Unlike Tokyo and Osaka, Okinawa is not known for its developed economy, nor is it like Hokkaido and Kyoto which are popular among the younger generations for its unique charm. Nevertheless, the small island of Okinawa still received almost ten million tourists in 2015 alone.
Also known as “Ryukyu,” Okinawa has distinctive dialect, architecture, and food due to its close relations with China and Southeast Asian countries since the ancient times. Visiting tourists must try dishes representative of Okinawa, such as Goya chanpuru, Rafute (Shoyu pork) and Umibudo. After World War II, Okinawa had been governed by the U.S. until the 1970s, and it is for this reason that American culture has been deeply rooted here. Thanks to multicultural influences, today’s Okinawa exhibits a natural and distinguishing appeal that differentiates it from mainland Japan.
Touring in Okinawa entails sightseeing and shopping at numerous must-visit spots, particularly in the capital of Naha. These destinations include Shuri Castle, Naminoue Shrine, and the bustling Kokusai Street called “Miracle Mile.”
When traveling to the other areas of the main Okinawa Island, the express bus from Naha is a convenient option for transportation. Destinations worth visiting include the popular Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Okinawa World, Cape Manzamo, and the Mihama American Village. If you’re looking to shop, DFS Galleria and Ashibina Outlets near the airport can provide you with an extensive assortment of merchandise.
For divers, Okinawa is also an ocean paradise worth visiting again and again. Since the Kuroshio current—the world’s largest warm current—goes through it, Okinawa boasts of a larger number of marine species compared to other sea areas. The most popular dive site in Okinawa is Blue Cave, which has waters 18 meters deep. Surrounding offshore islands are also perfect places for diving, namely Kerama Islands, Miyako Islands, and Ishigaki Island.