Interesting facts about Okinawa Japan
Okinawa Japan is different from all the other prefectures of Japan. I’ve been told that Okinawa is the Hawaii of Japan. By this, people mean that it is separate from the rest both geographically and culturally. Many Japanese go to Okinawa for vacation because of its warm climate and beautiful beaches. For those how don’t know much about the islands, here are some interesting facts!
-Okinawa is not one island, but a whole island chain. It is separated into three major groups of islands. The capital, Naha, is located on the main island, called Okinawa Island.
-Okinawa is about halfway between Taiwan and Japan. Actually, the island chain between Okinawa and Taiwan is disputed by the two countries.
-Like Hawaii, Okinawa was once an independent kingdom. Ryuukyuu, as it was called, traded a lot with China. In the early 1600’s, at a time when Japan was isolated from the rest of the world including China, the Japanese invaded Okinawa and set up a trading relationship. One reason was that they could trade with China indirectly. Ryuukyuu was kept as a separate sovereign kingdom until the Meiji Restoration in 1867, when it officially became part of Japan.
-Okinawan people are more ethnically related to Chinese and Filipinos than mainland Japanese. As a result, some Okinawan languages are still spoken. In addition, Okinawa has its own ancient religious beliefs which are still widely practiced.
-After World War II, Okinawa remained under the control of the United States for 27 years, ending officially in 1972. There is still a huge US military presence on the islands because of the bases there, and the US military is the largest employer.
-Okinawa is known for its high number of residents who live to be over 100. This is usually attributed to their healthy diet.
-Okinawa is said to have the most beautiful beaches in all of Japan. The temperature is warm all year around and it has some unusual wildlife worth seeing, like giant sea turtles!
-Probably Okinawa’s most famous cultural export is karate. Most of us who grew up in the States first heard of Okinawa from the movie The Karate Kid. Okinawa is where he goes to train and practice with Mr. Miyagi!
Of all the prefectures of Japan, Okinawa is probably the most unique. It is worth the trip to experience its unique culture.