Where Do Dogs Go To Play On Okinawa?

Should You Bring The Kitchen Sink?

CONTRIBUTED BY MEREDITH NOVARIO

My neighbor here in Mizugama lets her dog out as if he’s a cat. Opens the door and off he goes. Leashless, human-less. So I suppose dogs can play anywhere. My dog got attacked by one of these unattached dogs while I was 17 months pregnant. Or at least I felt 17 months pregnant. ANYWAY, a question just came our way and although I have been here for two years and have a dog, I have no good answer.

Do you?

Where is a dog-friendly beach in the area? I went to Toguchi Beach with our girl and was having a wonderful time for about 3 minutes when a nice old man came down the sidewalk waving his arms at me saying, “No NO NO!”

64 COMMENTS

  1. Hello!

    I just recently became a happy owner of a puppy shiba inu. These posts are kind of old, so does anyone know where I can find a dog park or anything like it that has a closed fence where I can let him run free?

    Or just any other place on the island where he can interact with other dogs? Thanks!

    • Patrick,
      I have a year-old shiba, and I can tell you for one thing that they’re very escape-minded, so the Chibana dog park would not be a good place to take yours. There are holes in the fence, the main gate doesn’t close all the way, and there are kids who like to let dogs out of one of the other gates. Shibas also cannot be off-leash at any time (except at a dog park), for the same reason. Mine used to slip her collar and it was hell to get her back. I ended up getting a martingale collar for a while so she wouldn’t be able to get loose. That being said, if your shiba is social with other dogs like mine, he will probably interact with any dog he meets while he’s on leash, and even play with them a bit. I’d also recommend trying to get a fenced yard and meeting up with other dog owners for playdates.

    • Hello.

      There is a Kadena Force Support Dog Park located next to the Chibana Golf Course near Kadena Air Base. It is HUGE and has garbage bins for dog feces to be removed; bring your own doggie bags to pick it up. SOMETIMES the doggie bag dispensers are filled, but not very often. There is also a water fountain/spicket right outside the gate to fill up water dishes.

      Directions:

      From ON BASE KADENA: Head north on Douglas Ave to Gate 3. Exit Gate 3 and go straight through the light (on HWY 26). Turn left immediately after the fire station (within 500 ft of gate 3). Drive straight and slight turn left through the fenced gate. At the golf course turn right and park. The dog park is on the left of the parking lot.

      • I’ve also seen smaller dogs than Shiba Inu have no problems at the Chibana Dog Park. Don’t train your dog wrong and it wont be “escape-minded”.

  2. Wow, there are some disrespectful people here. Look, just because one person does it, doesn’t mean you should too. I saw an old guy standing on the side of the road peeing into a lilly garden, you gonna do that too? Holy cow. I am a bit embarrased to be an American right now. Look, everything we CHOOSE to do here is our responsibility. That said, Kurashiki is a great place to run/walk with you dog, but all places require leashes, no matter what the locals are doing. The water (which supplies our home off base too) is not for playing in. There is a beach by my house in Onna on the 58, right at the signs for Nakadomari. It is dog friendly, but it is also rocky and is like a shelf. It stays the same depth for a ways out. I have been taking my dog there for a while and we have met several other dogs there, but there are lots of fishermen in the area and they come out at low tide to hunt for sea creatures so we just make sure to not get in their way. There is a sign on the 6 headed from Nakadomari toward the 75(Camp Courtney) that says there is a dog cafe, and I believe you have to turn like you are going to the Royal Garden Resort. I have not been there yet. There is also a place on okinawayardsales.com that advertises pet friendly fenced space, a cafe and a dog only pool. Worth checking it out I suppose.
    Now, suck it up people, you live in another country and should feel blessed for the opportunity. Get the burr out of your sock and start enjoying your time here, it may never happen again! Thank you to all the people who actually posted about where to take your dogs, I appreciate the insight!

  3. Great post. I just went to the IShikawa beach today and had a lovely time with my Doberman. He enjoyed the freedom without a leash and running up and down the beach. Very friendly people there and good facilities. Very animal friendly!

  4. There is very dog friendly beach that is not that popular due to the location. Go up past Camp Courtney on 329 and right by the old Ishikawa city office is Shirahama Beach. It has plenty of parking and a great open leash free beach to enjoy. On the weekends it barely has that many people and you can see the few dog owners running their dogs on the beach and water. You can pass by the beach on the back road short cut from Courtney to Hansen and it has old stone looking walls there.

  5. On Kurashiki, I take my dog there often. He plays in the water. Kids and adults play in the water. If they can, with their filthy feet and hands, so can my dog. There is bits of litter in the water sometimes and I’ve seen children spit and urinate in it. I’m not too worried about “potable” water that’s treated like that.

  6. Sunabe Baba Park always has lots of dogs at the beach and park. They are supposed to be on a leash though. It is a housing area and a our kids do play at the park and beach. The locals usually unleash there pets but it is against the rules. And there are a bunch of cats/kittens and one person living on or near the beach. Also, sea urchins in the water, as well metal and glass, so wear your booties.

  7. I would suggest that if you go to Kurashiki that you not allow them in the water. The dams here are used for the potable water supply, and while it is treated before it goes to consumers, I know people wouldn’t look kindly on pets playing in their water supply.

  8. Yay! So…. from the thread, i got a list of dog-friendly beaches/areas:

    Sunabe BaBa park (dolphin park)
    Kadena Marina
    Kurashiki Dam
    Maeda Flats
    Toguchi Beach (must be leashed…?)

    so far so good?

  9. I was up at Maeda Flats this weekend and saw some dogs at some of the little beaches there. They were swimming as well.

  10. Amen Deanna Purslow! I was wondering if there was a sandy beach somewhere/anywhere I could take my lab off leash to swim. The coral hurts her feet. If I would have known how unfriendly this place was to dogs I would have considered leaving her with my parents for 3 years. Coming from a place that is so dog friendly I find it hard living here. Please help me find a place to unwind with my pooch. 🙂

  11. We had 3 dogs that we left in the states and brought our two girls. Once we got here, we realized we couldn’t go without a dog and adopted a local boy. Alot of nasty things have been said here about dog owners. And while they feel and seem justified, this is not intended as a place to gripe as to why we shouldn’t love our pets as part of the family. We are ‘inconvienced’ by him as much as our baby. Meaning by finding places compaitable to them. Sanitary issues are nearly the same for babies as dogs. Example, saw little girl squating and peeing on sand last week while daddy was sleeping. As much care needs to go into both. That’s why people see their pets as their children. This tread was intended to help those that do have pets and no realible means of finding proper information. As for privalege, yes they are. But so is being able to bring family here. But because that privalege is allowed, other factors need to then be tied in. But this is not the location to vent. If you wish start up another thread. Back to topic, the info I found here is wonderful, much better than guessing wrong and having a bad outing.

  12. In some ways I wish I wouldn’t have pcs’d with my dog. The heat makes him miserable during the warm months. The flea/tick problem is bad, even on a preventative. Vet care can be very difficult to access. There really aren’t any good places to exercise dogs. And any type of traveling I do requires expensive petsitting fees, and also requires me to plan ahead- no spur of the moment getaways. I should have taken my parents up on their offer to keep him with them for the three years. He would have been happier.

  13. This is not a dog beach on Okinawa, but there is a restaurant called Manger, and you can bring your dog and sit in a closed-in grassed patio area and eat there. The restaurant is near The Rose Garden. If you pass the Rose Garden (The Rose Garden being on your left), drive until you come to the stop light/intersection where McDonald’s is to your left. Turn right, and go up the hill. You should see the sign “Manger”. It is closed on Wednesdays. They serve pizza, pasta, salads, and appetizers.

  14. Brianna- Heartfelt is no longer open- at least not in the same spot on 6. I’ve been on the lookout for it to reopen in another location, but nothing yet.

  15. Well, I’ve been reading through these comments, but I just have one question. Is it worth bringing my dog to Japan with me when I go in February? Right now, he is crated while I’m at work, but I take him to the dog park everyday to get some exercise in. And by exercise, I mean he is off leash running around with other dogs. Is there an actual, designated, fenced in area over there for dogs to do those such things. Thank you.

  16. Just curious Brianna, what kind of dog do you have? Also if you look on Okinawa Yard Sales, there is someone that has regular doggie playdates. I have never been to one, but they seem to have plenty of regulars!
    I have never actually taken my doggies off base because I am afraid to get ‘in trouble’. I have kids and dogs…. at least the dogs don’t talk back 🙂

  17. Can anyone please tell me if indeed the Heartfelt Dog Resort is still on 6? Should I still follow the directions in the ‘To Eat’ section?

  18. Brianna- I was born and raised here on Okinawa. We have brought our dog to the beach at Sunabe Ba Ba (Dolphin Park) and nobody has ever told us to leave. Except most beaches do not allow dogs at all, in or out of the water. The Okinawans do not like to allow dogs at the beaches for several reasons. The first is health and safety of other beach users. The second is to protect the marine life. Honestly, at the beach we go to, you can see why dogs are not allowed on many beaches. There are some very inconsiderate visitors who do not clean up after their dogs and it has been downright disgusting when we have visited there a few times- To the point where we just turned around and left.

  19. so umm. i’m new here and I haven’t really read a definite answer to this question. I want to know 100% if dogs are allowed on any beach around kandea.. before I drive off base and get lost for several hours trying to find one to only get kicked out. And when i say beach i mean an actual beach where my dog can get in the water. Thanks.

  20. Yikes! Since when was this original post about the rights and privileges of pet owners?! Take a chill pill everyone!!

    Though I feel I have to justify my CHOICE to get a dog to strangers, I am very thankful to those who have posted helpful ideas on places where I CAN take my dog so he can play safely and legally. I will have to check them soon!! If any new ideas arise, please pass them along!

  21. Ok folks, it’s time to take a deep breath and chill. While I agree that having pets is a privilege, I don’t think the idea of a dog park is that crazy. I think what most dog owners that have mentioned it want is a safe place to socialize their dogs. In regards to the comment about people not being forced to have pets, people aren’t forced to have kids either. My 2 year old mutt is definitely better behaved than most 2 year old kids I’ve met.

    • I am with you. We have been military forever and retirement is in the near future and we have had pets our whole military lives. Each duty station has had some sort of dog park. Yes, just like anything else, rules and regulations are necessary for the benefit of all. However, pet ownership requires responsibility and like I said before, if you are not willing to endure the redtape required to transport your pet then perhaps the pet should be rehomed NOT ABANDONED. Otherwise, just as we are, paying a serious amount of money to get our pets to Okinawa must mean something about the pet owner.

      • There is a dog park on Kadena that opened this past Saturday. It is located on Chibana, very close to the golf course.

  22. You are very mistaken. On an overseas military base, it is most definitely a priviledge (and not a necessity) to own a pet. The military does not owe you the right to own a pet. If they did, there would not be tower living where no pets are allowed, where you could wind up living without much say in the matter. I have lived at an installation where there were no pets allowed- period. When people with pets received orders there, the military didn’t care how long they had Fido or Fluffy. In addition, I remember having suitcases packed and sitting in the hallway, ready to evacuate at a moments notice when the war broke out in Iraq. We were warned ahead of time that pets would not be evacuated with us.

  23. I have both dogs and kids. My point was that any of our family members can cause problems. As adults, we should be responsible enough to correct any problem that comes up from them. As for it being a priviledge to have a dog – give me a break! I’ve had my dogs for years, way before coming here. I am trying to come up with a solotion to the problem that exits, not debate IF it should exist. Finally, maybe the suicide and depression rate would be less so if everyone had a furry friend. It’s been proven.

    • I agree! I am a psychology major and now graduate, it is absolutely true that pets bring a particular joy to many. Consider the use of service dogs in hospitals. Many people are very ill with various diseases some of which Calain speaks of that animals are brought in and used to improve patient conditions by the simplicity of companionship and unconditional love. Therefore, I believe that animals are a part of the lives of many and I feel that this very aspect, expecially a responsible pet owner (up to date health certificate, immunizations, etc.) should be a very important consideration. Also, some people can not have children and having a pet helps in some ways to fill that emptiness associated with that longing. Consider the comfort that having your pet with you if you were sent to an unfamiliar overseas place. so much redtape is involved with transporting pets to Japan and I feel that if someone is willing to go through all of those expensive procedures to bring their pet with them, not to mention enduring a possible 14 day quarantine or longer once arrival to the island, then by all means families with furry friends should be well accomodated. Obviously, Calain has not know the companionship of owning a pet and the joy that it brings.

  24. Kim, I think someone hit the nail on the head when they said that having a pet here is a priviledge and not an entitlement. Comparing animals to kids is just plain silly. I won’t even go into why that is just so wrong.

    Nobody forced you to get a pet. You made that choice, hopefully, being fully aware of the hardships it might cause your family. You accepted that responsibility and the possibility that it might be expensive or inconvenient at times.

    Dog parks are not all they’re cracked up to be. My neighbor brought her dog to a dog park. Guess what her dog contracted. Parvo, and it almost died. Our local vet in the States was warning people not to bring their dogs to our local dog park because dogs were picking up illnesses and diseases there.

    Just because your quality of life depends on your pet’s happiness does not mean that should be the jumping-off point for our leaders to improve base conditions. Again, silly. How about putting human needs and concerns first, and then worrying about animals? When we have husbands and wives who are in harms way on a regular basis, high depression rates, increasing suicide rates, and mysterious health conditions popping up all over the military community, I think anyone can see where quality of life issues lie.

    • Immunization is futile if one owns a pet period. Not just for the benefit of the pet but most importantly their people. I think that this should be concrete for everyone. If a pet is immunized, the liklihood of parvo is slim. I have taken my dogs to parks their whole lives, and have no issues. If you speak to many pet owners who truly care for their pets, you’ll find that they have had no issues either with pet parks. However, if a pup has missed a series of vaccinations or is not up to date then yes you are putting your pet at risk and that is your own responsibility. Dog parks usually are VERY specific about do and don’ts. If you take your pet and can’t produce some sort of record of vaccination then your out. And also they have a contact number if any responsible pet owner discovers or witnesses improper behavior of others pets. There are many considerations and ways of controlling hazards at dog parks. We immunize our children,as we should immunize our pets to control disease. It’s common sense.

  25. Dogs need to be able to run and play. Base housing does not have fences nor do they sell the supplies at a resonable rate. Instead we scrounge around for pieces of fencing. Buying new is very expensive, but trying to find fencing on Okinawa Yard Sales is next to impossible. The fence is sold within seconds of posting. That being said, we need a safe place for dogs to play. A dog park. Just about every city in the states has one and problems are few. How can we not have easier, cheaper access to fencing and at the same time, have no where to safely let our dogs run. As for safety, I know kids that are more dangerous than my dogs! I agree that not cleaning up after your pet is disgusting and just plain rude. Maybe we need some more trash cans and dog waste bag stations, that you see at many parks in the states. Our bases have a ton of open grassy space. If quality of life is a concern to our leaders, then maybe they should start with our pets.

  26. I think that some people don’t know that they are supposed to keep their dogs on leashes. I was walking mine a couple days ago, and these people had their dog out in their yard without a leash and it started barking and chasing after me and my dogs. Luckily, the owner caught it before it got really close to us. It would be nice for a place to take dogs, as long as people were responsible with their pets.

  27. I know that plans are in the works for a fenced dog park area behind the Courtney pet tower. It’s my understanding the plans are done and the funds are in place, they are just awaiting allocation. As for the liability issue, I am sure there will signs similar to those posted at stateside off leash parks stating that any liability is accepted upon entrance and aggressive pets are not allowed.

  28. I think part of the pet problem here on base is that some pet owners (some, not all) are confused on what pet ownership for a military family overseas means. That the military allows you to have a pet while on an overseas assignment is a priviledge, not an entitlement. The military does not owe anybody a dog park, or the resources that would go into maintaining it. I agree with Calain- The few can ruin it for the many.

    And all of the sports fields on base are used by either the youth center or squadrons. Some of them can only be used for some sports though, so they may not be used for a season. That doesn’t mean they aren’t used though.

    • I think some are confused that while it is a privilege to have your pet overseas the same could be said for your dependents. For some, a pet is like a family member and having a dog park makes perfect sense. There are many parks on base for children, and, I’ve been at many that look as if the trash has been sitting there for a long time. You see soda cans/bottles, food wrappers, chewed candy left on playground equipment, broken playground equipment from misuse and my personal favorite, vandalism. Who is paid to maintain these parks? Why couldn’t the same service being used to clean and maintain the children parks be used to clean and maintain a dog park? It would actually require LESS maintenance. Some grass cutting and maybe a little picking up after some lazy dog owners.

      I understand this may sound mean, and I don’t mean to say there are a lot of bad parents out there, but I would feel confident in saying that most parents are comfortable with leaving their childrens trash on a picnic table or on the ground for someone else to clean up then a pet owner is to leave their dogs droppings behind for someone else to pick up.

      Just my thoughts

  29. A dog park on base? First of all, Kadena (and I think most other bases) are leash law bases. They require you to have your dog on a leash when out away from your home. They’ve had too many incidents of dog bites and dog-on-dog aggression not to require leashes. Second, I know when I go walking around my neighborhood, I see disgusting piles of dog poo next to the sidewalk about every ten feet or so. Since so many pet owners on base think they don’t need to clean up after their pets while on a walk, can you imagine what a mess it would be inside a dog park?! Who would maintain a dog park? Who is liable if a pet gets aggressive?

    I realize not everyone here is an irresponsible pet owner. But it seems that for every responsible and considerate pet owner, there are five irresponsible and inconsiderate ones who make life less pleasant for everyone else.

    • So I realize that this is rather old, but, there is a dog park that’s been open for about a year now! It’s over in the Chibana recreation area (it shares a parking lot with the Chibana Golf Course). My husband and I really pushed for it, and they converted an unused soccer field into a dog park, and it has agility equipment!

  30. “Due to health issues, dogs are not allowed inside any of the baseball fields. Those fields are used for squadron and youth sports and dogs do not belong on them. If you see anyone inside the sports fields with their dogs, it’s because they either don’t know they are not allowed or they don’t care… (I’d go with the latter since most any field I see has a No Dogs sign on the outside of it).
    Same policy goes for Kadena Marina. Please, we know you love your dogs, but not everyone wants to play and swim where your dog pees and poops.”

    Well, sounds like they need a dog park. There’s several ball fields that aren’t even used. Ones that don’t even have lighting systems for night/evening play. I suggest one of those.

  31. Just wanted to post that I believe the Hartfelt Dog Resort is now closed…It has been for some time…They were going to relocate, but have not done so yet.

  32. Due to health issues, dogs are not allowed inside any of the baseball fields. Those fields are used for squadron and youth sports and dogs do not belong on them. If you see anyone inside the sports fields with their dogs, it’s because they either don’t know they are not allowed or they don’t care… (I’d go with the latter since most any field I see has a No Dogs sign on the outside of it).
    Same policy goes for Kadena Marina. Please, we know you love your dogs, but not everyone wants to play and swim where your dog pees and poops.

  33. are there any inclosed areas where my two over exploratory labradors can play?I have read your previous post, just want to make sure that my dogs are somewhat safe and in a free place to roam. I have only seen once on Camp Kinser where people let there dog run free inside one of the baseball fields. Can anyone help?

  34. (let me try this again since I posted it in the Karate blog…stupid me)

    Hi Everyone,

    I am wondering if any one can help me with my question. I would like to know if anyone is aware of the Okinawa Dog Shows that are put on for pure bred dogs. If you know of any pls let me know.
    thanks

  35. There is a dog friendly cafe/resort in Onna called the Heartful Dog Resort that caters to owners and their dogs. They have a fenced in dog run area and a private beach with access for dogs. I also live right across from Toguchi Beach and often see dogs galore. Although there are signs that say “NO DOGS ALLOWED.” Hardly anyone actually follow the rules. I can’t say it’s mostly the “gaijins” who break the rules because I’ve seen more than a few locals with their dogs there too.

  36. You can walk your dogs at Araha Park. They just aren’t allowed on the beach itself. They have to be on a leash at all times.

    Also – toward the end of the summer just before the annual pool cleaning, MCCS opens the pools for dogs for a day. They advertise it, but not heavily so you have to keep your ears open.

  37. My lab LOVES to jump in the car and head to the beach whenever possible! Here is what I have learned durring our year stay here!…
    Kadena Marina=no dong allowed on beach area, grass area is fine though (go figure).
    sunabe baba park beach (the beach behind the park)=named “dog beach” for a reason =)
    Araha beach=A big NONO on dogs there.
    “concrete slide beach” I dont know the name of this park or beach, but its right past the starbucks in the diaso and maxvalue shopping center near Torri= I have seen a few dogs there and we have never been told to leave w/ our pup! seems pretty dog friendly to me!

    Other then these places I tend to stick to a few secluded beaches we know of. If you can find one, that is your best bet!
    If anyone wants info on Heartfelt Dog “resort” let me know! Its AWSOME there! =) (sorry to ramble…but I LOVE to share our dog friendly places and NEED to find more!)

  38. I know this is a late addition to this post, but you can NEVER be too careful with your dogs in Okinawa. In October, friends were keeping our dogs at their off base home while we were in Hawaii for medical. The friends left them outside overnight, and they got out of the yard. Both were found dead the next morning. PLEASE do not let your dogs off leash anywhere on the island. According to a local, some people leave out poison to get rid of the strays.

  39. I’ve seen dozens of dogs at Kadena Marina beach and have never seen anyone ask them to leave any of the times I’ve been there. PPL take their dogs there to play and swim. The “official” policy may be no dogs but it’s ignored from what I can tell.

  40. I take my dog to Maeda Flats and let him loose! I see the locals doing it all the time, and I’ve never had anyone discourage me from doing it either. Just please be considerate of other people and children that are trying to enjoy the beach as well. Oh, and please don’t forget a bag for Fido’s droppings.

  41. If you were at Toguchi, I’m assuming you live near Torii. I like to take my puppy to the beach on the left side of Torii’s public beach. If you go into the fenced parking lot, follow the gravel road on the left it’ll lead you down to a stretch of beach. There is some debri so be careful. After we play in the sand and water, I run her for a few minutes on the grassy field to clean her up a bit. Enjoy!

  42. I concur with dtjb. Sunabe Ba-Ba park does seem to be dog-friendly at the beach area. Also, about a 5-min. walk from there is a small neighborhood park that everyone calls “Dog Park” w/a small field for them to run around. The park also has a swing set and metal slide and is located behind “The Beach” hotel.

  43. Have you tried Araha Beach yet? They have a great walking path there and I always see people walking their dogs. Not sure if they’re allowed on the beach itself but you can give it a try.

  44. Hi,
    glad to hear you’re adjusting well to Okinawa! I have seen quite a few people walking around Sunabe ba ba (Dolphin Park) with their dogs. Check this site under parks and playgrounds for directions.

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