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Places to visit in Okinawa

Kokusai DoriKokusai Dori

Running from the Okinawa Prefecture Office through downtown Naha is the "Kokusai Dori" or "International Street". It's a 1.6 km strip of road lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, department stores and hotels. Once known as the "Miracle Mile" for its rapid reconstruction after World War II, it is now the biggest tourist spot in Naha. Many people who have a small town image of Okinawa may be surprised at its bustling atmosphere.

Okinawa Churaumi AquariumOkinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Churaumi Aquarium is one of the largest in the world and is famous for world firsts or biggests: the world's biggest acrylic windowed viewing tank (22.5 meters wide!) and home of the first and only known captive births of manta rays, large scale coral exhibits, a whale shark breeding tank, and more. The aquarium also has dolphin shows, guided tours and daily lectures. Those interested in cutting-edge aquariums and marine research, as well as the casual visitor will definitely not be disappointed.

Yubu IslandYubu Island

Yubu Island is a tiny island (with a circumference of about 2 km) made of sand located next to Iriomote Island. It is a beautiful botanical garden with simple sand roads and hundreds of varieties of flowers, trees and plants. At present, there is only one family living on the island. Open to visitors from 9:15 to 16:15, Yubu Island is so close to Iriomote that at low tide, tourists ride special carts pulled by water buffalo across the shore. Be aware that the cart ride is expensive (around \1300 yen per person). You can also walk across for \500. Lunch is available at a restaurant on the island.

Ishigaki IslandIshigaki Island

Ishigaki Island is the third largest island in Okinawa, and home to most of the Yaeyama (8 islands) Island GroupÕs population. The city of Ishigaki has both modern and south-island style areas with a developed city center including convenience stores, hotels, supermarkets and more. Ishigaki Island still retains the Ryukyu feel and style with many red-tiled roofs and small shops and stands selling local fruits, vegetables and seafood. Ishigaki is one of the most popular diving spots, as well as kite-surfing and other marine sports.

Regional Dishes and Famous Foods


You can find this finger-sized biscuit at any souvenir shop in Okinawa. It has been made there for over 400 years and is quite well known around the country. The ingredients are simple: flour, sugar and lard. The biscuit has a light flavor and a sandy texture, a little different from western style biscuits.

Goya or Bitter MelonGoya or Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon is eaten in many countries across Asia, but in Japan it is famous as an Okinawan food. Just as the name suggests, it is quite bitter and is most often made into "goya champuru", a stir-fried dish with goya, eggs, moyashi and other ingredients, sometimes including SPAM! Champuru means "something mixed" in Okinawan, so there are many kinds of chanpuru, such as tofu champuru or somen champuru or others. This dish itself is an amalgam of different cultures and has a home-cooked taste to it that matches the Okinawan style perfectly.

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