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Japan Travel Guide

Explore Japan: Okinawa

Stretched over 1000 km from the southern tip of Kyushu to 100 km east of Taiwan, the Ryukyu Islands, more usually called as Okinawa, is Japan's top beach & resort destination.
The major island is also known as Okinawa, as the prefecture. Its capital, Naha (population of 300,000) is the central hub for tourists on their way to smaller islands or visiting the attractions around. The capital of the Ryukyu kings was established in Shuri from the 15th century to 1879. Shuri is now implicit in the city of Naha. All of Shuri was devastated in the WWII bombings, besides the temples, shrines tombs, castle and other historical buildings, although most of Shuri castle has been rebuilt. Shuri-jo Castle, reconstructed in 1993, has become one of Japan's best known scenary since its Shureimon was chosen to appear on the new 2000 yen banknotes (released in 2000).

Okinawa also has one of the best aquariums in all Japan. The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, at Motobu (north of the island), is the largest in Asia and the major attraction are its manta rays and three whale sharks.

US Troops are stationed in Okinawa City (population of 125,000) in the middle of Okinawa Island. The town itself has all it needs to feel more like America than Japan (or more like a fusion of both).

Okinawa has hundreds of white sandy beach islands with crystal blue waters, colorful coral and fishes. Several islands possess jungle and mangrove forest as well. The most famous between the large islands include Ishigaki-jima Island, Iriomote-jima Island and Miyako-jima Island.

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