Okinawa’s relaxed capital, Naha, is the main point of arrival. Most of the city dates from the post-war period – it was levelled during the American offensive in April 1945 – but extensive reconstruction work in the former Ryukyu capital of Shuri, now a part of Naha city, gives a good sense of the old kingdom’s cultural sophistication.

A scattering of shrines, royal tombs, stone-paved roads and red-roofed houses with coral walls cluster below the replica castle, whose focal point is the ornate state hall. Look out for local crafts shops selling hand-loomed textiles, woven from banana fibre.


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