Region
Kyushu
Island
Ryukyu Islands
Largest City
Naha
Population
1,318,281

Okinawa

Japan's tropical island paradise

Discover white sandy beaches, crystal blue waters, wild jungles, and centuries of unique native traditions.

Japan’s Okinawa region is a total of 113 islands that stretch from Kyushu’s southern tip towards Taiwan. Considered the country’s own little Hawaii, the prefecture offers a remote yet accessible getaway that deserves Bora Bora-levels of holiday brochure stardom. It has some of the world’s best scuba diving, gorgeous hiking, acclaimed music, and a distinct food culture centered around medicinal ingredients that sustains Japan’s longest-living citizens.

The Ryukyu Kingdom

"Naha City. Traditional dance performers make their way down "Kokusai St." (International St.) during a local festival."

Okinawa has its own unique history and culture that is different from mainland Japan.

Okinawa is distinct from the rest of Japan. Once known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, the archipelago was annexed by Japan through military incursion in 1872. Today, Okinawans are known for their warmth and expressiveness, while the vibe of the islands is relaxed and friendly. It also happens to be the birthplace of karate.

9 Superstitions from Okinawa

Islands see record numbers of domestic tourists from mainland Japanese visit every year for some much-needed rest and relaxation from city life.

There are three major island groups: the central Okinawa Islands, the Miyako Islands, and the Yaeyama Islands. Most visitors will arrive in Okinawa via Naha, the prefectural capital, which mainly functions as a transport hub and home away from home for the nearby U.S marine bases. The popular Kerama Islands are easily accessible as a day trip from Naha.

Miyako and Yaeyama Islands

Sea Turtle in Okinawa, Japan.

Experience world-class scuba diving.

To access the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands, you’ll need to fly, but the extra journey out is worth the effort. The Miyako Islands are about 300 kilometers south of central Okinawa and boast many of Japan’s best beaches, such as Maehama.

Nearby Yaeyama is home to incredible coral reefs. Here, you’ll find manta rays, hammerhead sharks, and underwater ruins. It makes for some of the world’s best snorkeling and scuba diving.

Plan your trip to Okinawa with the links below!

Trivia

9 Superstitions from Okinawa

With a unique history, subtropical climate, and the beautiful surrounding ocean, Okinawa is must see part of Japan. Learn more about the weird and wonderful superstitions that contribute to their unique culture.

More

Places to visit

Miyakojima Okinawa Irabu Bridge

Miyakojima

Island dreamin’ on Okinawa’s fourth-largest island.

5 Famous Foods You'll Find in Okinawa - Goya Chanpuru

Ishigaki Island Okinawa

Ishigaki

An island-hopping hub perfect for diving, snorkeling, and hiking.

Habu Encounter at Okinawa World

Habu Encounter at Okinawa World

Get up close and personal with Okinawa’s most dangerous snake.


Uwaga Jungle night trekking in Okinawa World

Uwaga Jungle Night Trekking at Okinawa World

Take a walk on the wild side.

Naha

Fly south to Okinawa’s sun-kissed capital for the perfect vacation.


8men Okinawa

Naha’s LGBT nightlife options near Kokusai Dori may be few but are never boring.

Naminoue Beach

Need a quick dip while in Naha? This is the only beach you can swim at while in the main city of Okinawa.


American Village

A slice of the States in the heart of Okinawa.

Nago Pineapple Park

Okinawa: Island of sun, brilliant beaches and… all-you-can-eat pineapples!


Kuroshima

The "heart" of Okinawa.

Ryugujo Butterfly Garden

What does one wear on a date with a butterfly!? Red. Red and lots of perfume...


Umikaji Terrace

Naha’s own version of Santorini.

The Shuri Castle in Okinawa, Japan was a capital of Ryukyu kingdom.

Shuri Castle

The castle of dragons.


A guardian shisa lion dog, on the roof of an Okinawan home.

Tsuboya Pottery Street

The 330-year-old center and symbol of Okinawan pottery.

Pedestrians and traffic on International Street. The street is the main thoroughfare and entertainment district of the city.

Kokusai Dori (International Street)

Get your eat/shop/drink on.

Other Destinations in Kyushu

Dazaifu shrine in Fukuoka prefecture

Fukuoka

Fukuoka Prefecture isn't just about partying, but it's a good place to start.

Kagoshima, Japan with Sakurajima Volcano.

Kagoshima

Traditional, tropical, mystical, and magical; Kagoshima is nothing short of extraordinary.

Mountain Pass in Kumamoto Prefecture Japan

Kumamoto

Between the smoking crater of Mount Aso in the east and the isolated islands of Amakusa in the west, Kumamoto has plenty to keep you enthralled.

Takachiho gorge in Miyazaki Prefecture

Miyazaki

Miyazaki is a mountainous and mango-growing prefecture to rival Okinawa in the tropical paradise stakes.

View over Mount Unzen Hot Spring - Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture Japan

Nagasaki

Looking out to the East, Nagasaki prefecture has long been the gateway between the outside world and Japan.

Beppu, in Oita prefecture, Japan's onsen town

Oita

Bathe in hell (in a good way) in onsen-filled Oita.

Saga Prefecture Rice fields in Japan

Saga

Saga is the smallest prefecture on the island of Kyushu best known for its prized, and pricey, pottery.

This Month’s Top Spots

Nagoya City Aichi Park

Aichi

Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Tokyo Skyline Japan Tokyo Tower

Tokyo

From glittering skyscrapers to rickety ramen shacks, Tokyo is a dazzling mix of the ultra modern and traditional.

Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.

Akihabara

Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.