Okinawa, Japan: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

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The main island of Okinawa in Japan used to be the Ryukyu Kingdom which is considered the biggest and has the most population within the Okinawa Prefecture along with being the region’s transportation hub. Naha and the US military bases can be found on Okinawa Honto.

The central part of the place is already highly modernized but its southern top has a minimal amount of people living in it. Its northern tip called the Yambaru section is widely forested and packed with hills along with villages meant for farming and fishing.

The meaning of its very name relates to its topographical and geographical aspect, rope in the open sea. Compared to the islands of Ogasawara, Amami and Tokara, Okinawa receives the most number of flights from major cities of the country.

The local Okinawans considered themselves as having different dialect and customs used compared to the mainland Japanese people. They call their race as uchinanchu which means sea people in their own local dialect.

When it comes to the question of what’s unique with Okinawa, this would surely include karate, its music, and even the unique musical instrument called sanshin. It is often compared similar to the banjo but it has three strings and its pentatonic melodies can be easily identified.

Okinawa has four main cities called Naha, Chatan, Okinawa City, and Nago. The islands are categorized as follows: Okinawa Islands, Daito Islands, and Sakishima Islands.

Things To Do and Places To See

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Many visit Okinawa for the best of its beaches. Their cultural attraction options are not to vast but when it comes to historical sites, there is an abundance of it. Some of these sites which exude of the place’s culture and history include the newly remade Shuri Castle, the preserved Taketomi village, and Naha’s Peace Memorial Park.

Other must see attractions in Okinawa that are world renowned include the Churaumi Aquarium on the peninsula of Motobu and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Onna.

When it comes to the top things to do in Okinawa, it most often revolves around the activities of watersports such as diving, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, and fishing.

Their cuisine has influences of the Taiwanese making it different from the ones served in mainland Japan. Most of the ingredients they use are vegetables such as bitter melon and purple yam and tropical fruits such as calamansi, dragonfruit, pineapple, papaya and mango.

Due to the influence of the American bases in Okinawa, there are products and joints that show the American influence. There are A&W outlets for root beer and fast food meals like the hamburgers, Blue Seal ice cream, and lots of Spam.

Where To Stay

The accommodations around Okinawa are usually categorized into two major brackets with one belonging to the affordable lodges with basic amenities and the other are the expensive high end resorts.

The place has tons of lodges called minshuku-type perfect for the backpacking type of tourists. There are also dorm type accommodations while there are some who even go for the campsites. Such sites are most often the ones on the beach which require guests to have their own sleeping bags or tents.

The middle class accommodations are the bed and breakfast types along with a few city hotels. But the ones who can spend a great deal of money must not hesitate to choose from Okinawa’s best resorts that already offer their own watersport packages. The rates can go as costly as 20,000 yen each night or per head.

Nightlife Spots

Nightlife in Okinawa becomes alive in Naha where tons of GIs can be expected to be seen. Both in the cities of Okinawa and Naha, a wide range of performance live houses can be visited that feature wide range of music from the traditional Okinawan to the western styled types.

Their most popular brew for a drink is the awamori. It is a very strong liquor that carry a percentage of about 60 percent. It uses Thai jasmine rice since the ancient days of the Ryukyu Kingdom due to the lack of short grain rice from the mainland. Their local beer is called Orion for those looking for a tamer drink.

Getting Around

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Any tourist can visit all the islands through connections done either by air or ferry. The major modes of transportation used in the place include planes, ferry, cars for rent, and the public bus.

Tips To Remember

Note that Okinawa has their own language group called as Ryukyuan, similar to the one spoken with Kagoshima’s Amami Islands. They are still related to the Japanese language but cannot be understood by the Japanese speaking people. Also, each of the islands of Okinawa has their own dialect.

All of the Okinawans though can speak the average Japanese and there are also some who can already understand English.

The region has a very safe credibility that on the other islands, it is common to find front doors left unlocked. But it is an important reminded to any civilian not to wander in the US military bases for such an act is punishable by law.

With beaches everywhere, every visiting tourist is to be cautious of catching a sunburn and even be extra careful of poisonous animals like the Habu snake and the Jellyfish.