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The Best of Okinawa

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If you’re looking for a tropical vacation complete with white-sand beaches and coral reefs, look no further than Okinawa. The Okinawan islands are the southernmost region of Japan. Originally part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, an independent principality in power from the 15th to the 19th century, the islands have maintained a culture unique from the rest of Japan.
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Hateruma, Taketomi, Yaeyama District, Okinawa Prefecture 907-1751, Japan
This pristine white-sand beach is one of Okinawa’s finest. Snorkeling here is a must as the coral reef is fairly close to shore and has an abundance of colorful, diverse marine life. The area is peaceful and not too crowded.
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Japan, 〒905-0206 Okinawa Prefecture, Kunigami District, Motobu, Ishikawa, 424番地

Situated on the Motobu Peninsula in northern Okinawa, this large and well-known park was built in 1976 to commemorate the Okinawa International Ocean Expo. Nowadays the sprawling complex offers the country’s finest aquarium, a nice stretch...

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1 Chome-2 Shurikinjocho, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 903-0815, Japan

Originally erected in the late 14th century, Shuri Castle served as the residence of the Ryukyu kings right up until 1879. Destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries—most recently in 1992—it is now a designated UNESCO World...

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1 Chome-25-11 Wakasa, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 900-0031, Japan

The main Shinto shrine in Naha, Naminoue Shrine (the name means "above the waves") enjoys a picturesque location overlooking the sea and Naminoue Beach. Originally constructed for the Ryukyuan religion, the shrine was dedicated to Nirai Kanai, the...

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2 Chome-13 Shuritōnokurachō, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 903-0812, Japan

This lovely restaurant can be found on the grounds of Shuri Castle in a picturesque old house, accessed via a stone gate and a walkway lined with palm trees and orchids. The interior has traditional tatami flooring with low tables, but in sunny...

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2 Chome-10-1 Matsuo, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 900-0014, Japan

This compact and slightly hard-to-find traditional restaurant is worth the effort it takes to track it down. Hidden inside Makishi Public Market, and with only a couple of tables (plus some seats at the counter), it’s renowned for its...

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2 Chome-4-35 Mekaru, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 900-0004, Japan
Awamori—liquor fermented from long-grain Thai rice rather than the short-grain rice used in Japanese shochu—is the firewater of Okinawa. Salon de Awamori, a bar perched on a sleek wooden rooftop, features hundreds of bottles, including Sennen no...
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1 Chome-22-35 Tsuboya, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 902-0065, Japan

You can find this charming teahouse along a small lane close to the Tsuboya pottery district. Named after the traditional Okinawan tea (buku buku cha)—a jasmine tea topped with rice foam and crushed peanuts—the venue has a soothing,...

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3 Chome-2-10 Makishi, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0013, Japan

Kokusai Dori (International Street) is one of the buzziest areas to explore in the city. Some 1.6 kilometers (one mile) long, it’s lined with myriad retail and commercial outlets, from cafés and restaurants to bars, shops and offices....

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1 Chome-21-14 Tsuboya, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 902-0065, Japan

This small street has been the hub of local ceramic production since the 17th century. Today it is lined with charming shops making and selling all kinds of traditional pottery, from decorative and practical objects for the home to...