Okinawa

Okinawa Prefecture

Iriomote

Iriomote
Iriomote is part of the subtropical Yaemyama island chain. It is actually the second biggest island in the whole of Okinawa but has a population of only 2000. The island only has access from the sea and the main reason for its small population is the fact that the majority of the island is covered in dense protected jungle and mangrove. It is very popular to visit the island during winter season to escape from harsh winter of Japan's main islands.

Ishigaki Island

Ishigaki Island
Ishigaki-jima Island is the main island in the Yae-yama archipelago, which is about 420 kilometers southwest of Naha on Okinawa Main Island. Ishigaki-jima Island is 90 kilometers around, and covered with mountains, including Mt. Omoto-dake, rising 526 meters above sea level, the highest in Okinawa. The coral reef sea there is famous throughout the world and there are many scenic marine spots on the island, such as Shiraho, noted for a variety of colored coral that can be seen covering the bottom below the transparent waters, and Kabira Bay where the ocean's blueness is said to be the brightest in Okinawa. In the suburbs of the city of Ishigaki spread the sugarcane fields, beyond which are the lush green mountain areas where Mt. Omoto-dake is found. The jungles of tropical plants, such as mangroves, are quite valuable, as well as the stands of Yae-yama palm trees that are truly unique, growing wild only on the Yae-yama Islands. There are a number of sightseeing spots where you can relax and enjoy beautiful scenery, like the Tamatorizaki Observatory, and the scenic Hirakubo and Ugan capes, accessible by a rental car or bike.

Naha

Naha
Naha is the largest city in Okinawa Prefecture. Located in the southern part of Okinawa Main Island, it is the political, economic and transportation center of the prefecture. Kokusai-dori Avenue is surely the most crowded place in Naha. This approximately 1.6-kilometer-long street is lined with department stores, restaurants, coffee shops, general shops, clothing shops, travel agencies, banks, and of course souvenir shops which account for about 40% of the businesses and facilities on the high traffic street. The market, known as the "kitchen of Naha," is always full of energy and excitement with old women called "Obaa" working actively amongst the brisk talking venders. Naha once prospered as the outer port of Shuri, which flourished as the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom. In those days, Naha had much trade with China and Southeast Asia. Among the major remains of the Ryukyu Kingdom is Shuri Castle, the ruins of the Castle of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The New Center is a new area for business and shopping in Naha. Many local families go there to enjoy shopping at the large DFS Galleria Okinawa, where tax-free overseas brand items are sold, as well as to visit the nearby movie theaters and restaurants. Other attractions include the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum where the nature, culture and art of Okinawa can truly be appreciated.

Taketomi Island

Taketomi Island
Taketomi Island is an island just off the coasts of Ishigaki Island to the east. As Taketomi Island is fairly small, it is often visited as a day trip from Ishigaki. This tiny subtropical island has an example of a perfectly and beautifully preserved traditional Ryukyu village which would have been found all over Okinawa. The traditional Ryukyu one-story houses are characterized by red tiled roofs, stone walls and the lion-like Shiza at the gates whose duty is to ward off evil spirits. Other traditional homes inside the village are used as restaurants and shops selling local food and crafts. There are no rental cars on Taketomi, and most visitors either walk or rent a bicycle to travel through the village's white sand roads and to the nearby beaches along the western shore of the island.

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