Okinawa

Okinawa (沖縄県;-ken) is the southernmost prefecture in Japan.

Tropical sun, beaches, food, and a unique culture. The only area with a dialect harder than Akita!

Getting There

This is the pricey part. Flights to Okinawa can be very expensive. You really need to time it perfectly. Package deals through a travel agent are also a good way to go. You can save yourself a good amount of money by booking hotel and flight together through a good travel agent. For those with lots of time (and money) you could also take one of various ferries, mostly from Kyushu.

First, check the time of year. It's Okinawa, but they still have 4 seasons! The beaches open up in March so, if you're all about the beach, plan accordingly. Might also want to think about rain, typhoons and excessive heat. If flying from Akita, you might need to change planes at Haneda Airport. There is a direct flight out of Sendai (Flight ANA463, can be as low as 20,000 if purchased 60 days in advance).

Getting Around

Getting to Naha is the easy part. There are over 50 Islands in the Ryukyu chain and most are accessible via ferry or aerofoil. Some you need to charter a plane to get there. There are various modes of public transportation available, but renting a car is recommended. Getting a "free tour" package which includes flight, hotel and rental car is a good way to go. The company will probably give you a number to call if anything goes wrong. And as noted before, get every optional insurance you can get your paws on. $20 could save you $200 if something happens. The rental cars often GPS, where you just enter the phone number of your destination as opposed to the whole address.

Naha

  • Naha is pretty touristy. International street is basically just a string of omiyage shops that gets pretty old, pretty quick. There are, however, some taco shops on this street. Be careful when going to beaches here, sometimes they are private, and there is a cost to get in. Also don't even think of renting the parasols, they're like 2000yen a pop.
  • Shuri Castle is an OK place to go. Lots of Chinese influence in this one. Pretty touristy.
  • Tamaudun(玉陵) - Cheaper and more authentic than Shurijo, which is right around the corner. This is an actual World Heritage Site, a National Historic Site and national Important Cultural Property, it was donated to the Ryukyan kingdom in 1501. A steal at only 200 yen! It's the remains of royal tombs along with a museum. No Hello Kitty phone straps or a lot of English here though.
  • Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters. 420 yen entrance, ticket from vending machine in main hall.
    Museum and actual underground headquarters used by the Japanese Navy during WWII. English in the headquarters, don't remember if there was English in the museum. Not suitable for the squeamish as rooms have evidence of where mass suicides occurred. Tel:098-850-4055
    Okinawa Convention & Visitor Bureau
  • Himeyuri Peace Memorial - Can be really depressing, but is very well done. It's recommended, but only if followed by something fun.
  • (fun fact) At one time there were Mongoose vs. Snake fights. These are probably illegal now, but if you can make friends with some seedier types, perhaps you could catch a not so legal one. If that's what you're into

Hotels

  • Sunset American Hotel
    Technically in Chatan town, which is close to Naha. Nothing fancy, but at $40 per night its not a bad place to crash.

Food/drink

  • Eclipse
    ☎ 098-936-6108
    Addr:15-59 Minato, Chatan Town
    Definitely more about the presentation and staff. It's a flair bar (think Tom Cruise's "Cocktail", without Scientology). Lot of attention to detail, like instead of using ice, they use frozen juice or milk in some drinks. The master and most of the staff are fluent.
  • Cafe Terrace Nirai(www.niraicafe.com) (Chatan Town)
    Nirai has an artsy, tropical laid back feel, with the most amazing drinks (taste, alcohol content and presentation...pina colada, a must try). The second floor was also used by local artists as a gallery space.
  • The Naha Harbor Diner
    ☎ 098-859-6530
    Looks like a tourist trap, but is highly recommended. It's literally a tree house. The food was actually amazing, the price wasn't bad, beautiful restaurant and amazing view. You'll know it when you see it... On route 58. It's part of "Banyan Town" (address actually says, 木の上) NAHA Harbor Diner

Do

  • Scuba
    Reef Encounters - Right around the corner from Sunset American hotel. Reef Encounters has English speaking staff. If you're not certified, they have an intro dive course which includes instruction, equipment and guide.
  • Flyboard
    Flyboard Okinawa Open all year, 25 mins ¥6,300. Address: うるま市宇堅644-3沖縄県. ☎ 080-3752-9500, 090-2410-2810

See also

Akita JET Travel Guide
Hokkaido Hokkaido
Tohoku Aomori • Akita • Fukushima • Iwate • Miyagi • Yamagata
Kanto Chiba • Gunma • Ibaraki • Kanagawa • Saitama • Tochigi • Tokyo
Chubu Aichi • Fukui • Gifu • Ishikawa • Mie • Nagano • Niigata • Shizuoka • Toyama • Yamanashi
Kansai Hyogo • Kyoto • Nara • Osaka • Shiga • Wakayama
Chugoku Hiroshima • Okayama • Shimane • Tottori • Yamaguchi
Shikoku Ehime • Kagawa • Kōchi • Tokushima
Kyushu Fukuoka • Kagoshima • Kumamoto • Miyazaki • Nagasaki • Ōita • Saga • Okinawa