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Destination Travel Guide: Experience Okinawa & the Ryukyu Kingdom

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okinawa main lsland mapThe Ryukyu Kingdom once served as a bridge between China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Since becoming a part of Japan in 1868, the Ryukyu Island chain (comprised of 100’s of islands over 620 miles long) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in what is now called the Okinawa prefecture. Along with the warm and welcoming climate, those interested in travel photography will not get bored here. Make sure to include Okinawa on your next trip to Japan for an unforgettable experience full of great photographs and memories.

Check out some of our favorite highlights in Okinawa:

  • Naha, the capital of Okinawa prefecture, is home to both urban life and the last remaining cultural sites ofkokusai dori nightlife the Ryukyu Kingdom. Naha is famous for its cultural scene, which blends domestic and foreign influence creating some of the best music in Japan. Be sure to visit and photograph Shuri Castle, experience the music, food, and nightlife at Kokusai Dori (literally means international road), and and take a swim at Naha’s only beach, Naminoue.

  • Fun on water and land: Combine diverse blues of the ocean with impenetrable emerald greens of old-growth forests and you get the Ryukyu Islands. There are so many opportunities for diving, hiking okinawasnorkeling, and surfing off the coasts of Okinawa and the surrounding islands. The entire prefecture is also famous for some of the best saltwater fishing on the planet. Marlin, tuna, and mahi mahi are a small fraction of the exotic fish that can be caught all-year-round in the surrounding waters. Numerous easy-moderate hikes abound throughout the Ryukyu Islands and there are plenty to choose from on Okinawa itself. Hike up Nago Mountain where various trails give you options on the difficulty and intensity you desire. The views at the top will be worth it whichever way you choose and many trails are well maintained.

  • Yonaguni is a small and remote island that serves as Japan’s westernmost point. However, it is also home to underwater ruins that lieYonaguni Ruins to its south. Corresponding to no known civilization, the ruins are accessible via guided tours, made all the more alluring because the local currents make the location unsuited to unskilled and inexperienced divers. Some fantastic underwater photography can be taken here!

We hope this small sampling of Okinawa’s highlights gets your mouth watering for an adventure to Japan’s treasures in the south. Stay tuned for our first Okinawa adventure when we head east for our Japan group tour in 2015!


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