The Valley of Gangala is perhaps one of the most overlooked must-visit sites in Okinawa. Like a book that awaits revelation, the valley has secrets and mysteries to tell. This surprisingly wonderful and unlike-this-world experience begins through a large cave where you can relax at a cafe and wait for the tour briefing to commence. The tour is only conducted in Japanese but we were fortunate to have our own guide who can speak and understand the language very well, though explanations on the details of the tour are handed out to foreign visitors. Only guided tours are allowed in Gangala valley to ensure safety and to protect the ongoing excavations in the site. It is also very impressive to note that they provide insect repellents and jasmine tea for everyone at the start of the tour, a sweet touch of Japanese hospitality.
The hour and a half tour shows interesting natural sites like the river that flows through the valley and rock formations explaining how the valley was a cave once. Along the way, extraordinary trees were pointed out like the “Walking Banyan Tree” which is a name given because of the tree’s new roots that grew out extending itself down creating a “new leg” of the tree towards the river. It is the tree’s natural way of looking for more source of water. Another attraction was the 150-year-old banyan tree with roots that hang down all over prettily. It felt like a movie scene.
The valley also houses two famous caves in Okinawa – the Inagudo Cave or famously called the “female cave” and the Ikigado or the “male cave – and ancient Okinawans came here to pray for fertility.. There is a valid reason why they are called such and the photos will briefly explain why.
One astonishing attraction in the Valley of Gangala are excavations of pre-historic settlement believed to be 1,800 years old. Bones and tools of the Minatogawa man who are thought to be among the oldest inhabitants of Okinawa, and some of the oldest in all Asia were found in this site.
There are many stories explaining the origin of the name Gangala but our Japanese tour guide concluded that the name is the sound of a stone being thrown and then rolled down the deep areas of the site :
Gang, Gang, Gangala, Gangalala, Gangalalala.