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Today, Okinawa is a hip destination with a tropical climate and a fusion of Japanese and Chinese influences, from the Ryukyu Civilization, which creates its unique flare. It is a location extraordinaire compared to Japan's four main archipelago islands. Naha, the capital of Okinawa, is served by frequent flights from the mainland as well as the gateway to sightsee other Okinawa islands.

Kokusai-dori
(Kokusai/International Street)
is the main shopping street, lined on both sides with department stores and shops selling jewels, watches, handicrafts and other souvenirs.
Do not miss the 37th Naha Festival "The Great Tug of War" August 10th, the colossal rope is ranked #1 in the Guinness World Record Book.

Cultural
Originally from the 15th century, Shurijo (Shuri Castle and Ruins) the Ryukyu Imperial residence was reconstructed after WWII. Four gates secure the outer walls, whereas the inner fortifications encompass nine tall gates. A World Heritage Site of UNESCO, this castle, was printed on the 2000 yen note minted in the year 2000. 800 yen (April - June 9:00 - 19:30, Last entry at 19:00, July - Sept. 9:00 - 20:30, Last entry at 20:00)

Gyokusendo Okoku Mura (Gyokusendo Kingdom Village)
exhibits local crafts and culture, such as Bingata (dying textiles), awamori brewing and Eisa dance performances. Be in awe by the amazing Gyokusendo limestone cave 2920 feet (890 meters), one of the longest in Asia with more than 900,000 stalactites, stalagmites and pillars.

Gyokusendo Habu Koen (Gyokusendo Habu Park) display habu vipers, an unusual Okinawa species with a lethal bite. If that does not freak you out, shroud yourself with a python. 1,600 yen "Free pass" 1,200 yen Gyokusendo Cave & Kingdom Village; 1,100 yen Kingdom Village & Habu Center; April - Oct. 9:00 - 18:30)

The Heiwa Kinen Shiryokan (Peace Memorial Museum) shows the grisly history of the Battle of Okinawa, where Japanese soldiers killed local Okinawa people. More than 100,000 civilians died in 1945. 300yen; June 9:00 - 19:00, Last entry at 16:30; Closed Dec. 29 - Jan. 3)


The HeiwaA cultural theme park, Ryukyu Mura (Ryukyu Village), depicts Okinawa rural life style of farmhouses and remnants of Ryukyu civilization. This township is definitely for the whole family. Time will fly by with lots of hands-on learning and activities.(840 yen, All year 8:30 - 17:30)

Nakagusuku Castle Ruins, constructed in 1448 of limestone, the castle remained only 10 years before being decimated. It was designated as a national historic site on May 15, 1972.(Free)



One of the few sites that endured WWII, Nakijin Joseki (Castle Ruins), a World Heritage Site with an astounding view of Hentona, a city, and Iheya Island. The ruins erected on limestone cliffs bear nine protected stone walls. (150 yen; All year 8:00-17:00)mainland of Okinawa, Hedo Misaki (Hedo Point), looks out into the East China Sea and Pacific Ocean. This panorama view is well known for its splendor and jagged landscape. Many Okinawa folk try to share this beauty with their foreign visitors by taking them here.

Outdoors

Explore the untainted Yaeyama Archipelago:Ishigaki and Iriomote Island and Miyako-shoto: Miyako Island. If the season is winter, hop on a boat or ferry to whale watch. If you want to embark on these unscathed islands, take a plane to Ishigaki Airport from Naha or ferries from Miyakojima, Naha and Taiwan. Then travel by boat to various islands. Ishigaki Island is renowned for its undeveloped and rocky coastline, white sandy beaches and turquoise pristine waters.


Iriomote Island inhabits the rare yamaneko (Iriomote Wild Cat) plus exotic species of flora and insects. About 90 percent of the island is covered by a primeval jungle, mainly mangrove, palm and banyan trees. Uraunchi gawa (river), winds deeply into the island's heart where you can take boat trips, treks and kayak.

A lush plane of sugar cane fields, Miyako Island is distinguished by its nature and the ultimate All-Japan Triathlon details,
e-mail 85@miyako-ma.jp.

Dive Deep! Scuba Dive in Okinawa

Who would have thought diving in Japan would be as fabulous as any other tropical paradise in the world. Scuba dive and discover the wonders Okinawa offers - colorful corals, rays, vibrant tropical fish and octopi. Enjoy yourself with Manta rays at Manta way, situated on Kohama Island simply in winter and spring. Witness deep sea ruins, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks at Yonaguni Island, the most Western point in Japan.

 

Beaches

Main Okinawa Island
Moon Beach, located in Central Okinawa, is a hidden secret with deep blue waters, white sand and coconut palm trees. Located North of Moon Beach you uncover Manza Beach.

Ishigaki Island
Situated 3 miles (5km) of Kabira, Yonehara Beach, covered with dead coral lead you into the sea. Snorkel away, however be wary of jelly fish season.

Iriomote Island
South of the town Ohara, Haemita-no-hama (Haemita Beach), has one of the most stunning strips of sand. Full of tiny broken shells shaped like stars, Hoshisuna no hama (Hoshisuna Beach) is a pleasant snorkel. On the West coast find Funauki Beach, a deserted strand.


Eats

Ryukyu Cuisine mixes Japanese and Chinese style cooking with tropical nutrients, meat (especially pork) and seafood. Unlike typical Japanese soba with buckwheat noodles, Okinawa soba is made from wheat with a soup full of pork nuggets. Okinawa's delicacy is probably Chanpuru, an assortment of nabera (gourd), goya (Okinawa bitter melon), fu (wheat gluten) and somen (wheat noodles). Other striking local eats to seek are yagijiru (goat stew), irabu-jiru (sea snake stew), irabucha (parrot fish), ika (squid) and its black ink. Oh and not to forget jimame tofu, tofu made from peanuts for those vegetarians and health nuts!

Drinks

Okinawa's specialty of "stark" rice liquor, Awamori contains up to 60% alcohol. Locally brewed and possible to buy outside of Okinawa, Orion Beer is refreshing after a long day of physical activity. (If you are around Sept. 1-2, 2007, party at the Orion Beer Festival.) For non-alcoholic drinks try, Sanpin cha, locally brewed jasmine tea or an assortment of mouth watering fresh fruit juices-pineapple, mango and more.


Yes! Book yourself on a cruise ship and travel in and around Japan. Cruises stop in Okinawa such as the Sapphire Princess which departs September 15-October 16, 2007. Cruise It! Relax, enjoy and explore the intricate beauty of Japan.


Tie the knot, renew your vows or honeymoon in Japan. Celebrate in a Japanese traditional or Western style wedding. How about in Okinawa, at Aqualuce Chapel at Manza Beach, Aquagrace Chapel or Crudesur Chapel on splendid Ishigaki Island? Make it an unforgettable exotic ceremony!

Map of Okinawa Archipelago


Okinawa Prefecture, Official Government Site


Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau

For more information about Okinawa and other destinations,
visit the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) - North America website: http://www.japantravelinfo.com.

*Thank you Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau for the images contained in this e-newsletter.

Information is provided as a courtesy to users of this website. Though the JNTO endeavors to ensure the information is accurate, users of the information are to act on such using their own judgment and at their own risk. Neither the JNTO nor any holder of copyright to the information shall be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any loss or misunderstanding, either direct or indirect, that is incurred as a result of utilizing the information.

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email: visitjapan@jntonyc.org
URL: www.japantravelinfo.com
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