ll see if I can find it) you can take pictures of the area and the buildings, but not of the inside of the shrine where the altar and all the important things are. But maybe some one more knowledgeable than me should chip in.

  2. Ok so no photos of the shrine, wash your hands and mouth, anything else? I know at other foreign holy sites I’ve been to visitors are not permitted to show their shoulders and/or should wear a long skirt, etc. Could someone post the full set of traditional rules and protocol when visiting holy sites in Japan?

  3. Marlene- Thanks for the info! I’ll have to check out the cave! And honestly, after I was done taking pics I did see a sign (a camera crossed out) so I really shouldn’t have been.Not sure why it had a festival feel- maybe New Years?

  4. Marlene/Staci, do you have to pay to enter the cave? Is it one big cave or a series of caves? How long does it take to see it? Is there a separate entrance? We went there this past January to experience the whole “festival feel” and it was awesome at the Shrine, I thought we’d be rude taking pictures, but the Japanese were acting more “party” than “solomn” they were laughing and snapping pictures left and right. However, there were so many people, we couldn’t figure out where to go to get to the cave.

  5. For those who will still be on the island for new year’s 2010, you should go check this place out then. It is something like a mix of holiday festival, religious experience, and local fair (with Japanese-style fair food). Some of you may have noticed all the cars parked all up and down 81 for the first week of January.

  6. Great post. I live right down the road on Foster and have wanted to visit. I just never took the time, plus I wasn’t sure what to do and didn’t want to offend anyone there! Now I know. Must have clean hands and mouth!!