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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.
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. . 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. Part of this agreement allowed the Americans to keep and maintain their military basis in Okinawa.
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. . 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.
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
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 Okinawa||Wakasa 1-17-5, Naha City||Hostel||75|
|Okinawa Guest House KERAMA||3-12-21 Maejima Naha Okinawa||HOSTEL||76|
|Hotel Sun Palace Kyuyou||2-5-1 kumoji Naha||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Taira||1-14-13 Matsuyama Naha-shi||Hotel||-|
|Hotel White Beach||3-15-5, Maejima Naha city||Hotel||-|
|Kashiwaya Guesthouse||2-11-22 ukishima-st. matsuo, naha city||HOSTEL||86|
|Okinawa Sora House||2-24-15 Kumoji||Guesthouse||76|
|Osaru-no Oyado (Monkey's Inn)||3-23-21, Wakasa Naha City||HOSTEL||74|
|GuestHouse CamCam Okinawa||2-20-12 Kumoji Naha-City||Hostel||-|
|Guest House Love and Peace||3-10, Shiromae||Guesthouse||-|
|Guesthouse Hanahana||50-1 Kugai Hirara Miyakojimashi||Guesthouse||-|
|Guesthouse Iriwa||599 Kabira Ishigaki||Guesthouse||92|
|Costa del Sol Ishigaki||Tonoshiro 700 Ishigaki||Guesthouse||-|
|Shell House||1-4-8 Asato||Hostel||64|
|Yomitan Village Backpackers||517-1 no,18 Owan Yomitanson Nakagamigun||Hostel||-|
|Minsyuku Agaihama||Agarihama106-4, Yonabaru||HOSTEL||-|
|Kumoji-So Hostel||3-23-10-6F Kumoji, Naha City||Hostel||-|
|Osaru No Oyado Monkey's Inn Itoman||413-6,Itoman,Itoman-city||Hostel||74|
|Guest House Ryukyu An||67 Zakimi, Yomitan-son||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Okinawa Hostel YANBARU FUKURO||205-3 Yabu Nago city||Hostel||-|
|Green House Okinawa||9-1.2-Chome, Nishi Naha||HOSTEL||-|
as well as Hien (6%)
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