An unforgettable trip to explore Okinawa's compelling natural landscapes
Okinawa's islands are mesmerizing, bathed in sunshine, fringed by white sand beaches and populated by tropical plants and animals. Emerald seas await visitors to Ishigaki Island, one of the largest of the Yaeyama Islands. The Kerama Islands are a perfect place to island hop and view many different ecosystems, while Yagaji Island is a convenient getaway that's filled with protected mangroves, mudflats and sugarcane fields.
Ishigaki Island's idyllic subtropical setting offers a wide array of exciting activities, relaxing views of the deep blue ocean, and a dose of traditional island culture. The island also serves as a gateway to the Yaeyama Islands, a group of stunning remote isles 400 kilometers southwest of Okinawa's main island.
Tokashiki Island, Zamami, Aka, and Geruma are the four inhabited islands of the Keramas. Together with the many uninhabited islands that surround them, they make up Keramashoto National Park.
Escape to Yagaji Island for laid-back activities like camping, kayaking, fishing, and barbecues along the beach. Explore protected mangroves and mudflats on an eco-tour, or kayak along the coast to enjoy the picturesque scenery at your own pace.
Get the inside scoop on Okinawan traditions and delicacies
As an isolated island chain, cultural traditions on Okinawa have evolved quite separately from the rest of the country. One iconic cultural phenomenon that has spread far beyond the borders of Okinawa is Karate. This martial art originated in Okinawa and is still practiced at dojos across the prefecture. If sports aren't your thing, try a taste of Awamori, the oldest distilled drink in Japan. Or discover unique creations at the All-Okinawa Yachimun Pottery Market (hosted annually in spring).
A Journey Through Okinawan Karate
Karate is a unique part of Okinawan culture. The martial art was born in Okinawa, and is now practiced by more than 130 million enthusiasts around the globe. For many karateka, or karateka practitioners, Okinawa holds a special place in their hearts.
All-Okinawa Yachimun Pottery Market
Purchase finely crafted ceramics from studios all over Okinawa at the All-Okinawa Yachimun Pottery Market at Hotel Moon Beach in Onna Village. Participate in hands-on pottery workshops and a lucky draw, paint lion-like shisa figurines, and discover other local products, including the hotel's specialty bread.
Awamori: Okinawa's Iconic Spirit
Awamori is the oldest distilled alcoholic drink in Japan, and is believed to be the predecessor of shochu (another distilled Japanese spirit). The technique for making awamori is said to have remained unchanged for over 500 years.
Discover the real Okinawa by day and night
While relaxing on the beach is a highlight of any visit to Okinawa, there's a lot more to discover. Below the waves, divers on Yonaguni Island can get up close and personal with hammerhead sharks. Discover US-Japanese fusion culture on a night out in Koza. And experience the history of functional, beautiful Okinawan yachimun pottery at Naha Tsuboya Yachimun Street, a hot spot for the local craft since the 1600s.
Yonaguni Island Diving
Yonaguni is one of the Yaeyama Islands and the westernmost inhabited island of Okinawa. Boat-entry drift diving is the main diving style here, and highlights include exploring megalithic ruins and encountering hammerhead sharks.
Dive Deep into Okinawa's Nightlife in Koza
There are many attractive night areas on Okinawa's main island, such as Naha's Kokusai Street and environs, and some areas around Chatan. But to get an authentic dose of Okinawa nightlife, it's impossible to overlook the old center of Okinawa City, commonly referred to by its traditional name of Koza.
Visiting Tsuboya Yachimun Street
Whether you are sitting at a dining table or walking through the aisles of a souvenir shop, the eyes are automatically drawn to the colors and craftsmanship of traditional Okinawan pottery. Known as yachimun in Okinawan, these plates, bowls, figurines, and much more, are functional, elegant and part of everyday life on these islands. Dig a little deeper, however, and you find that yachimun pottery also has an interesting story to tell about Okinawa.
Far to the south of Japan's main islands, Okinawa is truly unique. The subtropical climate makes for incredible beaches and diverse flora and fauna, and this small island chain has developed a unique culture of its own.