There is a place between Taiwan and Japan where speckles of land skip across the surface of the ocean. Forty nine of these small islands are inhabited and one hundred and eleven belong to the tropical wild. These are the Okinawa Islands. Where the lands are flooded with lush overgrown jungle, the sands are white as snow, and the waters are clearer than a glass of cool water. The islands are rich in history with fascinating legends of the Ryukya culture. Once its own temperate kingdom Okinawa now belongs to Japan and divides the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The stretch of tropical islands wind across the open blue, perched precariously on the steadily moving waters of the easterly sea. Just as they appear from above, the name Okinawa translates to “rope in the open sea”.
WHAT TO DO
Be sure to indulge in at least one traditional Okinawan dish, the local cuisine is famous for its part in good health. The locals have the longest life expectancy in the world, their mantra is “nuchi gusui”, meaning, food is medicine. There are plenty of spots to go snorkeling or diving and experience the exotic marine life and impressive coral reef. While the sea will lure and tempt you at every moment, don’t neglect the magnifice t land. Explore a mangrove jungle by canoe, or hike through the mountains. Iriomote Island, called ‘the last unexplored region of Japan’, and Onna Village are magical places to see rare animals and plants. There is also an abundance to be learned about the culture and history – stroll through the historical sites and interact with the locals.
By: Elizabeth Dean NICHE Magazine Fall 2013