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Guide to Okinawa


Okinawa Ocean Expo Park

Okinawa Ocean Expo Park

Photo (c) Shizuko Mishima
Okinawa is the southmost prefecture of Japan. Okinawa consists of about 160 islands, which are scattered in a wide area (over 350 miles long). Main regions are Okinawa Honto (Okinawa Main Island), Kerama Shoto (the Kerama Islands), Kumejima (Kume Island), Miyako Shoto (the Miyako Islands), and Yaeyama Shoto (the Yaeyama Islands).

The capital city of Okinawa prefecture, Naha, is located in southern Okinawa Honto. Kume Island is located about 60 miles west of Okinawa Honto and is known as a resort island with beautiful beaches. Miyako Island is located about 180 miles southwest of Okinawa Honto. Ishigaki Island is the third largest island in Okinawa and is located about 250 miles southwest of Okinawa Honto. Taketomijima is a small island near Ishigaki Island. Iriomote Island is the second largest island in Okinawa and is located west of Ishigaki Island.

The population is nearly 1.4 million in the whole prefecture as of May 2011. According to the 30 year normals (1981-2010) by Japan Meteorological Agency, the average yearly temperatures for Naha-city is 23.1 degrees C. The typical rainy season lasts from early May to mid/late June. Please check the one-week forecasts of Okinawa Main Island by Japan Meteorological Agency.

Unlike other parts of Japan, Okinawa has its own history. The Ryukyu Kingdom flourished for over 400 years from the 15th century. Japan integrated the Ryukyu in its society and changed the name of the islands to Okinawa prefecture in 1879. During World War II, the Battle of Okinawa took place involving civilians. From 1945, Okinawa had been under the control of the US Military until 1972. Many US Military bases are currently located in Okinawa. Okinawa conserves its unique traditions from the Ryukyu Kingdom, including the language, arts, and music.

Access to Naha: It takes about two and half hours from Tokyo Haneda Airport or takes about two hours from Kansai Airport/Osaka International Airport (Itami) to fly to Naha Airport. Flights to Naha are available from various cities in Japan. Yui Rail, which is a monorail service in Naha, runs between Naha Airport and Shuri.

For more information, please refer to the website of Okinawa Prefecture Government.

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