Okinawa prefecture is the southernmost prefecture of Japan and consists of a chain of islands stretching south towards Taiwan. Despite being a part of Japan, Okinawa has its own unique culture, including dances, clothing, music styles and instruments.
Okinawa has a semi tropical climate and is surrounded almost completely by a coral reef. Together these lead to world class diving year round. Try Maeda Misaki for some of the best diving and snorkeling on the island. As if the white coral sand beaches, palm trees and turquoise ocean weren't enough, Okinawa also has lush mountain jungle and lively cities. Chatan and Naha City are both well known for their nightlife. Try Hiji Falls or The Valley of Gangala to experience Okinawa's natural environment.
Okinawans are very proud of their culture and history and work hard to preserve them. Traditional dance, music and other arts are passed down to the younger generation. It is also the home of Karate and this too is taught in numerous dojos or schools around the island. Martial artists should be sure to visit Shureido for equipment and the newly opened, Dojo Bar to meet fellow martial artists. Okinawans are a friendly people and foreigners are welcome to learn these traditional arts and to take part in the many festivals held around the island. It is a wonderfully safe environment for visitors and there are numerous restaurants and bars where you can meet the locals.
During World War II Okinawa was the site of a large battle between Japanese and US forces with the gentle Okinawan people caught in the middle. There are many memorials, peace parks and museums remembering this battle. Another result of WWII was the fact that 20% of the main island is used by US military bases. There are occasional anti US demonstrations but they are generally peaceful and most Okinawans are fairly accepting of the US presence. To learn more about World War II and Okinawa's role visit the Himeyuri Peace Museum or The Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters.
Visitors should take a look at the Walking Tours and Roadtrips around the island to tailormake an itinerary to suit their individual needs.
There is plenty to see and do here whether you are into history, culture, water sports or other outdoor activities and Okinawa is well worth a visit.