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Igimi Hakinzo Observation Deck in Ogimi, Okinawa

Igimi Hakinzo Observation Desk in Ogimi Township offers a great view of the oceans and the mountains in Okinawa's north.

An awesome view is always worth a long trip in the car and, for many people, a long climb up a seemingly endless staircase or winding mountain path as well. Taking in the view from the Igimi Hakinzo Observation Deck only requires a car ride.

I’ve only been there once. It was at night when I went with a friend who wanted to do some astrophotography with his telescope. I wanted the chance to take some long-exposure night photos from a place I’d never been to before, so I agreed to go. He set up his telescope and took shots of the stars when the clouds gave him a break. I took shots of him as he lined up the north star and calibrated his tracking software.

For people who like photography, this image is a two-layer composite mixing a 4-minute exposure of the sky and platform (empty) with a 13-second exposure (without moving the camera) of the subject using a hand-held speedlite. The subject was blended into the background with Photoshop. The featured image for this post was taken at night, lit only by the full moon.

Kevin Price setting up his telescope on the observation deck in Ogimi

At the Top of Ogimi

You’ve gotta hand it to the Japanese and Okinawan governments for making it so easy to get out and enjoy a nice view. Just park, walk up two flights of stairs and you become witness to a beautiful 360-degree panorama, with the ocean to the northwest and an incredible mountain vista to the south.

The observation deck is open 24 hours a day so you can go any time, and there is a toilet there, so you don’t have to worry about being too far away from civilization. The building is nothing special, but with a full moon and a strong wind pushing low-altitude cloud banks across an otherwise clear sky, it makes for kind of an interesting picture.

The platform at Igimi Hakinzo in the light of the full moon

If you like to go for walks, you can take a stroll down the road that winds down the mountain to the west. There is a sidewalk that runs most of the way, so it’s a nice, pleasant safe walk with dense forest on either side. Just remember that the hill is fairly steep, so what feels like a short walk down the hill will seem like a much longer journey back up it. But, if you’re not in a rush, this is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise.

If you’re reading this, chances are you are approaching Ogimi from the south. If so, you might want to keep a few things in mind.

First, the nearest convenience store is about a 15-minute drive away, so if you want food or drinks to keep you going, you might want to stop at the Lawson on the coast before turning onto the road that takes you up the mountain.

Second, depending on the time of day, traffic can be absolutely insane around the Nago area, particularly if there is construction, so plan accordingly.

Third, while the view from the Igimi Hakinzo is breathtaking, it isn’t necessarily the best place to view (or photograph) a sunset. Fortunately, not far away is the Ogimi Village Observation Deck, which offers a glorious view of Shioya Bay and Miyagi Island (this is the other Miyagi Island, not the one in Uruma) and the East China Sea.

Attractions Near Hakinzo Viewing Point

If you just want to take in the view for a long time without paying anything, this is a great place to do it. If you want to sit down to a first-class gourmet meal, you can make a reservation at the Ogimi Sky Terrace restaurant. I’ve never eaten there, but I’ve heard good things about this restaurant. On the downside, it’s pricey and the servings are not huge. If you go, try to get a seat outdoors and enjoy the view!

If you’re going to make the trip to Igimi Hakinzo, you might as well as well also stop by Ishiyama Observatory for another amazing view. If you want to see the sunset on the west coast, you might even want to start at Ishiyama and work your way to the west.

There are a bunch of other attractions not far from Ogimi. Kijoka Falls is one of them, but this is not as close as it may seem. You have to drive back to the coast to get there and it takes about 20 minutes. This will take you by Yuinohama Park, which is a nice little place if you’ve got kids with you, and even if you don’t, there’s a pleasant, easy walk along the oceanfront.

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