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Travel Guide Asia Japan Kyushu Ryukyu Islands Okinawa



Chinen Peninsula, Okinawa

Chinen Peninsula, Okinawa

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Okinawa, a prefecture within the Ryukyu Islands, is the tropical paradise of Japan. Located a mere 2.5 to 3.5-hour flight from Osaka and Tokyo, Okinawa is visited by many Japanese people on vacation, school children on their school trips and visitors to Japan. Okinawa has a tropical climate with temperatures that rarely fall below 15 °C in the winter. The waters near Okinawa provide plenty of opportunities to swim, view sea life and coral reefs. There are many water sports available in Okinawa with snorkeling and scuba diving being some of the most popular.



Brief History

Okinawa was an independent kingdom ruled by the Ryukyu kings. In the 15th and 16th centuries it was a major trading partner of China, Japan and many Southeast Asian countries. In the 17th century, the Ryukyu Islands were attacked and surrendered to the Satsuma clan from Kyushu acting on behalf of the Japanese Shogun. However, they still maintained their sovereignty and were able to continue their trade with the Chinese. This exposure to the Japanese culture and Chinese culture had a dramatic affect on the Ryukyu people. This can be seen in the design of their temples, which incorporate both Japanese and Chinese architecture and spirituality.

Okinawa was completely annexed and made a prefecture by the Japanese government in 1872. After being annexed the Japanese government brought in new policies based on western models and required all public education to be taught in standard Japanese as a way of assimilating the Ryukyu people into Japan.

During WWII, the Battle of Okinawa was one of the largest of the war and the only land battle on Japanese soil. It is estimated that this battle resulted in the loss of 100,000 military personnel and over 150,000 civilians, more than one third of the total population of Okinawa. [1]. The Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum was built to remember the tragedies of this battle.

After WWII, Okinawa was occupied by the United States and run by an American military government. This occupation led to the creation of many U.S. military bases. Okinawa was returned to the Japanese government in 1972.[2] Part of this agreement allowed the Americans to keep and maintain their military basis in Okinawa.




The 161 islands [3] of the Okinawa prefecture span 1,000 kilometres [4], from southern Kyushu to Taiwan. The chain of islands comprising Okinawa is itself divided into three archipelagos:

  • Okinawa Islands - surrounding Okinawa-jima
  • Miyako Islands - surrounding Miyako-jima
  • Yaeyama Islands - surrounding Ishigaki-jima




  • Ginowan
  • Ishigaki
  • Itoman
  • Miyakojima
  • Nago
  • Naha (capital)
  • Nanjo
  • Okinawa City (formerly Koza)
  • Tomigusuku
  • Urasoe
  • Uruma



Sights and Activities




Okinawa experiences a subtropical climate, reaching average annual high temperatures of 31 °C in July and August with lows around 26 °C, and highs of around 19-21 °C and lows of 14-16 °C from December to March. [5]. Precipitation starts to rise in April with a peak in August when there is about 250 mm of rain. Rainfall is lowest in December and January with around 100 mm.



Getting There

By Plane

Naha Airport (OKA) is the main gateway to Okinawa. Destinations include all of the major Japanese cities and international destinations include Seoul Incheon International Airport, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Taipei, Hong Kong International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

To/from the airport

  • Rail: The Okinawa Monorail carries passengers from the airport station to the centre of Naha, and to the terminal at Shuri Station, which is closest to Shuri Castle.
  • Bus: Bus service is available to many parts of Okinawa Island.
  • Car: taxis and rental cars are widely available, and there are many parking places available, both for short-term as well as long-term parking.

By Boat

The weekly ferries between Keelung and Kaohsiung in Taiwan and Ishigaki and Miyako in the Okinawa Prefecture have been suspended since 2008. The trip took about 18 hours and boats left Taiwan on Mondays and Okinawa on Thursdays or Fridays. There is talk of new ferries between Japan (either Okinawa or 'mainland' Japan) and Taiwan, but up until now (October 2009) there is no ferry.

Ferries connect Naha with a number of ports on Kyushu and Honshu, including Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Kobe, Osaka and Kagoshima. A one way trip from Tokyo to Naha takes around 44 hours and is only one ferry per week. From Kagoshima on the southern tip of Kyushu, ferries depart for Naha every day though and this is probably the better option if you want to go to Okinawa by ferry as it takes about 25 hours. Check the Japan Ferry Travel Guide for maps, routes, schedules and prices.




Ensuite Hostel Base OkinawaWakasa 1-17-5, Naha CityHostel74
Okinawa Guest House KERAMA3-12-21 Maejima Naha OkinawaHOSTEL78
Hotel Sun Palace Kyuyou2-5-1 kumoji NahaHotel-
Hotel Taira1-14-13 Matsuyama Naha-shiHotel-
Hotel White Beach3-15-5, Maejima Naha cityHotel-
Kashiwaya Guesthouse2-11-22 ukishima-st. matsuo, naha cityHOSTEL86
Okinawa Sora House2-24-15 KumojiGuesthouse76
Osaru-no Oyado (Monkey's Inn)3-23-21, Wakasa Naha CityHOSTEL75
GuestHouse CamCam Okinawa2-20-12 Kumoji Naha-CityHostel-
Guest House Love and Peace3-10, ShiromaeGuesthouse-
Guesthouse Hanahana50-1 Kugai Hirara MiyakojimashiGuesthouse-
Guesthouse Iriwa599 Kabira IshigakiGuesthouse92
Costa del Sol IshigakiTonoshiro 700 IshigakiGuesthouse-
Shell House1-4-8 AsatoHostel64
Yomitan Village Backpackers517-1 no,18 Owan Yomitanson NakagamigunHostel-
Minsyuku AgaihamaAgarihama106-4, YonabaruHOSTEL-
Kumoji-So Hostel3-23-10-6F Kumoji, Naha CityHostel-
Osaru No Oyado Monkey's Inn Itoman413-6,Itoman,Itoman-cityHostel73
Guest House Ryukyu An67 Zakimi, Yomitan-sonGUESTHOUSE-
Okinawa Hostel YANBARU FUKURO205-3 Yabu Nago cityHostel-
Green House Okinawa9-1.2-Chome, Nishi NahaHOSTEL-


  1. 1 Battle of Okinawa, Military History Online - Retrieved on 2008-08-28
  2. 2 Okinawa, Japan, - Retrieved on 2008-08-28
  3. 3 Background and history, - Retrieved on 2008-08-28
  4. 4 Okinawa Travel Guide, - Retrieved on 2008-08-28
  5. 5 Average Weather for Okinawa, - Retrieved on 2008-08-28

Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 26.3626
  • Longitude: 127.810013


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This is version 21. Last edited at 1:59 on May 24, 13 by sleepBot. 10 articles link to this page.

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