CONTRIBUTED BY AMY MADDOCKS
The randomness of this island never ceases to amaze me. I love that little parks, shrines, or random historical sites are sometimes located in the middle of a busy street or surrounded by modern buildings. We came upon one such little beauty the other day called Hamagawa Ugan.
This place is considered a prayer site with records showing it being used as early as the 11th century. It is still considered a place of worship today. Long ago, people would climb the rock and pray from the top. It is too dangerous to climb now, but evidence of modern worship surrounds its base.
It also is encircled by one of the oldest trees still living on Okinawa. The caretaker of the area told us it is over 200 years old. So cool! The crazy thing is, most people have seen the tree every day they travel on the 58 by Kadena. It is in plain sight if you know where to look, but to really appreciate the beauty and splendor you need to see it up close!
Directions: This location is at the intersection of the 58 and 23, right before Kadena Gate 1. At that intersection is a store called “Music Lab” and a pet store called “Sunabe Suien.” Right between the two stores is a driveway for the music store. In the back is a parking lot, and if you park there, you can’t miss the tree. Park in the lot and look up—it’s that simple! You can also see the tree from the road. It’s absolutely huge. There is a path going around half of the tree you can take to see different shrines. There were signs warning of the Habu snake, but we didn’t see any when we went.
You can also get there from the street behind the music store. If you are traveling south on 58, turn right at the light right past the 23. Then take your first right and drive down the road a little bit. You’ll see the back entrance of the music store and the tree on your right.