• okinawa_ishigaki_9_OCVB
  • okinawa_ishigaki_19_OCVB

    Ishigaki Island, Okinawa

  • okinawa_ishigaki_14_OCVB
  • okinawa_main_island_5_OCVB

    Okinawa main island (© OCVB)

  • okinawa_main_island_3_OCVB

    Okinawan style architecture (© OCVB)

  • okinawa_taketomii_2_OCVB
  • okinawa_main_island_2_OCVB

    Okinawa main island (© OCVB)

About Okinawa

CLIMATE AND GEOGRAPHY

The name Okinawa means “rope in the open sea”, a fairly description of this long stretch of islands between mainland Japan and Taiwan. Consisting of 49 inhabited islands and 111 uninhabited islands, it has a subtropical/tropical climate.

The prefecture can be divided into three major island groups, the Okinawa Islands (Okinawa Shoto) around Okinawa Island (Okinawa Honto), the Miyako Islands (Miyako Retto) around Miyako Island and the Yaeyama Islands (Yaeyama Retto) around Ishigaki Island.

The area’s subtropical climate, with white sand beaches, emerald-green sea and reefs to swim and dive, make it one of the best dive sites in the world!

CULTURE AND HISTORY

As a separate kingdom for centuries, the area developed a unique collection of handicrafts, architecture and cuisine, heavily influenced by both China and Japan.

The area’s most famous export worldwide is the martial art of Karate. In recent years Okinawan culture has become quite popular throughout Japan thanks to popular musicians and local foods. The music of the islands is very attractive and unique because of the mixture of original Okinawan sounds and American rock, jazz, and other styles from the USA. The distinctive instrument of choice is the sanshin, a three-stringed instrument like a banjo. It is a distant relative of the mainland’s shamisen, whose pentatonic melodies are instantly recognizable.

In Shuri just outside the city of Naha are the magnificent restored castles of the Ryukyu kings, who ruled for 500 years. These castles are an example of the mixture of Japanese and Chinese architecture that was the characteristic of this culture.

Okinawan cuisine is distinct from that of mainland Japan and shows distinct Taiwanese influences.

Practical information:

  • From Tokyo Haneda to Naha Airport (2h45)
  • From Osaka Kansai International Airport to Naha Airport (2h)
  • From Nagoya Chubu International Airport to Naha Airport (2h15)

Okinawa on our Google map