"Okinawa" Okinawa by etfromnc
Okinawa Travel Guide: 386 reviews and 963 photos
Okinawa is a city, an island, and a prefecture of Japan. The prefecture consists of 161 islands but the only one that I have visited is the big island of Okinawa so most of my comments relate to that specific island unless otherwise indicated. The prefecture of Okinawa is the southern most prefecture of Japan and once was a thriving and independent kingdom, the Kingdom of the Ryukyus. It is rich in culture and history and the culture differs significantly from the more northern parts of Japan.
I have only been to a very few of the Japanese islands, and of course you are never very far from the ocean anywhere in Japan but Okinawa seemed to me to be more definitely oriented toward the sea and the sun than the larger and more commercially prosperous ones. Perhaps this might be related to the fact that Okinawa is at about the same latitude as Hawaii, Florida, and the Bahamas but the beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the enchanting emerald seas create an awesome sense of tranquility and peace.
Okinawa was the site of intense warfare and brutality during World War II and was then governed by the U.S. from the end of the war until 1972. The Japanese government says that Okinawa is the second poorest prefecture in Japan although much progress has been made in recent years and the people whom I have encountered there did not seem to have anything to rival the favelas of South America and other "cardboard cities" around the world. US military installations cover over 10% of the land and the US Department of Defense is Okinawa's largest employer. There are currently just over 40,000 US military troops and 150,000 total English speakers on Okinawa.
The weather is subtropical with rain likely on nearly half of all days but they are often those refreshing rains which come and are gone almost as quickly as they came. The weather is nice year-round but I would try to schedule around late summer and fall as the Ryukyus are susceptible to frequent monsoons during that part of the year.
Although I have never lived on Okinawa, I have many friends who have and they love it. The climate is temperate, with a year-round average temperature in the low 70s Fahrenheit (acout 22.5 Celsius). The island is clean and in spite of some widely publicized incidents to the contrary has a very low crime rate. My friends describe the Okinawan people as being good, moral, respectful, organized, and healthy people, and I found that to be the case during my visits. They seem to be more interested in a calm, peaceful life than other areas of Japan and that may contribute to the fact that they have one of the longest average lifespans in the world.
They are more an "honor-based" society than "sin-and-shame-based" although, as seems to be common anywhere large masses of military live (whether American or otherwise), there is abundant evidence that morals can be corrupted when large crowds of unsupervised immature people are thrown together.
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