Yesterday Hammy and I asked a friend who had just came back from Japan which part did he go, and he replied, Tokyo. Then I asked if he has heard of Okinawa?
He then said, “No what’s that? Isn’t Okinawa a brand?” Hahaha I had a great laugh and exclaimed, “Noo! That’s OGAWA!! And Okinawa is a part of Japan!” LOL.
Watch the three-part series of “Life, by Okinawa” here:
For me too, it was only recently that I found out that Okinawa is a group of 150 islands that is separate from Japan’s mainland (which comprises of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and other more popular prefectures). The group of islands are the southernmost tip of Japan, and lie in the East China Sea in between Japan’s mainland and Taiwan. It’s a 3-hour flight from Tokyo and 2 hours from Osaka to the Okinawan islands, but like many less travelled destinations in the world, Okinawa is a gem waiting to be discovered. Regardless of what kind of holiday you’re looking for, Okinawa has something unique to offer. The native culture, known as Ryukyu culture, differs from the rest of Japan. Even the language is slightly different as well! With the highest number of centenarians in the world, there’s bound to be something to learn from the people’s way of lives, food intake, positive outlook on life, and longevity.
Climate & Habitat
Okinawa’s subtropical climate with mild winters mean that the islands are lush with thriving flora and greenery, gentle to native animals, and boasts some of the world’s best crystal clear beaches.
Things to do in Okinawa
With more than a hundred islands, and with each offering a different experience, you could practically spend an entire holiday island hopping. Most of the inhabited islands are connected by ferry routes, bridges, and even plane rides! There are car rental and bicycle rental services on some islands for you to get around easily.
Explore unchartered forests and untouched nature
If you’re one who loves trudging in beautiful forests, observing wildlife, and being close to nature, Okinawa Main Island‘s nature trails will bring you around, even passing by natural waterfalls. Trek up to the highest points of the forests and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the island.
Kayak through rivers surrounded by mangrove forests
If you’re up for it and love an adventure, Urauchi and Nakama Rivers in Iriomote Island offer both guided and unguided kayak sessions!
Snorkel and dive to abundant marine life
Miyako Island is best known for its gorgeous white sandy beaches, clear blue waters, and surrounding coral reefs. Maehama Beach and Yoshino Beach on Miyako Island are two of Japan’s best ranked beaches, and are perfect for swimming, relaxing, and snorkeling.
Explore the Ryukyu Castles and Villages
There are a few castles in Okinawa that were homes to Kings from the Ryukyu Kingdom before it became a Japanese prefecture in 1879. The castles were badly damaged by wars and fires during turbulent times, but the Shuri Castle on Okinawa Main Island that you see here was re-constructed in 1992 and named a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are also well preserved traditional Ryukyu villages on Taketomi Island you can visit! Apart from walking down the streets, you can also enter some houses that are used as shops and restaurants selling local cuisine and crafts.
Pick up new skills from masters / craftsmen
With its deep rich culture, Okinawa is a place where masters reside. These masters live and breathe their craft, and you’ll be learning and training with the best. For karate practitioners, you might already know that Okinawa is the birthplace of the martial art!
Get a taste of local delicacies
The longevity of the residents can be attributed to their diet of locally grown vegetables and fruits. Okinawan cuisine is a little different from what the rest of Japan eats. You have to try the local vegetable, Goya, which is rich in minerals and vitamins, or a special juice mix of Shiquasa and Hibiscus, that improves blood circulation.
Plan a trip to Okinawa!
There’s a rewarding journey waiting for everyone at Okinawa, whether you’re an adventure-seeker, health and fitness-junkie, or simply looking for a quiet retreat away from stressful city-life. The picturesque beaches and pristine blue waters really swept me away, and I’m definitely pinning Okinawa on my travel wish list after this! :)