About the Yonabaru line (Yonabaru station) of the light railways
In Okinawa, before World War II, the “Keibin (light railways)” ran and were operated by the Okinawa prefectural railways.
Though smaller than the more common steam engines of the time, they were still great and extremely useful to Okinawa.
There were 3 rail lines, the Yonabaru line (between Naha station and Yonabaru station), Kadena line (between Naha station and Kadena station), and Itoman line (between Naha and Itoman).
Introducing the light railways made it possible to transport large groups of people and supplies. This greatly contributed to the development of the town.
However, during the war, the railways were destroyed by the U.S. military.
The last scheduled train on the Kadena line was around March 23rd in 1945 and the last scheduled train on the Yonabaru and Itoman lines were around March 28th in 1945.The light railways ran for 31 years from 1914 to 1945.
It’s difficult to imagine that trains ran in Okinawa because today’s Okinawa is such an automobile based society, but the vestige of the light railways, destroyed by the war, is carefuly looked after.
Yonabaru station wasn’t completely destroyed by the war because it was built with concrete, unlike the other stations which were built with wood.
After the war, the Yonabaru station was repaired many times during Yonabaru Town’s re-construction.
In 2013, the buisiness, which had been using the Yonabaru station building, moved to a different location. Yonabaru Town didn’t pass up this opportunity. They decided to reconstruct the building interior and re-create the Yonabaru Station since it was almost the 100 year anniversary of the light railways opening. To really bring authenticity to Yonabaru Station, a research survey was distributed to the senior people in the area who remembered Yonabaru Station as it originally looked, aquired any available photos, and inquired among historians.
Now, people can see “Keibin Yonabaru Eki Sha (The Yonabaru Station of The Light Railways)”, reconstructed in 2014.
It’s also a transportation museum. The admission fee is \100 for junior high school student age and up. Business hours are from 10 am to 6 pm and closed on Tuesdays. Various events are also held there. Please call the Yonabaru Tourism and Commerce Department (phone #: 098-945-5323) for information on upcoming events. “The Yonabaru Station of The Light Railways” is a valuable treasure that represents what life was like before the war in Okinawa.
Please come and get to know the charm of “The Light Railways”, that has attracted so many rail fans, when you come to Yonabaru Town.