Santinmo Park & Observation Tower
Santinmo Park & Observation Tower (Itoman)


Okinawa.Org Staff
Dec 26, 2018
Santinmo Park (marked on Google Maps as Santenmo Park, but pinned below) is a great kid-friendly and dog-friendly place to visit with some sceneic views of Itoman, Okinawa, the East China Sea and 360 degrees all around. This is because it has an observation tower smack dab in the park that lets you circle the island up high to see more.

A spiral staircase to the top of the observation tower in Santinmo Park

If you only go for the view, after spiraling to the top, you can catch a nice sunset or even look around Itoman. It won't be hard to find and wait for as the perimeter is marked with directions at the top, also making it easier to understand where you're looking if you're not going for the sunset.

A panorama of the sunset from the Santinmo Observation Tower in Itoman

One thing is that the sun typically will set right behind the massive hotel as the observation tower is directly due east of it. Nonetheless, you still get a good glimpse of the sky and the colors that the sunset brings.

If you're into WWII history, you can see that Santinmo Hill was also the location of a lookout point for the Japanese Imperial Forces to identify incoming aircraft, friend or foe.

Itoman Air Defense Observation Post history Itoman Air Defense Observation Post and a pavilion

Itoman Air Defense Observation Post said:
The octagonal concrete base on Santinmo Hill was once a WWII air defense spotter post for the Japanese Imperial Forces. From this point, spotters identified approaching aircraft as friend or foe. The information was then quickly and accurately reported to Command as a basis for air raid alerts or other needs.

Without the then still new radar systems used by the US Forces, the Imperial Forces mostly depended on human spotters and their hearing to identify enemy aircraft. In Okinawa, the HQ of the Air Defense Monitor Unit was within the Prefectural government with the Governor as its chief. However, actual operations were handled by the Police.

Of Okinawa's 11 outposts, a staff of 21 served at Itoman including the director and the vice directors. 18 lookouts divided into three teams worked three shifts around the clock.

On the eve of 1944's devastating October 10 bombing raid, the team spotted and reported a large formation of U.S. carrier-borne aircraft approaching from the south-east. However, no air alert was sounded.

Prior to the war, the Okinawan people used the hill as a landmark at sea of where to return with their fishing loot.

The history of Santin-mo Hill for fishermen out of the ports of Itoman

This park also provides an awesome kid-friendly jungle gym, and a not so friendly "skull crusher" slide—what I call these as I can just imagine sliding so fast and jerking back in the process.

Playground at Santinmo Park The skullcrusher slide at Santinmo Park

Across from the kid's playground, there's also a nice clearing so that you can bring your dog along and have a great time with them too!

A nice clearing at Santinmo Park to play fetch with your dogs!

This park is great for just about everyone to have some outdoor fun in Okinawa. There's even some Ryukyu history there too.

Santinmo Hill: Said to be the location of a traditional tomb of Tarumai, the last king of Nanzan

Santinmo said:
This 15 m-high rocky outcrop stands close to Itoman rotary (roundabout). On the top of the southern wall is a traditional tomb said to be that of Tarumai, the last king of Nanzan. At the start of the Itoman Dragon Boat Race held every year on May 4 of the lunar calendar, a hare gong is rung a week before, from here at Santinmo, which overlooks the port.

It's also interesting that Itoman has kept its history by retaining the roundabout, making the area a more modern feel of what it was like after World War II.

A post-war view of the roundabout in Itoman A modern roundabout, still at its present location beneath Santinmo Park, in Itoman
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of Okinawa.Org.
Santenmo Park, 538 Itoman, Okinawa, Japan

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