Skip to content

Secret In The Map #6: Nago’s Dolphin Tail

Just off the north end of the Okinawa Cross-State Highway, you will see a sea of blue on your left. The view here is so beautiful, especially on sunny days. It’s nature’s way of saying WELCOME TO NORTHERN OKINAWA.

Nago Bay Okinawa

Welcome to Nago Bay, the gateway to northern Okinawa. It’s home to the largest aquarium in Asia and the home to some of the most untouched nature and exotic animals in Japan. The coastal road along Nago Bay is one of the most used roads in Okinawa. In fact, millions pass through every year!

Along the way, there are many stops to take pictures of the blue and green mix. Take a moment to enjoy and be with nature. Within all of its beauty, there is a bloody history to this area that most people don’t even know.

Nago Okinawa Dolphin Hunting

Dolphin and whale hunting near Nago ( photo source:

Before the coastal road was built, this area used to be beach stretch a few kilometers northward. In spring every year, many dolphins and whales pass this area. Before industrialization, without rich natural resources, Okinawans, like people that live in other island nations, took what nature offered. They hunted the dolphins and whales for meat.

Dolphin and whale hunts continued in this area until the 1960s. Before that, dolphin and whale hunts were the income source for many local families.

Industrial Japan and the modernization of Okinawa changed the landscape of this region. Dolphins no longer come to Nago Bay and the story of dolphin hunting is slowing being washed away over time. People born after the war in Okinawa may not realize the history of Nago Bay.

Today, as many pull over their car to appreciate the magical blue water and try to connect with nature, hidden behind it, is a story of island life slowing fading away. You can still find a trace of the area’s history and see what the locals faced back in the hunting season by finding a small dolphin statue behind the plants along the coastal highway.

Nago Dolphin statue Okinawa

The dolphin statue is near Kyuta Service Station in Nago. Exact location here.

This part of bloody history is not featured in today’s tourism-driven economy. Officials may not want to remind tourists the struggle for survival Okinawans had to face while they are looking at the beautiful Nago Bay. Now when I see an elderly Okinawan looking out to the water in Nago, I can see the flashbacks through their eyes. The color they see in the water is different from those who come to visit Nago, and what they see is the true color of Okinawa.

It’s stories like this I want to preserve through the Okinawa Map project. As Okinawa grows, the trace of such stories may only be found in history books and the Okinawa Map you have on your wall. Aren’t you glad that you get to be a part of carrying on this secret?

Check out another article about another secret hidden in this area on the map. Besides the beautiful view, there is much more to be discovered about this area.

There are 30 more hidden secrets like this on the Okinawa map. Join 5,300+ Okinawa Map Owners to Discover Okinawa Together

Where to Buy The Map

The Okinawa maps are sold in a number of locations in Okinawa, please find a store near you to buy the map. If you live outside of Okinawa or if you want to send a map to your friends and family, we can ship the map to anywhere outside of Okinawa.

Visit a Store or Order Online

**The information in this article is written by the designer of the Okinawa Story Map based personal experience. It does not aim to be 100% accurate or academically correct. Please enjoy the stories and feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this article.