Straggling for over 600 miles (1000km) from Kyushu to within a stone’s throw of Taiwan, the sun-drenched Okinawan Islands are Japan’s subtropical flipside. The archipelago’s climate is blissful; its beaches white and powder soft; its seawater translucent; and people famously laid-back, hip and quirky. Leave the salary-man suit in Tokyo; the national dress here is the Hawaiian-style ‘Kariyushi’ shirt.

The 159 coral-fringed islands themselves range from large and hilly to remote, jungle-covered outcrops of limestone. Snorkelling, diving and kayaking over turquoise bays and sparkling reefs are the reason most people travel here. But the traditional Ryukyu culture adds a distinctive flavour to any Okinawan holiday. Until 1879, when they were annexed by Japan, the islands formed a semi-autonomous kingdom, whose multiracial roots remain discernible in the local language (‘Okinawa-ben’), music (played on the three-stringed sanshin), Chinese-influenced architecture and, not least, the local Thai-style rice liquor, awamori.

Okinawa may look like just another idyllic beach haven, but it’s one with its own distinctive style and atmosphere, offering the perfect wind-down after a tour of the country’s heartlands.

 

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With the world beginning to open up again, now is the time to begin planning your 2021 holiday to Asia. Our Travel Specialists are ready to take your call and discuss the adventure you have spent 2020 dreaming of.

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