Mono front

Riding the “train” is one of my daughter’s favorite things to do here on Okinawa. Every time she sees it passing overhead the next words out of her mouth invariably are, “Can we go ride the train? Please, Mommy!!” Every time we do ride it, it is the highlight of her day. And it is so easy and cheap!
Don’t be dismayed by almost everything you see at the ticket machines being in kanji. There is a big, backlit schematic of the rail line with stops labelled in both kanji and english, grouped into sets of 3 for prices. The stop where you are buying your ticket is clearly labelled. Look at the stops and determine where you want to go and what the price bracket is. Now comes the fun part – approaching the touch-screen ticket machine.

Mono station board

This part really is all in kanji. What I do is pick one distinctive (usually more simple) character to match up with the characters I see on the touch screen in my destination price bracket. The vertical row of buttons along the side (actual buttons, not part of the touch screen) allows you to select buying tickets for one adult (an image of a single person, like on restroom decals), multiple people, an adult with a child (stroller age is free, elementary age is a child fare, I believe), and some other options I have not yet used. Select the number of tickets, match your destination kanji, insert your yen, get your ticket. What you have bought is a one-way ticket.

Mono screen

If you are standing there staring at the screens and the buttons and are just totally dumbfounded as to what to do (as I was the very first time I tried this out), have no fear – the attendants at the service window all seem to speak very helpful english and will gladly show you what to do or answer your questions.

After you put your ticket through the turn-style thing, grab it when it pops back up on the other side so you will have it at your destination. At this point you will need to figure out if the particular station you are at has a central platform for all trains (usually there will be a sign that says something along the lines of “All trains”), or if you need to determine which side you need to be on. Does the direction you are heading ultimately end at the airport (Naha kuko) or Shuri? If you make a mistake, it is no big deal, you’ll just have to walk downstairs and around to the other side.

The monorail does go to all sorts of useful areas around Naha, where we all know parking can be a problem. You can also buy day passes (open ticket), multi-ride passes, and pre-paid fare cards to suit your needs. The little trains are, of course, neat and tidy. First train is at 0600, last train at 2330. The individual stations are labelled in both english and kanji, and the station announcements are clear and easy to understand.

Parking:  This can be a bit complicated.  The monorail seems to have been built for people to walk to and then travel on.  There aren’t many park & ride lots like you might be used to in the States.  Please comment if you have a favorite parking spot for jumping onto the monorail.

For some additional information, this site may be helpful.


  1. We just rode the monorail today and had a great experience. We followed the directions to the Prefectural Museum and parked at the mall right next to the monorail station. We pulled into the parking of the DFS store, then went up a short escalator and were able to walk over to the monorail station. We bought a ticket for 290 yen that took us all the way to the airport. We watched the planes come and go, ate lunch and then bought another ticket and came back. It was very easy and the parking was so convenient we didn’t even get wet because the walkways were all covered! It was a great day!
    Directions: take the 58 into Naha, then turn left at the third light after going over the bridge right After Kinser. It’s the same intersection you turn on for ToysRUs. Follow it down and then left just before the DFS store (It’s a tall store on your left that is part of the mall.) Take a right into the parking garage.

  2. We also found the monorail attendants to be very helpful & friendly–in fact, we ended up buying our tickets at the window instead of using the machine because we couldn’t locate the Day Pass option. If you let them know where you’re headed, they’ll even give you a map.

  3. I recently rode the monorail for the first time. We parked at Main Place San A parking garage (also near the DFS mall parking and the Prefectural Museum). You can get there by taking Exit 2 from the expressway then an easy drive on 330. We rode the line down to Kokusai Dori and watched the tug of war.

    Riding the monorail here is probably a good warm-up to riding the rail system in Tokyo and main land. Ticketing works on the same premise, but on a much larger scale with many lines.