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095 Okinawa, Japan

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Okinawa, Japan

From the 15th to the 19th century, Okinawa flourished as the Kingdom of Ryukyu, an autonomous state that operated outside the bounds of Japan's central government. In 1879, the Kingdom of Ryukyu was integrated into Japanese society and the name of the islands was changed to Okinawa prefecture. Okinawa comprises of 160 islands of varying sizes called the Ryukyu Islands, stretching for some 350 miles from Kyushu to Taiwan. Its capital, Naha, is the largest city of Okinawa, with some 300,000 people. The subtropical temperature of Okinawa makes for great weather all year round, with hot summers and mild winters.

Beautiful and rare species of plants and animals inhabit Okinawa, and plants and flowers especially thrive in this subtropical zone in every season. In Okinawa, Taiwan cherries bloom the earliest in all of Japan, while flowers such as red deigo flowers, bougainvilleas, pure white Easter lilies, and Golden Trumpet trees (tabebuia) bloom into tropical splendor when in season. Iriomote Island is habitat to the endangered Iriomote wildcats; efforts have been made to protect these cats by declaring part of their habitat a wildlife area. Still, Okinawa’s beauty and attraction further lies in its crystal blue sea, white sand beaches, colorful aquatic inhabitants, and inviting dive sites.

Okinawa is largely shaped by its rich history and culture. Beyond its beginnings as the Kingdom of Ryukyu, Okinawa is known for its role in World War II in the Battle of Okinawa, April 1 to June 22, 1945. The campaign involved over 280,000 troops of the U.S. Tenth Army fighting against 130,000 soldiers of the Japanese Thirty-Second Army in the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. Between 1950 to 1972, Okinawa was under U.S Military control, and today, many U.S Military bases are situated in Okinawa.

Okinawa’s cultural traditions are preserved in its music, arts, and language. Surviving today is the Ryukyu-buyo, an elegant dance that is performed by women in traditional kimono, made of bright-colored Bingata cloth. Also, different festivals are held in Okinawa yearly, including the Okinawa Hari, a fisherman's festival that is centered on prayer for safe fishing at sea.

Okinawa is a popular holiday destination for both Japanese and foreign tourists alike. It is not hard to understand what attracts visitors; the Islands offer beautiful beaches such as the Yonaha Maehama beach in Miyako-jima, which boasts a variety of marine sports, such as jet skiing and boating. Snorkeling and diving are also great activities to be enjoyed on the waters of Okinawa. Other attractions in Okinawa include Shuri Castle Park, Okinawa World, and Okinawa Ocean Expo Park, among others. There are lots to explore on these beautiful islands of Okinawa.  

All sizes are approximate. 

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