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Japan 


Okinawa

Sitting in a sub-tropical belt with a wonderful climate (including a short rainy season in May and June), it is easy to understand why Okinawa is the domestic resort of choice for many Japanese.

The locals are renowned as peaceful and friendly. Naha is the main city. Okinawans are proud of their heritage and see themselves as culturally distinct from the rest of Japan. Fine white-sand beaches with azure seas abound (below)

Naha itself is a somewhat unusual jumble of styles. The cluttered city is not an attraction in itself but retains so much of the Okinawan culture that it is important to pay a visit to this otherwise rather unpreposessing place. Tsuboya pottery district as well as Gokoku-ju and Naminou-gu temples are fascinating examples of their kind and well worth a visit. Nightife is abundant and there are plenty of bars and restaurants offering traditional Ryukyan fare.

Shuri (left) retains a 500 yr old historic castle while the Okinawa Prefectural Museum should be a must for those interested in Okinawa's rich history and culture.

To the south remain many reminders of the WW2 battle for the island. An area rich in caves and tunnels, the most famous are at Romogusuku, forever linked to the battle following the suicide of some 4,000 Japanese soldiers here.

Gyokusendo Kingdom Village is built over an impressive network of caves - with the largest in the region, Gyokusen-do (right). Visitors sometimes find this rather overdeveloped and catering for the mass tourism market. There is little here for those searching for traditional ways of life and unspoilt island life.

Villages such as Oku and Aha in the north as well as the islands of Minnajima and Izenajima provide an example of the traditional Okinawan way of life, while the northeast coast remains completely undeveloped (with no public transport links whatsoever).

 

 
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