The crystal blue sea with white-sand beaches and colorful fishes dancing – through corals Shuri Castle, the castle of the King of Ryuku, registered as a World Cultural Heritage.

Okinawa, lying nearly halfway between Kyushu and Taiwan, consists of more than 100 islands and isles of different sizes and is situated at the southern extremity of the Japanese Archipelago. The climate there is mild and comfortable to live, with temperatures not falling below the springtime levels in Tokyo and Osaka even in winter.

On the islands grow gregariously tropical and semitropical plants, like banyan trees, blooming one after another all the year round. The features of Okinawa also include the inhabitation of many rare living things, such as Iriomote wildcats registered as a natural monument and living on the Iriomote-jima Island.

The crystal blue sea with white-sand beaches and colorful fishes dancing through coral attracts vacationers as a holiday resort with many diving spots.

For about 400 years from the 15th century to the middle of the 19th century, Okinawa had seen prosperity as the Kingdom of Ryuku, a prosperous state independent of Japan’s central government.

Cultural properties and conventions born through the intercourse with foreign countries in those days still survive in such interesting forms as artifacts and festivals, giving additional charm to Okinawa. Especially, Shuri Castle (the castle of the King of Ryuku), reconstructed in Naha City and registered as a World Cultural Heritage in 1992, attracts many visitors.

Okinawa boasts of many traditional public-entertaining arts of its own that have been handed down to this day, like the Ryukyu dance gracefully performed by female dancers in red-patterned costume expressing the feelings of a woman over her lover or husband, the shishi-mai (lion dance) said to have been introduced from China and performed with the mask of a lion with a colorful mane and the Eisa in which a group of dancers dance to the accompaniment of soul-stirring drums and shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese instrument).

Getting to Okinawa

Two hours and 45 minutes to Naha Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. Two hours and 10 minutes from Kansai International Airport. Two hours and 15 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Twenty minutes to Naha Bus Terminal from Naha Airport by bus.