A while ago, I had the opportunity to enjoy a 5-day stopover on Okinawa islands, during a trip in Hong Kong. Surprisingly enough, this japanese archipelago is closer to HK than it is to Tokyo. Okinawa is located southwest of Japan and consists of many islands following Ryukyu Archipelago, south Kyushu (the southern major island in Japan). It was annexed to Japan at the end of the 18th century, then became the prefecture of Okinawa-ken. There are three main assemblies, including the main island: Okinawa-Honto. That's where I stayed, in the center of its capital: Naha.
During my stay, I took the opportunity to visit some tourist spots, shops, castles and temples, beaches and islands... My only regret is not having been able to visit Okinawa 'Churaumi' Aquarium, because it was too far from Naha. The bus ride was about three hours long !
A few key points about Okinawa
There is no direct flight to Okinawa from US or Europe. You'll have to make a stopover in Tokyo, Osaka or other airports in Japan or in Asia. Between us, even if the place is very pleasant, I can not see someone traveling to Japan only to visit Okinawa. So make it an opportunity to experience much more of Japan.
Okinawa is best known as a key area in the Second World War (the famous Battle of Okinawa) and since then, a US military base is still present. But it has also become gradually kind of a Japanese Hawaii, as this tropical archipelago is experiencing a median temperature of 74°F / 23°C. And for the anecdote, you probably view landscapes of Okinawa in Karate Kid 2 or Kill Bill.
The symbol of Okinawa is the Shisa, a mixture of dog and bear. The local dialect, known as Okinawa-ben, is significantly different from classical Japanese. Although everyone speaks the language, Okinawans seem proud of their dialect. Here are two examples:
- hello / konnichiwa is 'haisai'
- welcome / yôkoso is 'mensôre'
In 2013, Okinawa has seen 6.41 million tourists.
How to get to Okinawa
By plane -- To Naha, the main city. Since there is no direct flight from outside Asia, stopovers are in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.
By ferry -- In particular from Kagoshima, Tokyo and Osaka. Very long and not necessarily cheaper than the plane.
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
Find a flight to Okinawa Naha
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
How long / when to visit
Pleasant in all seasons, especially in spring and early fall