Set apart from the rest of Japan both geographically and culturally, Okinawa Prefecture consists of 160 islands where nature abounds and laid-back, tropical ambiance prevails. Discover pristine beaches and excellent diving, as well as historic artifacts from World War II battles, unique museums and a deep-rooted culture.
Until its 1868 annexation to Japan, the Okinawa archipelago was independent, known as Ryukyu Kingdom. Here, food, crafts, architecture and languages evolved separately and have left a long-standing legacy. Learn about this fascinating culture at Ryukyu Mura, a theme park where you can see traditional performances, working craftsmen and unique architectural styles.
Okinawa Island, the largest of the prefecture’s 40 inhabited islands, has the capital city of Naha, the gateway to the rest of the coral-fringed islands. The city’s highlight is the 14th-century Shurijo Castle. Learn more about ancient Ryukyu culture at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum. Visit pottery shops in the Tsuboya area. Shop, eat and interact with locals along International Street. Tour the Peace Memorial Museum on the southern part of the island for artifacts and testimonials related to Okinawa’s World War II battles.
Appreciate nature on Okinawa’s other islands. Embark on a whale-watching cruise off Zamami Island. In summer, lounge on perfect white-sand beaches including Katenohama Beach on Kumejima Island.
Emerald Beach is part of the Okinawa Ocean Expo Park. Witness the earliest blossoming of Japan’s famous pink cherry blossoms or attend one of the many colorful flower festivals held throughout the islands. You can even explore a primitive forest pocketed with limestone caves in the Valley of Gangala.
Dive in the healthy coral reefs on islands such as the far south Iriomote. If you don’t dive or snorkel, view marine creatures at Churaumi Aquarium and at the underwater observatory tower in Busena Marine Park.
Okinawa is served by Naha’s international airport. Domestic flights and ferries shuttle visitors to other islands. Set off on an island-hopping adventure in this alluring tropical setting.