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Okinawa is the biggest island, called the main island in the Ryukyu Shoto, located in the southernmost part of Japan. In the East China Sea, from the southwest of Kyushu to Yonaguni-Jima, Ryukyu Shoto stretches over 700 km of ocean and has more than a hundred subtropical islands. The islands of Ryukyu provides one of the favorite gateways of Japan known as Okinawa. The common name for Okinawa island is the Okinawa prefecture. This island is closer to Taiwan than Japan mainland, thus you will see influences of Taiwan in its culture, food, and lifestyle. The island is famous worldwide for its unique charm that attracts millions of tourists each year. The island is surrounded with wistful sights, clear seas bursting with beautiful marine creatures, unimpaired beaches, and lush green jungles. Local people are very humble and friendly. The island offers a great variety of lip-smacking food and top-notch cuisine. Even a jaded traveler will feel the charm and enchantment of the luxurious vegetation, paradise-like beaches, and gorgeous underwater life and coral reefs. Other than these calming sights, the island also showcases many world war II sites that attract history enthusiasts. Visiting these battle sites will let you explore and unfold the historical events and some of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites.
Tip: Do not fear if you are a complete beginner in Scuba Diving, the diving guide will take care of everything. So do not forget to explore life under the deep blue water and watch the beautiful aquatic creatures swim around you.
The history and culture of Okinawa are distinguished from Japan. In 1897, the reorganization of Okinawa Prefecture ended the RyÅ«kyÅ« Kingdom which leads to the formation of Okinawa as a Japanese colony for the first time. Initially, discriminatory policies were enforced on Okinawa and Japan by Japan to emphasize the differences but later, policies changed and it assimilated Okinawa with Japan. This was the beginning of the era when Okinawa society started getting influenced by Japanese society.
Later, Okinawa got subsumed into the Japanese war against China and the USA. No one would ever imagine that this beautiful land was once a battlefield. By the end of World War II, Okinawa was fully incorporated in the war system and became the battlefield. This caused severe damages which completely destroyed the social and cultural infrastructure and the loss of many lives. After the war ended, Okinawa was placed under the U.S. military. Although on May 15, 1972, it was reverted to Japan, the United States has heavily influenced the Okinawa and you will find many U.S Military bases there.
Today, Okinawa is regarded as one of the leading resort destinations in Japan by both domestic and international travelers.
Tip: If you are confused and do not know whom to contact in an emergency, then you should save the contact details of Okinawa Multilingual Contact Center before visiting there. They help with tourist information, emergency support and interpretation service.
The main airport in Okinawa is the Naha Airport and it is the largest and most frequently used airport. Naha is the capital of Okinawa. It is the seventh busiest airport in Japan. People from Korea, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand can easily get direct flights to Okinawa. From countries like India, U.S.A., Australia, Brazil, Germany and many more, a non-stop flight to Okinawa is not available, though you can get connecting flights with one or more stops in between.
Non-stop flight from Taiwan will take around 1 hour 45 minutes, from cities of China, it would take around 2 - 4 hours, from Hong-kong it would take approx 2 hours 30 minutes and from South Korea, it takes around 2 hours 15 minutes to reach Okinawa. All Nippon Airways, Air China Airlines, Japan Airlines, Peach Airlines, and many more airlines provide their service for this route. Regular airline service is provided from Tokyo to Okinawa by Peach Aviation Airlines, Jetstar Airlines, ANA Airlines, and Skymark Airlines.
Tip: Smoking is prohibited in many parts of Okinawa. Smoking on the streets is strictly prohibited and violation of this law may lead to heavy fines. Do not smoke anywhere unless you find designated smoking areas.
Naha Airport is 3.8 km away from the main city of Naha. It takes 10-15 minutes to reach the main city by car, taxi, train, bus or shuttle. The airport has access to the Okinawa Urban Monorail which carries passengers from the airport to the City center of Naha. Bus services are available from the airport to various parts of Okinawa Island.
Okinawa might look deceptively small on the map, but on land, it is relatively long and narrow. It can take several hours to get from one end to another. Although Naha has a comprehensive public transportation system, not all the regions of Okinawa has well connected public-transit system. Bus services are cheap but slow and infrequent. Car and taxi services are available in the town but renting a car will be the most convenient option to hop on different places.
Tip: Expecting recommendation for the best food to taste on the Island? Go to a local and ask him to guide you for the famous food of that place.
Okinawa boasts numerous historical sights, dozens of outer islands, beautiful sights and long relaxing beaches. Here are some of the famous things that you must explore while your visit to Okinawa.
Sweet potato Ice-cream: It might sound weird but you must try the delicious purple color sweet potato ice-cream of Okinawa.
Ryukyu Kingdom Palace: Since this palace is located between Japan and China, you will find a cultural mix at this place. Look for the special Shurijo castle as it was destroyed during World War II and then re-constructed again.
Fish Market: Visiting the giant fish market is a must! The market opens at 4 am so you might have to sacrifice your sleep but you won't regret the fantastic experience of this place.
Eat Sea Grapes: Okinawa boasts a great variety of cuisine which you won't find in the other parts of Japan. Sea Grapes are one such signature appetizer dish of Okinawa. If you are going for a dine out, you must order this one.
Mihama American Village: It is a giant entertainment complex that resembles a big American outdoor mall. Take a stroll and you will find many U.S. Military bases.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium: This aquarium is the signature attraction of Okinawa. In the large aquarium, you will see sharks, rays and turtles.
Tip: Do not spit or drop chewing gum on the road. Do not drop litter on the streets.
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