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Japan 


Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Islands, also sometimes known as the South-West Islands are located in the south-west of the archipelago. Okinawa is the largest and most well-known of the Ryukyu islands. Not only is it the location of the biggest US base in Japan but also a major tourist destination for the Japanese - the northern half of central Okinawa is filled with resort towns while in the southern half is the famous military base.

The Outer Islands or rito are generally smaller and much less developed. Here are good beaches and some fantastic diving and also some traces of the Ryukyu culture which was lost completely on Okinawa due to the WW II bombing. Even further out are the Yaeyama Islands - Ishigaki and Iriomote - both great places for diving.

Manta ray in the seas around the rito

Be sure to visit these islands while you can - 'progress' has left much of Okinawa overdeveloped and the rito are gradually following suit. The traditional Ryukyu culture is under threat from resort hotels catering to mass tourism.

 

 
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