Welcome to Okinawa! Or as they say in Okinawan dialect, mensoore (めんそーれ)!
Okinawa Prefecture is the southernmost and westernmost of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Although it looks tiny on a map, Okinawa has a surprisingly large population (about 1.4 million people), and there are very few things that you can get on mainland Japan that you can’t obtain in Okinawa! In fact, Okinawa is probably more urban than most people expect, but of course there are still plenty of rural areas. Consisting of a chain of over 160 islands that stretch between mainland Japan and Taiwan, Okinawa is geographically and culturally unique from the rest of the country.
Okinawa is famous for is its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and distinct traditional culture. Its most famous cultural export is probably karate (you know, Mr. Miyagi?), but there are so many traditions that are solely unique to Okinawa. Some big traditions you’re bound to come across include: a powerful drum-dance called eisa, music played on the Okinawan banjo called sanshin (ancestor of the Japanese shamisen), vibrant stencil-dyed fabric known as bingata, a stir-fry dish made with a bitter but delicious Okinawan vegetable called goya champurū, and so much more. If you want to experience some of these for yourself, there are plenty of opportunities when you get here. Are you excited yet? You should be!
To learn more about Okinawa, check out the categories below:
History and Politics
Cultural Diversity in Okinawa
U.S. Military in Okinawa
Places to Visit