Discover beautiful Okinawa, Japan
Discover Okinawa, a Japanese prefecture containing 160 stunning islands in the East China Sea. Okinawa offers visitors a rich history lesson, beautiful food and enjoyable outdoor activities.
Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture, consists of 160 large and small picturesque islands located across a vast ocean area. They range from 400km south to north and 1000km east to west. Okinawa’s rich and distinctive culture, its abundance of natural beauty and exotic and tasty food make it a popular holiday destination.
Okinawa is known for its high number of centenarians, those who live beyond 100 years. The long lifespan of Okinawan people has been attributed to a diet consisting of fresh fish, seaweed and vegetables.
Superfoods such as goya, a very bitter type of gourd vegetable that is rich in vitamin C; shekwasha, a citrus fruit that is rich in citric acid; and mozuku, a type of seaweed that slows down the rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol, all contribute to the long and healthy lifespans of Okinawan people.
The locals also subscribe to the Okinawan belief of maintaining good exercise and work well beyond retirement age.
The island’s mild climate and the beautiful oceans’ surrounding Okinawa is also said to attribute to the local’s long and rich lifespan. A visit to Okinawa’s islands might inspire you to adopt some of their practices into your own health and wellbeing.
Okinawan people are known for having big hearts and generous personalities. This is expressed through the Okinawan word “tege”, which means “in moderation”. Okinawan people use tege frequently when showing thoughtfulness towards others or spiritual open-mindedness.
In Japan, there is an accurate and strict adherence to time, but Okinawan people have a more relaxed sense of time, which is known as “uchina-taimu” or “Okinawan time”.
Once an independent kingdom, Okinawa maintained a flourishing trade with various East and South East Asian countries. After World War II, Okinawa fell under the administration of the United States. It was these experiences that gave Okinawa a unique and different history when compared to other regions of Japan. Okinawa was able to develop its own diverse culture, influenced by Japan, China and other Asian and Western countries.
Things to do
Okinawa comprises of a collection of islands that mark southern Japan, so island hopping is a great way to experience each island’s unique personality. From Okinawa’s main island you can get to other islands by ferry or by flying. You can enjoy different outdoor activities on each island, which is a wonderful way to meet new people and try new things. With so much to explore, we’ve picked our favourite destinations among many other islands in Okinawa.
Miyako Island offers many fantastic views of the surrounding coastline due to its flat terrain. At Higashi-hennazaki Cape you can see the ocean and its beautiful colour gradation; it was also selected as having one of “the 100 most beautiful lighthouses in Japan”. Stunning natural white sandy beaches surround the island, including Yonaha Maehama beach, which has about 7km of pure white sand, as well as Sunayama beach.
Iriomote Island is covered mostly by a dense semi-tropical jungle. Because of its rich natural environment, the entire island has been designated as a protected national park. Sometimes called the Galapagos of the Orient, the island is home to precious wild animals such as the Iriomote wildcat. Mangroves take root at the mouth of the river, where the freshwater and seawater mix. Because of the island’s wildlife, plants and large and small waterfalls, canoeing and trekking are a great way to discover its natural beauty and charm.
Conveniently located only 10 minutes from Ishigaki Island by ferry, Taketomi Island is a popular travel destination. The townscape of Taketomi Island is designated as an important preservation district of the historic building. Enjoy the original landscape of pure and white sandy roads, red-tile roofs and a row of stone walls and bougainvillea plants. Take a leisurely tour of the island by sitting in a water buffalo carriage.
Visitors to Zamami Island are growing, not only from within Japan but also internationally. Zamami is a part of the Kerama region which is designated as a national park and boasts some of the clearest waters in the world, referred to as Kerama Blue. If you’re interested in a scuba diving or snorkelling holiday, visit Kerama Blue, a diving hotspot that is internationally renowned. You might even see the majestic humpback whales that visit every year from January to March during mating season.