Where is Okinawa?
The weather in Okinawa
As Okinawa belongs to a subtropical climatic region and has an annual average temperature of 73.9 °F. A seasonal wind blows from the south in summer and from the north in winter. About 10-15 typhoons hit Okinawa each year during the summer and autumn months. To be prepared for a typhoon and you should regularly check typhoon warnings in the paper and on TV and radio. When a typhoon warning is announced, the public transportation services stop and school and public offices are closed. The best season to visit Okinawa could be the period right after the rainy season, about from the end of June to the end of August. In addition the swimming season is from the beginning of April until around October.
Due to poor public transportation, a rental car is the recommended method of getting around Okinawa Honto, especially when accessing sights outside of central Naha. Rental car service offices can be found at Naha Airport. The traffic can get heavy in Naha and central Okinawa, especially for during the rush hours on weekdays. To get from Naha to northern Okinawa, it is convenient to take the Okinawa Expressway, which extends from Naha to the northern city of Nago.
Public transportation on Okinawa Honto is limited to buses, with the exception of the Okinawa Monorail in central Naha. The bus network is quite dense, but it is pretty complicated to find the right connections. The main hub of the bus network is the Naha Bus Terminal, but some of the lines can also be boarded at the airport. One of the most important bus lines is the number 111, which connects Naha Airport and Naha Bus Terminal via the Okinawa Expressway with Nago Bus Terminal in northern Okinawa. Nago Bus Terminal is the hub for accessing the sights of northern Okinawa Honto. Also of interest to visitors to northern Okinawa is the Yanbaru Express Bus (Yanbaru Kyuko Bus), which connects Naha Airport and central Naha with the Motobu Peninsula, including the Churaumi Aquarium. In addition, there are a few airport limousine buses which connect Naha Airport and Naha Bus Terminal with some of the leading resort hotels across the island, including Manza Beach, Moon Beach and Zampa Beach. Also the daily ferry between Naha and Kagoshima stops at Motobu Port on the Motobu Peninsula along the way, and can be used to travel between Naha and the Motobu Peninsula. The ferries depart from Naha Port near the Naha Bus Terminal and Asahibashi Station on the Okinawa Monorail.
A city district of Naha today, Shuri is the name of the former capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Shuri Castle served as the administrative center and residence of the Ryukyu kings for several centuries until Okinawa became a Japanese prefecture in 1879. The castle is included as one of the UNESCO World Heritage designated Castles of the Ryukyu Kingdom sites.
Shuri Castle was originally built in the late 1300s, and played an integral role in the political unification of the island. Castle was destroyed by Wars and fires destroyed multiple times over the centuries, most recently in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The current buildings are beautiful because they were reconstructed in 1992. The approach to the castle's central buildings leads through many gates and well known Shureimon gate is included. The castle's hilltop location allows for wonderful views over Naha city along the way. Shureimon Gate stands the top of the hill of the main hall of the castle. The former venue of major affairs of state and ceremonies, the Seiden is the most lavishly decorated building and a landmark of Okinawa. The architectural design of Seiden and vermilion color differ significantly with those of castles on mainland Japan. Una Plaza extends in front of the Seiden and was used for ceremonies in the past. It is encircled on the other three sides by the Hokuden (North Hall), Nanden (South Hall) and the Hoshinmon (Hoshin Gate). The Hokuden and Nanden served as administrative buildings and venues to welcome envoys from China and mainland Japan respectively.
Shuri Castle’s outer gates and Naha Port visible in the distance: The interiors of the castle can be explored by visitors in a circular route, beginning with the Nanden. Informative exhibits are on display outlining the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom as well as the interaction with the Japanese mainland and China. Historical artifacts, both made on the island and received during foreign trade, are also on display. While the inside of Hokuden and Nanden are constructed like modern museums, the inside of the Seiden has been rebuilt in its original style. Visitors are able to get a feel for the splendor that surrounded the Ryukyu kings.
Dai Sekirinzan Park
Visiting the northern part of Okinawa islands without a car is time-consuming and not very convenient, so most visitors concentrate on the more accessible attractions around southern part of the island. However there are recommonded places to visit in the northern part also. Best of all, though still not well known, but Dai Sekirinzan Park, right at Cape Hedo, is at the northernmost tip of the island. It is possible to visit it by public bus, but a rental car is best. Cape Hedo has become more popular in recent years. A monument commemorating the end of the U.S. occupation provides a photo op, and on clear days the 23km distant Yoron Island can be seen. Going to the cape the main road passes by the last outcropping of high country, and in there is Sekirinzan. It's easy to find from the main road because of the sign.in road. Dai Sekirinzan is a karst, a limestone plateau eroded over millions of years by water, and it is believed by geologists that it can be the oldest part of the island, which is the part of that first rose up out of the sea to create the island of Okinawa. Dai Sekirinzan is part geological wonder, part nature reserve, part a great hiking and walking destination, and part cultural site with sacred shrines, which has led it to being proclaimed a "Power Spot”.
Sefa Utaki means "purified place of Utaki". It is an historical sacred space and an important sacred site of the indigenous Okinawan religion which is similar to Shinto. It places emphasis on the worship of nature. The site is located on a densely forested hillside along the ocean and features several rock formations, which are connected with each other by walking trails. Sefa Utaki is included as one of World Heritage sites of Okinawa.
Although regarded as a powerful spiritual site beforehand, it was in the early 16th century that Sefa Utaki came into prominence. During this period the Okinawa’s religion underwent reorganization and centralization under the royal government. Sefa Utaki became one of the main locations for religious ceremonies and rituals. Reflecting the strong connection between the royal family and the religion, the sites for prayers at Sefa Utaki were named after important places in Shuri Castle.
Ryukyu Glass Village
Ryukyu Glass Village is the largest glass factory in Okinawa Japan, established in 1985. Our glassware is 100% handmade with vivid colors and various shapes like picturing the nature of Okinawa, specializing in blown & cased glass, created by skilled craftsmen. Let's make the only glass in the world. If you join any Making Experience class below, we give you a 10 - 15% OFF discount coupon of Glass Shop & Glass Museum.
Bullfighting meet in Uruma City
Bullfighting is close to as "ushiorase" in Okinawa. It develops as entertainment for common people from old times and is succeeded.
Above all, Uruma-shi is known as "prefecture first-rate bullfighting dokoro", and youth and woman, fans of foreigner increase recently, also. When we watch a game of Okinawa traditional culture "bullfighting" full of spirit raw by all means. Bullfighting is a unique cultural feature of Okinawa that has existed as local entertainment for over 100 years. And it also survived the difficult days of World War II. In an Okinawa’s bullfight, unlike Spanish bullfights, where a matador faces a bull, two bulls are matched against each other. Matches are not fixed, resulting in a true test of bovine strength and endurance. A match ranges from a quick one that finishes in a few seconds to a heated battle that stretches out to over half an hour, which causes tournament length to vary from two-and-a-half to four hours. When his opponent runs away one bull wins the match. In fighting, the bulls demonstrate their own special moves to beat an opponent. A well-done technique resulting in victory prompts the audience to enthusiastic roars. Throughout the year there are over 40 bullfighting tournaments the year. They are held almost every Sunday at one of 10 bullrings on the island. The most important among them all are the all-island bullfighting tournaments held in spring (second Sunday in May) and fall (second Sunday in November), which usually attract a crowd of approximately 4,500. Tournaments are normally scheduled for Sundays, with general admission set at 3,000 yen. Visitors from overseas are offered a special price of 2,000 yen and payment is only by Yen.
Shikinaen was constructed in the end of the 18th century as the second residence of the Ryukyu kings. It is beautiful, relatively simple, wooden palace buildings with Okinawan style, red tile roofs and a spacious Japanese style landscape garden with a central pond. While the garden is designed in a style seen elsewhere in Japan, the architecture and flora give Shikinaen a uniquely Okinawa’s flavor.
In 1945 Shikinaen was completely destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa, but it has been neatly restored in the postwar years. Shikinaen was among the sites added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the title Gusuku Sites in 2000 and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.
The garden can be viewed from a 300 meter circular path, which leads through a forested area before reaching the pond. Two stone bridges connect to a small islet in the middle of the water and they allow visitors to cross from one side of the pond to the other. A small hexagonal pavilion stands on a second islet. Artificial hills surround the pond. They give the garden more vantage points and character.
The palace building stands near the pond's shore. The beautifully wooden structure used to serve the entertainment of the royal family and important guests. Today, visitors can inspect the building's large tatami floored rooms that look out onto the garden.
Kokusaidori ( Kokusaidōri, literally "International Road")means International Street. It is Naha's main street, stretching for about two kilometers through downtown Naha. The street takes its name from the former "Ernie Pyle International Theater" which was a movie theater. That was built along the road after the war. Starting around the Naha Bus Terminal and Prefectural Hall, Kokusaidori is lined by souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, boutiques and department stores. Many shops remain open until 11pm, and you can listen to live Okinawa music at several restaurants.
If you are looking for even more shopping opportunities, you are encouraged to venture into the colorful Heiwadori, Mutsumidori and Ichiba Hondori arcades, which branch off Kokusaidori around the intersection with Okieidori, halfway along the street. There you can find the shops which are smaller than those along Kokusaeidori and are often made up of just a small booth and a single shop owner.
Okinawa Prefecture, in the southernmost part of the Japanese archipelago, consists of some 160 islands of various size. In addition to Okinawa Main Island, the Kerama Islands as well have been attracting a lot of attention and are the most popular destination for tourists among the remote islands. This cluster of about 20 islands, is 35 kilometers west of Okinawa Main Island. And four inhabited islands are included such as Tokashiki-jima, Zamami-jima, Aka-jima and Geruma-jima. It takes approximately 35 minutes to reach Tokashiki-jima Island from Tomari Port (Tomarin Ferry Terminal) in Naha, and 60 minutes to reach Zamami-jima or Aka-jima Island by high-speed ship, making these islands good destinations for a daytrip. With emerald green waters transparent to a depth of 50 to 60 meters, this area is also well known as one of the best diving spots in the world.
The largest island among the Kerama Islands is Tokashiki-jima, with a circumference of 20 kilometers. Two-hundred-meter-high hills covered with tropical vegetation abound. The highest mountain is Mt. Akama-yama. On the top of the mountano, 227 meters you can find a 360-degree panoramic view of the countryside. The island's crowning glory is without a doubt the shining emerald green ocean and the long, white sand beaches flecked with coral. You can enjoy all types of resort activities there, such as diving and fishing. Or even watch humpback whales as they swim around the islands in early spring.
Zamami-jima Island is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. Enjoy diving there from spring to fall, as well as whale watching from January to March. Humpback whales mate during this time of the year, and they travel around the sea near the islands. And they swim dynamically through the water and the scene attracts many watchers. Cottages and camping sites are also available for outdoor enthusiasts.
Aka-jima and Geruma-jima islands are connected by Aka-ohashi Bridge and are surrounded by vast ocean scenery, with rocks of peculiar shapes and transparent waters. Also, there are primeval forests where the protected species of Kerama deer live, making it a wonderful spot for those who want to relax in unspoiled nature.
Manzamo is a natural vantage point where over 10,000 people at once can sit on the cliff and enjoy the spectacular view often referred to in ancient Okinawa songs and literature. A young poet from Okinawa named Yoshia Chiru is said to have received divine inspiration to write a poem for the Ryukyuan king after meditating at this spot. The style of poetry she helped immortalize is as important to Okinawan literature and history as haiku is to mainland Japan. A monument was erected here to honor her and her contributions to Okinawan culture. For many people over the centuries, these cliffs have offered a serene setting for meditation and relaxation.
The Mihama American Village is a large entertainment complex located in central Okinawa main island. Many American military bases are located in this area, and the entertainment complex' theme of Americana provides a nostalgic pleasure for residents of the bases as well as an interesting diversion for the locals. There are a big American outdoor shopping mall with lots of shops, restaurants, cafes and a large parking lot in The Mihama American Village.
The most recognizable feature of the American Village is the large Ferris wheel. The Americana theme is found at many establishments, such as fashion shops selling American brand clothing or restaurants specializing in hot dogs and hamburgers. American and Japanese movies are shown at the Mihama 7 Plex movie theater. Just a few steps away along the waterfront is Sunset Beach. The beach is facing westward and it is a good place to catch the sunset and is a popular spot for barbecues.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
In Okinawan language "Churaumi" means "clear and beautiful seas". Under the catch phrase "The Mysteries of Okinawa in Living Color," Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium opened its doors as one of the world's largest aquariums in August 2002 inside the Okinawa Commemorative National Government Park located in the northwest area of Okinawa Island.
There are 77 tanks in total in the aquarium. The main Kuroshio Sea Tank has an enormous capacity, stretching from the first floor all the way to the second floor of the aquarium. The acrylic panel separating the tank interior from the outside is 8.2 meters high, 22.5 meters wide, and 60 centimeters thick. It held the place as the world's largest acrylic panel in the Guinness Book of Records until 2008. Here you can see schools of whale sharks and manta ray as well as many other kinds of sea life both large and small. The tank side has a half-dome shaped observation space. You can enjoy the wondrous sight of fish swimming gracefully by as if you were looking up from the bottom of the sea.
Touch real starfish and sea cucumbers at the Life in Inoh (touch pool), a tank that recreates the conditions of a real coral reef shoal. And the Coral Sea tank is open to the sky. The world's first large-scale cultivation of living coral has been made possible by supplying natural sunlight and fresh ocean water to the tank interior. The aquarium cultivates approximately 800 colonies of coral from nearby Okinawa waters. Shows and tank explanations also take place every day. If you look at the times of events on the pamphlet you receive upon entering, you can plan your time in the aquarium to see the attractions that catch your eye. Also, the Ocean Expo Park has many more exciting attractions, such as Emerald Beach, the Oceanic Culture Museum, and the Tropical Dream Center. So you can enjoy the waters of Okinawa as long as your time permits.
The Nakijin Castle Ruins (Nakijinjōato)
The Nakijin Castle Ruins are located on the Motobu Peninsula of northern Okinawa Honto. They are among the UNESCO World Heritage designated Castles of the Ryukyu Kingdom. in contradistinction to other castles on Okinawa, Nakijin Castle stands in an area of low population density with lush forests, that bestow the ruins with a unique atmosphere.
Nakijin Castle was built in the late 1200s. During the Sanzan Period (1322-1429), Okinawa Honto was divided into three kingdoms: the Hokuzan in the north, the Chuzan in the middle and the Nanzan in the south. Nakijin served as the castle of the Hokuzan king until it was taken over by the Chuzan on their way to unifying the island and forming the Ryukyu Kingdom.
In addition the castle ruins stands the Nakijin Village History and Culture Center with a small museum. They display items unearthed on the castle grounds, such as Chinese pottery, coins and documents. There are also exhibits about everyday life and culture of Nakijin Village. The Nakijin Castle Ruins are located on the Motobu Peninsula in northern Okinawa Honto, about 90 kilometers from Naha, and about a ten minute car ride from the Ocean Expo Park.
Just north of the aquarium, there is old-day flavored little village. It is hiding under dense foliage, called Bise. In the village, here and there, you will find yourself under a thick canopy of Fukugi trees lining sandy pathways. You will pass private homes, small restaurants, wandering animals, and a magical shell shop, among other surprises. Walking through the village the sun is blocked by thick leaves that tower over you. At small intersections you will see pathways to the ocean where the sun is beaming through; these paths lead you to the ocean where you can walk along the water, with a beautiful view of Ie Shima Island. This village is the place that will make you smile. You could stay here all day if you are a lover of nature. In a wondrous land you will feel like an explorer, a photographer, a traveler. The natural beauty has yet to be overrun by tourists and on a calm day all you hear are the waves in the background and the wind through the trees. There are bike rentals and while we wandered around on foot, through the trees framing the path we would see people whizzing by on bicycles. You may see the signs for the Bise Fukugi Tree Road, or Bise Village, throughout Nago. As you get closer, they gear toward Ocean Expo Park and the Chaurami Aquarium. However, if you continue past Emerald Beach, You will finally see a sign for Bise but we recommend turning down an unmarked road just before the sign with the ocean to your left. You will arrive at a small parking area. Then park the car, and explore this area on foot.
If you decide to find Bise Village, please remember that people live here. You are walking by their homes in a quiet neighborhood; Respect their privacy. They keep the path and streets clean and are very kind and courteous.
The Tower of Himeyuri
Near the end of World War Two, Okinawa Honto became the site of one of the war's bloodiest battles, when the US forces invaded and occupied the island. An estimated 200,000 people, including more than 100,000 civilians and 12,500 Americans were killed in the battle. It lasted from April to June 1945.
The devastating effects of the war had a profound impact on the Okinawans, and there are a number of monuments and museums relating to the period throughout Okinawa Honto. The worst fighting of the battle took place in the south, and that is why and where some of the larger monuments have been constructed. The main memorial to the Battle of Okinawa is the Peace Memorial Park located near the southern tip of the island. Its main attraction is the Peace Memorial Museum. You can find a sobering overview of the lead up to the battle, the battle itself and the reconstruction of Okinawa.
Other monuments in the park include the "Cornerstone of Peace", a collection of large stone plates with the names of all fallen soldiers and civilians, including Koreans, Taiwanese, Americans and Britons. There is also an area with memorials donated by each of Japan's 46 other prefectures.
A few kilometers west of the Peace Park stands the Himeyuri Monument (Himeyuri no To) with an adjacent museum. It commemorates the fate of high school-student girls. They worked in army field hospitals in caves under horrendous conditions. Most of them did not survive the war.
Another thought provoking, war related site is the Former Navy Underground Headquarters, which consists of several hundred meters of underground corridors and rooms that served as the Japanese navy's headquarters during the war. Many sailors committed suicide in these tunnels, after their situation had grown hopeless towards the end of the battle. You can see in one area a room whose walls have been riddled with shrapnel from a grenade.
The Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum is located on a very large site on Mabuni Hill where the Battle of Okinawa came to a bitter end and where the most bloodshed ensued. The Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum Peace Zone has a number of separate memorials including the Okinawa Peace Hall, a large tower erected in 1978 which holds a 12m-high statue dedicated to world peace.
Nearby is a memorial to Korean citizens killed during the conflict. The National War Dead Peace Mausoleum built in 1970 holds the ashes of over 180,000 people. The main Peace Memorial Museum displays photographs and objects relating to the Battle of Okinawa. The Cornerstone of Peace (Flame of Peace) is fed by flames from both Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as a flame from Zamami, where US forces first landed on Okinawa in 1945. The flame is in the center of a circular pond and is where visiting heads of state come to pay their respects to the dead. The Cornerstone of Peace is a semi-circular avenue of stones engraved with the names of all the dead in the Battle of Okinawa regardless of nationality. The Memorial Path includes 32 memorial monuments as well as the place where Lieutenant General Ushima committed suicide.
Ryukyu Oukoku – Okinawa World
Okinawa World is a touristy theme park about Okinawa culture. The main attractions in the park are a massive natural cave, a craft village and a snake museum. With a total length of five kilometers, Gyokusendo Cave is the longest of the many caves in the south of Okinawa Island and the second longest cave in the entire country. 850 meters of the cave are open to the public and feature spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. The inside of the cave is well maintained and the walking paths are comfortable. The Kingdom Village is a nice replica of a traditional Ryukyu village with workshops introducing the various traditional Okinawan crafts, such as weaving, dyeing, paper making, pottery, sugar cone processing, the making of music instruments and the more recently introduced glass blowing. Hands-on experiences are offered at many of the workshops. The Habu Park, named after the infamous, poisonous, local Habu snake, consists of a snake museum, a small, run down zoological garden with some snakes on display and a snake show. Throughout the park, you can have ample of opportunities to purchase local products at numerous souvenir shops. Of course, there is also a restaurant so that you can have meals specialized in Okinawa cuisine.
Maybe one of the most noticeable islands seen from the Okinawa main island is Ie Jima which sits off the coast of the Motobu Peninsula just north of Sesoko Island. Its hallmark feature is a large rock hill that appears to sit dead center on this good size isle. In the modern era, this little mountain is referred to as Mt. Gusuku. However, to many Okinawans of yesteryear, and even today, she is called Mt. Tachu. Ie Jima, like others islands of Okinawa witnessed its moments of wartime dread. But today, she is one of the more touristy islands one can travel to during your time here on Okinawa Prefecture. You can spend one day or just a few days depending on what you are looking for. This article is dedicated on getting to Ie Jima and some of the amenities that are provided to make your stay enjoyable. Future articles will cover in more detail on specific areas, with the stories and history behind each location. The Google map above identifies most areas that have historical significance. Your adventure begins at Motobo Port. To get to Ie Jima, you get on a ferry which is about a 30 minute-ride from Motobu Port. Ie Jima also has a tiny airport, however it is not frequently used, but small commuter planes travel there from time to time. If you fly, there will be more logistical considerations that must be taken into account once you arrive such as your on-island transportation, and all this will have to be coordinated by you the traveler. There are no accommodations at the airport. The following information is from leaving Motobu Port only.
Okinawa sea road connected Henza jima, Hamahiga jima, Miyagi jima as well as Ikei jima. This sea road stretches about 5 kilometers featuring stunning views of the ocean. In the parking lot, you can get out of the car and rest on the beach, and even a large shop that combines an eatery serving Okinawan specialties. The road consists of a causeway with a bridge so vessels may pass. There are two rivers or water lanes for preventing seawater contamination. One area of shoal extended between the Yakena area of the Katsuren Peninsula and Henza Island. At low tide, it was shallow enough for people to walk across on the sea bed. Since 1956, amphibious vehicles, or used trucks of United States origin, drove to and from the island. In 1960, islanders started a campaign for the construction of a road connecting the island and the peninsula. Construction did begin, however a typhoon came and interrupted the progress. In 1970, Gulf Oil started constructing port facilities for petroleum storage and reshipment on Henza Island. Gulf funded the construction of The Mid-Sea road. Construction started in May 1971 and was completed April 22, 1972 as a two-lane road. The completed Mid-Sea Road was presented to the Yonashiro Village free of charge in 1974 and became a village road. In 1991, it was made a prefectural road. In 1999, the road was expanded to 4-lanes.
Busena Marine Park
In Busena Marine Park you can acttually take a walk under the sea with your clothes on! Watch the transparent sea from a pleasure boat and an observatory.
Cape Busena is proud of a high degree of transparency in the west coast of the main island of Okinawa. Busena Marine Park is a marine park located at Cape Busena. You can see appearance under the sea from a pleasure board and an observatory there. "Glass-bottom boat" starts out from the west coast of Cape Busena and it makes a round tour. The boat is spacious and for up to 36 passengers. Its floor is glassed in, and you can closely observe beautiful coral reef in Okinawa and jewel-toned fish living there.
At an underwater observatory that is located on the sea 170 m away from Cape Busena, you can not only see a beautiful emerald green field of sea but also enjoy 360-degree underwater panorama from an observatory floor that extends up to 5m under water. It is appealing that you can see the tropical sea even on the days with bad weather as the observatory accommodates all weather conditions.
Besides clownfish which has become famous owing to a film entitled "Finding Nemo," colorful subtropical and tropical fish, such as blue dameselfish, yellow-brown wrasse, and Moorish idol, live in groups in this area. Many scarce corals also inhabit in the area. Until nature is still left you should see this scenery at least once at present.
Zakimi Castle Ruins
Perched high on a hill-top in present day Yomitan Village, romantic Zakimi Castle offers a commanding 360 degree view of central Okinawa, and a window into Okinawa’s past. Known as Zakimi-jo Gusuku to the natives, it is in ruins but the walls have been restored and the foundation of the castle manor inside is intact. The castle was built by Gosamaru in the 15th century, a local warrior and lord who helped unify Okinawa’s disparate nations into one Ryukyu Kingdom. The castle was designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 2000.
The castle is constructed primarily out of coral and stone. The exterior walls tower up to 10 meters high but look much higher due to the steep grade of the grounds it is built upon. A stone archway with coral steps on the south allows access into a lower court, which appears to be an add-on or afterthought as its walls are an outcrop from the walls of the upper court. The large grassy area inside the archway slopes upward and northerly to more steps and a second archway along the interior walls that is the entrance to the upper court.
The Blue Cave
The Blue Cave is located near Cape Maeda in Onna Village. It is a natural cave rising up from the ocean that we can enter. The cave acquired its name from the blue tone created inside and is a popular sightseeing spot for visitors to Okinawa. Lights reflected from the deep blue sea create a fantastic world in the Blue Cave. We recommend the dome close to the entrance to the Blue Cave, where you can see the deep blue waters spreading out below you. The length of the Blue Cave is about 60 meters. The distance is about 10 meters from the surface of the water to the ceiling of the Blue Cave.
The depth of the water in the Blue Cave is about 5 meters. Where does the Blue Cave’s color come from?
blue_cave_datail2The sun’s rays enter the sea and reflect off the white limestone bottom, bouncing back up into the cave. This makes it appear as if the bottom of the cave is creating a blue light. As you enter the cave, it will initially become darker, and then you’ll have the excitement of the blue light appearing below you as your eyes adjust.
Nago Pineapple Park
Nago Pineapple Park is a theme-park dedicated to pineapples and other tropical fruits in Nago on the main island of Okinawa. Pineapples were first commercially grown on Okinawa on Ishigaki Island from the 1930's. Recently cheaper imports have meant pineapple cultivation has decreased drastically from over 100,000 tons in 1969 to only 6,000 tons in 2012, so Nago Pineapple Park is a worthy PR project for all things Okinawan pineapple. The tour of the small park begins from the car park on the trolley bus (pictured above) and a short tour of some pineapple fields with an explanation (in Japanese) on the history of the fruit, which spread to Asia from the Americas after Europeans arrived in the New World in the late 15th century. The trolley bus drops visitors off at the main entrance to pay and choose either walking in the tropical garden with its banana, papaya and other tropical plants or driving in a pineapple shaped golf cart. There's also an interesting collection of sea shells housed in a small museum. The rest of the park is dedicated to selling pineapple products and pineapple souvenirs in all their various forms in a shop area. There are lots of free samples on offer of fresh pineapple, dried pineapple, pineapple juice, pineapple cakes, even pineapple wine. The Palm Tree restaurant in the park serves a variety of Okinawan food including taco rice, ginger agu pork and goya champuru. Pineapple parfait is for dessert! Nago Pineapple Park is located in the Motobu Peninsula near Nago town close to the Orion Happy Park and Nago Museum. It is around 35-40 minutes to both Churaumi Aquarium and Nakijin Castle by car from Nago Pineapple Park. The Neo Park Okinawa bird and animal zoo is about 10 minutes by car.
There are just bridges, but the view from above the tunnel can’t be replaced with anything else.
Ahead of highway 331 is the breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean with Kudaka jima and Komaka jima islands. There are actually two bridges connected which are referred to Nirai bridge and Kanai bridge. Be prepared to be dazzled by the beautiful ocean views stretched right after you go through the tunnel.
Situated off the Motobu Peninsula, Minna Island is affectionately known as “Croissant Island” due to its unusual crescent shape. The water of Minna Island is known for its clarity, and its beautiful beaches are pure white sand, with scenery reminiscent of the Caribbean. Reefs are located offshore, allowing the whole family to safely enjoy sea bathing and snorkeling. During the peak summer period, ferries to Minna Island operate at increased frequency, and the island is crowded with both day-trippers and overnight visitors. The concession stand on Minna Beach is open during the summer months only, and there are no grocery stores or places to eat, although vending machines selling beverages can be found on the island. You are strongly recommended to purchase food and drink before getting aboard the ferry for Minna Island, unless you are going to stay at a lodge that provides meals. Minna Island is only four kilometers in circumference, and you can easily walk around it on foot.
It takes about 15 minutes from Toguchi Port in Motobu Town by Ferry.
Kabira Bay may be the most photographed sightseeing spot in Ishigaki Island. Positioned on the north west coast of the island, thousands of tourist are attracted by Kabira every year, all of whom are keen to see if the waters are truly as turquoise as guide books and advertisements promise. People are rarely disappointed and you'll often hear exclamations of 'sugoi' (amazing) and 'kirei' (beautiful) from Japanese tourists who are enjoying the view from the observation point. It is situated just above the bay. The view is truly impressive, and not one which you're likely to tire of quickly. It's not just the bay and there are interesting things like casting your eye further afield you'll be able to see Mt. Omoto clearly in the distance along with the Hirakubo peninsula which extends to the north on the other side of Ishigaki island (look closely and you may even be able to make out Mt. Nosoko's distinctive peak). Swimming is prohibited due to a number of reasons such as strong currents, jelly fish and the presence of boats which routinely ferry passengers up and down the bay, swimming is prohibited even though the beatiful and clear sea water. In addition, glass-bottomed boat is available for you if you fancy viewing the wonders of the ocean without getting wet. Tours on glass-bottomed boats which reveal the beauty of the ocean's coral reefs below are extremely popular. These businesses can seem like a license to print money, but at the same time the trips are reasonably priced at around ¥1000 Yen, and tourists always seem to exit the boats with smiling faces when they return. The town of Kabira is small but visitors will find that most necessities are available. There is a large car parking lot and various shops, restaurants and tour operators can be found in its immediate vicinity. There is a JP Bank ATM located in the town center, although it isn't available all weekend.
Ishigaki jima Island
Ishigaki Island is the main island of the Yaeyama Islands. Also it is region's transportation hub and Japan's southernmost city which is the only urban center of the Yaeyama Islands and the site of the region's major airport and ferry terminal, as well as of lots of hotels, shops, restaurants and bars. Ishigaki offers several nice beaches and good snorkeling and diving in the surrounding coral reefs. Snorkeling can be enjoyed at nearly every beach on the island, while diving is offered through the numerous dive shops with tours available for all experience levels. If diving, be sure to check out the island's famed manta rays which congregate in large numbers around Manta Scramble near Kabira Bay. Ishigaki's rivers, while not quite as wild as those of nearby Iriomote, also offer a jungle like scenery and are nice to explore by kayak. Ishigaki also has the highest mountain in Okinawa Prefecture, as well as various hiking trails throughout the island's hilly interior.
Ishigaki Yaima Village
Ishigaki Yaima Village is a theme park where you can experience the Yaeyama culture and nature. On Oct. 1st 2008, the name changed to "Ishigaki Yaima Village" from Yaeyama minzoku garden. The village is an authentic replica of a Yeayama Island style village as it would have been before modern influences, complete with live animals roaming about. Ishigaki Yaima Village is located on top of the hill where you can overview the Nagura gulf. As the wild nature in background a reproduction theme park of Yaeyama row of houses. The red tile houses were built for more than 80 years as they were transferred from the city. You can experience Sanshin music, Ryukyu rational construe, Shisa coloring and others. There are water cattle's, horse, and squirrel park too and you can enjoy feeding of cute squirrels. Nagura Anbaru sightseeing course which can observe the rare plants were designated as Ramsar Convention in Nov, 2005. After walking in the garden you can find a local dish at Anbaru store and shopping at stands at this Okinawan historical site. There are many activities to partake in for the whole family. Also you can see the love performances such as Eisa, bon dancing (bon odori), and lion dances which take place daily. Besides the performances visitors to Ishigaki Yaima Village can take a walk in the forest to interact with some local monkeys, food can be purchased to hand feed the creatures adding to this unique experience.
The village is on the way to Kabira bay, so keep eyes open for signs while driving, or stop and ask a friendly Ishigaki local people for directions.
Ishigakijima limestone caves
The most southern in Japan, Ishigakijima limestone caves stand the 2nd largest stalactite limestone cave of Okinawa. Unfortunately, it’s not well-known that there is a very beautiful limestone cave in Ishigakijima. But it’s not very far from the center of the island, we recommend you to visit there especially when the weather is not so good. Total of 3,200m, the observation part is 660m long. The path in the cave is made from concrete, the fluorescent lamp and guide speaker allows children from elderly a safe cave exploration. You can find many fossils of corals and shells from the beautiful natural limestone cave that rose from under water coral reef. Visitors get a chance to see what the Ryukyu Islands are made of in the caves of amazing natural phenomenon. As shown above, a 600 meter long trail has been well laid out with steps, hand rails, and lighting into these caves. Would be explores travel into an underground world where the coral that not only surrounds Okinawa’s Islands but is also part of the islands can be seen. These limestone caves took over one million years to be made and besides coral they are also composed of sea eggs, univalve shell, polyzoan, foraminifera, bivalve, and lime alga. Similar limestone caves can be found in many different parts of Okinawa but the twists, turns, and low ceilings of the trail that winds through the caves on Ishigakijima let you have a fun adventure. After a busy day of spelunking visitors can take a rest at the restaurant or buy some gifts at the souvenir shop near the entrance of the caves. Besides there is one more limestone cave called Yaeyama Limestone Cave near this Ishigaki-jima Limestone Cave. Yaeyama Limestone Cave is has a limestone cave and a small zoo where you can see water cows and horses and experience feeding squirrels.
Nagominoto Tower of Ishigakijima
The 4.5 meter tall Nagominoto Tower sits roughly in the center of the village. From the tower you have a view over most of the island. Combined with the hill on which it stands, the tower is about 10 meters above the surrounding houses. Its steps are rather steep and narrow and no more than two people should be on the platform at a time. Below the tower is a grassy area. There are a few shops and restaurants nearby.
Taketomi Island is an island just off the coast of Ishigaki Island and the site of a beautifully preserved, traditional Ryukyu village. As Taketomi Island is fairly small, it is often visited as a day trip from Ishigaki. Thanks to preservation efforts, the small village consists almost entirely of traditional style, one-storied houses, which are surrounded by stone walls, and covered with red tiled roofs and ample lion-like shiza statues to ward of evil spirits. Some of the village's houses serve as minshuku accommodations. Other traditional homes inside the village are used as restaurants and shops selling local food and crafts. There are no rental cars on Taketomi, and most visitors either walk or rent a bicycle to travel through the village's white sand roads and to the nearby beaches along the western shore of the island.
Water Buffalo Cart Rides in Taketomi Island :
Two companies provide you water buffalo drawn cart tours of Taketomi Village. The 30 minute tours travel around the preserved, traditional streets of the village while a Japanese speaking guide talks about the island, sings songs and plays Okinawan music on their sanshin (Okinawan stringed instrument). It is impressive that the guides rarely offer guidance to the water buffalo who know their routes by heart.
Beaches of Taketomi Island
Taketomi Island has both sandy beaches and rocky beaches. You can enjoy swimming and snorkeling there but the beaches do not have any public facilities except for Kondoi Beach.
When using the beaches always beware of strong currents that can pull you out to sea. There are poisonous creatures such as Habu Jellyfish, a type of box jellyfish that are most prevalent from June to October. Signs in English inform about the dangers are available while some beaches have netted off swimming areas. Although stings are rare, if stung you should pour vinegar over the sting, remove any tentacles, and seek medical help as it may become life threatening.
The second largest island of Okinawa is Iriomote Island. Largely undeveloped, nearly 90 percent of the island is covered by dense jungle and mangrove forests, much of which makes up the Iriomote National Park, the southernmost of Japan's national parks.
The island's attractions are based around tours to Iriomote's abundant nature including sea and river kayaking, fishing and sailing. You can also enjoy other activities either on tours or individually such as beaches, snorkeling and various hiking trails, the most challenging of which is a 20 kilometer path through the interior of the island which should only be tackled by experienced and well prepared hikers.
A mangrove lined river of Iriyamate Island:
Iriomote is also a popular scuba diving destination especially at Manta Way, the strait between Iriomote and nearby Kohama Island. You can watch schools of manta rays congregate in spring and summer there. Diving tours are available for all skill levels of divers. The island is also home to the Iriomote Yamaneko, which is a type of wildcat, was discovered in 1965, and is only found on Iriomote Island. The chances of encountering an Iriomote Yamaneko are very low as the nocturnal, house cat sized animal is an endangered species that is thought to number less than 100 individuals. Most of the island's interior is covered in dense jungle accessible by a number of rivers that head inland from the sea. You can enjpy jungle boat cruises which are organized on the island's two longest rivers, the Urauchigawa (Urauchi River) and Nakamagawa (Nakama River). Guided kayak tours operate on both of those as well as many of the smaller rivers around the island.
Urauchi River Cruise
Urauchi River is the largest river on Iriomote and is found near Uehara Port on the north western side of the island. The hour long cruises travel along the Urauchi River to a trailhead from where it is a 45 minute walk through the jungle to two beautiful waterfalls. Guides only speak Japanese, although an English pamphlet is provided.
Nakama River Cruise
The Nakama River Cruises start in the south of the island in Ohara and travel inland to a large mangrove tree where you can get off and walk around for a few minutes before catching a return boat. The hour long cruise has Japanese speaking guides who describe the river and mangrove trees along the way.
Kayak River Tours
Kayak tours are offered on the mangrove lined Urauchi and Nakama Rivers as well as many of the smaller rivers around the island. Each river has one or two companies operating on it, with 2-hour guided tours starting at about 4000 yen per person (reservations should be made in advance). Unguided kayak rentals are also available on Urauchi and Nakama Rivers as well as a few of the smaller rivers.
Beaches of Iriyamate Island:
Iriomote has its share of beautiful beaches which offer swimming, snorkeling and diving opportunities. There are not any public facilities at most of the beaches around Iriomote. Some of them can only be reached by boat as the island's coast is only partially accessible by car.
When using the beaches always you need to beware of strong currents that can pull you out to sea and poisonous creatures such as Habu Jellyfish, a type of box jellyfish that are most prevalent from June to October. Signs in English inform about the dangers while some beaches have netted off swimming areas. Although stings are rare, if stung you should pour vinegar over the sting, remove any tentacles, and seek medical help as it may become life threatening.
Also Hoshizuna no Hama in Iriomote is famous. Hoshizuna no Hama means star sand beach, and is so named because the grains of sand found here are shaped like tiny stars. However, the sand is actually the skeletons of small one-celled organisms that live among the sea grass. This beach offers great snorkeling and swimming, but is rather shallow during low tide. There are no public facilities at the beach but you can find the parking lot.
Other Attractions you can enjoy in Iriomote Island:
Yubujima Suigyu Cart Ride
Yubujima is a small island separated from Iriomote by a shallow, sandy strait. Water buffalo take carts filled with visitors to the island where there are restaurants, souvenir shops and a botanical garden. The cart rides are interesting, if not touristy, and you may meet cart drivers who describe the island's history and play the sanshin (Okinawan stringed instrument).
Many frequent visitors called this island “Paradise”, and that’s the island located at the southernmost part of Japan, Haterumajima Island. To go to Haterumajima Island, you need to first take a 1 hour plane ride to Ishigakijima Island from Naha Airport, and then another 1 hour with the fast ferry. Access to the island is not convenient, and the circumference of the island is only 15 kilometers. A very small island, but you will understand why it’s called the “Paradise” once you get off the ferry at the port. The first place you need to stop by is the “Nishi Beach” located at the northwestern part of the island. Very close from the port, the white sandy beach is about 1 kilometer long. Words cannot express the scene of the shallow beach off the shore that shines in emerald green. There are many beautiful beaches in Okinawa, but this beach may be one of the top beautiful beaches. The name Hateruma comes from 2 words: “Ha-te” which means extremity and “Uruma” which means Ryukyu. But the name of this island holds another meaning, which is “the island closest to the sky”. The population of the island is about 500 people. There is very little artificial light from the ground, and the island does not get affected by the jet stream. Astronomy maniacs called this island “the island where stars are seen well”. The astronomical observatory located at the southernmost tip of the island is a popular spot as an observation tower. You might be able to see and experience a fascinating starry sky you’ve never seen in your life before.
Miyakojima Island located 300 kilometers south of Okinawa Main Island and 100 kilometers north of the Yaeyama Islands, is known for some of Japan's best beaches and as a great destination for snorkeling and diving in the coral reefs. The sub tropical climate provides mild weather year around. Miyako is the fourth largest island in Okinawa Prefecture. It lacks any major hills or mountains and is mostly covered by sugar cane fields and a few towns, among which Hirara is the largest with a moderate range of restaurants and bars. Resort hotels and pensions are found across the island. Unlike other parts of Okinawa, Miyako is free of habu snakes.
Yonaguni island is the westernmost Okinawan island, the last place in Japan to see the setting sun each day. It is the most remote of all the Okinawan islands, and the hardest to get to, but if you are serious about your diving, it is worth the effort it takes to get there. Getting to Yonaguni Island is not as smooth and simple as it is between most of the inhabited Okinawan Islands. There are one or two flights a day from Ishigaki Island, and three flights a week from Naha. There is also a ferry that runs two trips a week, with return journeys on different days, but it takes four hours and it can be a rough journey.The undersea ruins are hidden off the southern coast. As one of the things attract travellers, Hammerhead sharks and whale sharks can be spotted in the winter! In the winter months, hammerhead sharks congregate around the island, and if you go between December and February, you will almost certainly get a chance to see them. Although it is a rare sight, Yonaguni is also the only place in Japanese waters where you might see a whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean.
You need to be an experienced diver to appreciate all that Yonaguni Island has to offer. The island has great hiking trails and some fine beaches, but these are closer at hand elsewhere in Okinawa. Also one thing you won't see elsewhere is the Yonaguni horse, just one meter tall and roaming free on the island. There are also some mysterious underwater ruins off the southern coast, sometimes known as the Yoniguni Monument. Some say the ruins were naturally formed, others that they ware man-made. Get up close and decide for yourself.
Kohama island, which lies just 25 minutes from Ishigaki by ferry is another ideal day trip destination for island-hoppers. In terms of size Kohama isn't much bigger than Taketomijima, but in many ways the two islands have very different qualities. Kohama may not have a quaint village and its beaches aren't quite as impressive, but what it does have to offer are some of the finest views to be found in the Yaeyama archipelago, and for that reason alone it is worth a visit. While Taketomi is flat and sits barely above sea level, Kohama has a rolling terrain, the result of which is two of the finest vantage points to be found in the Yaeyama archipelago. For example, Ufudake is the highest point on Kohama island and the only spot from where the entire island can be viewed. On leaving the ferry terminal turn left and head out along the main road. Take the first road on your left and proceed for a couple of hundred meters. You'll eventually see a bar on the left hand side of the road which resembles little more than a large shack. The entrance to the beach is found behind an open area which is complete with a picnic area and WC facilities. Note that the bar doesn't open until late in the afternoon, well after most day-trippers have begun making their way back to Ishigaki.
Kouri Island is located in the ocean north of Motobu Peninsula and is connected by Kouri Bridge. The Okinawan legend of Adam and Eve remains on this island dotted with many beautiful beaches,which is also known as “Love Island”. Also do you know what kind of place the “Kouri Island” is? In fact, Kouri Island is famous for the most beautiful seas in Okinawa.
Kouri Island is located north of Yagaji Island in the northern part of Okinawa’s main island.
It is an inhabited island that belongs to Nakijin Island. It is a small, with an area of 3.13 km² (= 313 ha), and a circumference of about 8 km (≒ 4.97 mi), which you can get around in about 10 minutes by car. The best season is difficult to define for tourism at Kouri Island.This is because you can see its beautiful ocean anytime you visit. There is often a strong wind blowing from the sea, so the temperature is cooler compared to the main island. In Okinawa, April and May (Spring to the rainy season) is referred to as ‘Urizun.’ Temperatures begin to rise, flowers begin to bloom, and it’s the most comfortable time of the year. Typhoon season is from July to September. Some typhoons hit out of this season, so please be careful if you go in summer. Also, if you go to Kouri Island in the wintertime, take a jacket because it is chilly. Although the average temperature from April to October is 20° C or higher, it is often below that during November to March. If you go to Kouri Island between November and March, please take a jacket.
Sea Festival Hari(Hare)
Every year on May 4 of the lunar calendar (around late May to June) a ‘Hari’ takes place in fishing ports throughout Okinawa. This is an event where fishermen compete in boat races using traditional Okinawan boats, such as the big dragon boats and the smaller ‘Sabini’. The Hari is a festival that prays for the safety of the fishermen and bountiful harvests, and although there are various opinions as to its origin, it is said that the festival originated in Tomigusuku in the south of Okinawa’s main island after being introduced from China roughly 600 years ago. In recent years, some areas have become increasingly popular and the Naha Hari in Naha city is Okinawa’s most famous tourism event, welcoming many tourists every year. Meanwhile, a traditional Hari which remains sacred to this day can be witnessed at the Itoman Hare in Itoman city, a place which has been known as a fisherman’s town since long ago.
“In Okinawa, you can hear sounds of taiko being practiced somewhere every night when it comes close to Bon Festival each year. *Taiko is a traditional Japanese drum.” That’s right. It’s the sound of eisa practice. Eisa is a type of traditional performing arts of Okinawa. You can see it in summer festivals and special events. The origin of this performing art is said to have originated as a way to send off the ancestral spirits, who descended for the Bon Festival from July 13 to 15 on the lunar calendar, to return to the spiritual world by beating the taiko loudly. The heroic choreography of the dance, the sound of drums (paranku) with elation, and the nostalgic sound of three-stringed instrument (sanshin) will capture the hearts of the crowds unconditionally. Currently, it not only plays a role as a cultural feature that attracts people from around and outside Okinawa, but it also creates a great opportunity for locals of all ages to come together. Between June to August is the season for Eisa Night. Eisa events are held every week at various places around Okinawa City during this season, drawing crowds at each venue. Many youth groups and children perform Eisa at the events.The All-Okinawa Eisa Festival is held on the first weekend after the lunar-calendar Bon Festival every year in Okinawa City. It is one of the largest festivals in Okinawa. Youth groups selected from all over the prefecture gather together to perform eisa. Local youth groups rehearse over and over from early summer and share the spirit of the island regardless of age on the day of the festival. The festival admission is free, but admission to the main event is charged. Orion Beer Fest is also held nearby, so you can enjoy Okinawa’s hottest night while drinking the local Orion beer.
What to eat in Okinawa
Champuru means "stir fry" in the Okinawan language and refers to a dish which was prepared by stir frying various ingredients. By far the most popular champuru variety is goya champuru, in which the bitter goya vegetable is stir fried with tofu, eggs and pork or spam. Other variations of champuru include fu (wheat gluten) champuru, tofu champuru and papaya champuru.
Although they share the name with soba noodle dishes found on the Japanese mainland, Okinawa Soba are a completely different dish. They are made of wheat rather than buckwheat flour, and therefore resemble udon noodles more than soba noodles. Similar to ramen noodles, Okinawa Soba are served in a bowl of broth with a number of toppings. A common topping is soft boiled pork, in which case the dish is called Soki Soba, but there are other varieties. The dish generally also includes green onions, kamaboko (fish cake) and red ginger.
A result of the American presence in Okinawa, taco rice is a unique dish that is popular as an inexpensive, filling meal. The meal's exact origins are uncertain, but it appeared in Okinawa sometime after the end of the war. A bowl of taco rice consists of typical taco ingredients, such as ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa, served over rice. Other taco ingredients like cheese or onions can also be included. The meal is typically eaten with a spoon rather than with chopsticks.
Like on the mainland, there are many izakaya style restaurants in Okinawa where diners share a number of small dishes instead of eating one main meal each. Among the most famous dishes are:
Rafute is a pork dish featuring thick cuts of meat from the pig's belly that have been boiled to become very soft. It was originally part of the cuisine of the Ryukyu royal court, but has since become a common dish. An order of rafute typically comes with one to three pieces of meat, but each piece is quite thick. The meat is cooked in soya sauce and fish broth, and sometimes awamori as well. The pieces of rafute are sometimes served with a bit of mustard as seasoning. The taste of the meat is usually very rich and savory.
Another pork dish, Mimiga consists of thinly cut pig's ear that is boiled or steamed. It comes with a crunchy texture and is usually seasoned with a ponzu sauce, salt or a peanut dressing.
Umibudo literally means "sea grapes" in Japanese, and this type of seaweed does indeed resemble grapes on a miniature scale. Each little umibudo ball has a soft skin that releases a salty liquid when bitten. Umibudo is usually served with little preparation, with only a bit of vinegar or soya sauce.
Another derivative of the versatile soya bean, tofuyo is the result of fermenting and aging regular tofu. It is a powerful and pungent dish that is served in very small portions and commonly eaten with toothpicks. Tofuyo is often compared to strong cheese because of its similar texture and taste. The tofu is soaked in malted rice and awamori during the fermentation process, which takes a few months to complete. A red yeast is added in the process that gives the tofuyo its distinctive color. A glass of awamori is said to complement the taste of tofuyo nicely.
Yagi sashimi is raw goat meat, one of Okinawa's more challenging dishes. The slices of raw goat meat are presented and eaten in a similar fashion as regular seafood sashimi. The meat has a rather strong goaty flavor and is somewhat chewy.
Orion Beer is by far the most popular beer in Okinawa, but outside the islands it is quite uncommon. It has a light taste similar to Asahi Superdry, and is quite refreshing, making it a good drink for the beach in hot weather. It is widely available across the prefecture canned, bottled and as draft beer.
Awamori is a distilled spirit unique to Okinawa with an alcohol content usually between 30-40 percent. It is similar to but differs from shochu in that it is made from long-grained thai-style rice and uses a black koji mold indigenous to Okinawa. Awamori and Awamori based cocktails are widely available across Okinawa.
Sanpin-cha is the Okinawan name for Jasmine tea, and is widely popular across Okinawa. The tea is available at supermarkets, convenience stores, vending machines and at restaurants and is drunk hot or cold. Sanpin-cha was originally introduced from China and is generally flavored milder than its Chinese counterpart.