As Japan’s southernmost prefecture and equidistant from both mainland Japan and the Chinese coast, you’ll discover that Okinawa has a decidedly different feel.

Okinawa, once ancient Ryukyu, was an independent kingdom which had tributary ties to both nations for centuries. Speak to a local Okinawan, and you’ll see that they still regard themselves as culturally distinct from the mainland Japanese with their own languages, cuisine, arts and customs. The presence of US troops stationed here since after World War 2 has added to its unique quality of fusion. Look out for the Okinawan guardian lion-dogs found on the roof or gate of almost every house, open-mouthed to catch good fortune and see if you can discern the notable Taiwanese influences in the local dishes.

With a dreamy subtropical climate and some of the best beaches in Japan, most come to Okinawa for its sunny weather and beachside relaxation. The seas surrounding the island are considered to be some of the world’s most beautiful, with coral reefs and abundant marine wildlife making it a popular diving and snorkelling destination.

What to do

  • Water sports
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Watch a traditional dance performance
  • Discover the unique Okinawa culture