Okinawa Island is one of Japan's veritable gems, with a wealth of intriguing attractions and breathtaking natural beauty. Under U.S. control until 1972, the island was home to several Pacific Theater battles took place at the end of World War Two. Over one-quarter of Okinawa's civilian population, in addition to tens of thousands of American and Japanese soldiers, lost their lives in one 82-day stretch in 1945 and today, the island serves as a de facto monument.
The island's population of 1.2 million is spread out over several cities and villages, the most prominent of which is Naha, the modern capital of Okinawa. Home to over 300,000 people, the city contains many fine points of interest, from UNESCO World Heritage Shuri Castle to Lake Man. Nanjō is a city of 40,000 people in south Okinawa with many excellent beaches, golf courses and a brilliant UNESCO World Heritage attraction known as Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryūkyū.
Okinawa Island History
- Peace Memorial Park and Himeyuri Monument - Commemorates the place where the Battle of Okinawa ended.
- Shuri Castle - One of many castles throughout Okinawa Island from the Ryukyu Kingdom.
- The Shureimon Temple - Landmark built out of red rock and red sand by the emperor of the city during the 1700s.
- Nagasaki Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims - A place in remembrance of this event during WWII.
- Glover Garden - An open-air museum of nine homes built between the late 1800s and early 1900s for Western merchants.
Okinawa Island Art & Culture
- Kitakyushi Museum of Natural History and Human History - A museum that features permanent and seasonal exhibits.
- Gallery Atos - A wonderful art gallery in Naha that features Okinawan artists.
- Kyushi National Museum - Home to the national museum.
- Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum - Located in Naha, home to Okinawan artefacts.
- Kyoko Art - Owned and run by Kyoto Nakamoto, a local painter.
Okinawa Island Shopping
- Mihama American Village - Made to resemble an American beach area and includes a Ferris wheel.
- Kokusaidori Street - A main street in Naha lined with stores, restaurants and night entertainment.
- Mango House - A store on Okinawa Island that features popular Okinawan shirts similar to Hawaiian shirts.
- Shintoshin District - This area includes two enclosed shopping areas and a duty free shopping zone.
- Kokusai Street - The heart of the shopping area of Naha that branches out to the old market area.
Gay & Lesbian Okinawa Island
- Mint Blue - A welcoming and friendly lesbian bar in Okinawa.
- Moon Drive Cafe - A cafe bar on Okinawa Island.
- OutJapan - A great bilingual networking site for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual visitors.
- The Love Ball - Hosts gay parties in Naha and also features drag artists.
- Fellow Bar - A warm and friendly place in Okinawa open until the wee hours of the night.
Okinawa Island Outdoor
- Seifa-utaki - Rock formations that lead to a place overlooking Kudaku Island.
- Cape Zanpa - Peninsula on the west side of Okinawa Island with a lovely beach and a lighthouse.
- Hiji Falls - Located in the north and a great place for a hike.
- Haneji Inland Sea - Surrounded by Yayagi Island and has especially gorgeous sunsets.
- Cape Hedo - On the north side, featuring beautiful views from the cliffs.
Okinawa Island Sport
- The F.C. Ryūkyū soccer team plays at the Okinawa General Athletic Stadium.
- The Okinawa Convention Centre is home to the Ryukyu Golden Kings basketball team.
- For a local game of handball, check out the Ryukyu Corazon handball team at the Okinawa Island National Sports Centre.
- Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks baseball team’s home stadium is the Yahoo Dome.
- The Okinawa Open golf tournament is played each December.
- Shuri Castle
- Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryūkyū
- Peace Memorial Park
- Cape Hedo
- Hiji Falls
- Eisa Festival
- Ocean Expo Park
- Naha Festival
- Zanpa Beach
- Renaissance Beach
- Kojaku Shokudo
- Bar Dick
- Club Cielo
- Campnou Bar
- Paddy Macs
Okinawa enjoys four seasons, with mild winters, very hot summers and heavy rain between May and October.
- Winter (December to February) 3-12°C
- Spring (March to May) 6-23°C
- Summer (June to September) 21-31°C
- Fall (October to November) 11-24°C
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