Learn Japan’s southernmost prefecture, OKINAWA Part2

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Cape Zanpa in Yomitan Village is the first of many spectacular capes that dot the eastern coastline. The Cape Zanpa Lighthouse sits on the corner of the cape on acres of beautifully manicured land. The walking paths around the lighthouse border the China Sea and provide great scenic views. The cape is a popular fishing spot and the rocks along the water are usually crowded with fishermen. A huge shisa guards the entrance to the Zanpa Misaki Recreation Plaza, where you will find a playground, restaurants, shops, and barbecue pits.

Nakadomari Beach, located on the west side of Okinawa, overlooking the East China Sea is registered as a National Seashore. Here, visitors can enjoy parasailing, horseback riding, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and surfing. There are stairs carved from rock at Maeda Point, the entrance to the bay, which allows easy access to the water for surfers and divers. 

Located in the suburbs of Nago City, just a short drive from the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, is the Kanucha Resort Hotel. Set amidst the sea and surrounding mountains of northern Okinawa, the hotel offers a championship-caliber golf course called the Kanucha Golf Course. Given its ideal location, guests at this resort can partake in many different types of water sports and activities including diving, jet skiing, snorkeling, banana boat rides, and glass bottom boat excursions, to name a few. 

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Churaumi Aquarium by Mk2010 (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

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In 1975, Okinawa hosted the World’s Exposition at its Ocean Expo Park. Unfortunately, over the years, the park saw a decrease in visitors, prompting the construction of the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in 2002 in an effort to help boost tourism. Churaumi in Okinawan Japanese means beautiful ocean. The aquarium has four floors with tanks containing deep sea creatures, sharks, coral, and tropical fish. It is one of only a few aquariums that keep whale sharks in captivity and is currently trying to breed them. Over 20 million visitors have walked through its doors since its opening. 

Located just north of Nago City is Kouri Island. Visitors must cross two bridges to access the island. The first bridge connects the main island of Okinawa with Yagaji Island. The second, the Kouri Big Bridge, is Japan’s longest toll-free bridge, spanning 1.2 miles (1.9 km). It connects Yagaji to Kouri Island. Once you reach Kouri Island, you can take advantage of the beautiful beach and all it has to offer including swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and diving. 

Kouri is famous for producing delicious sea urchins, a delicacy in Japan. Nirai Kanai in Okinawan Japanese means “closest place to heaven”, and it is the name given to a mythical island where the gods are said to reside. According to Okinawan legend, the gods travel from the island each year to bless their people. An hour south of Nago City is Nanjo City where there is a bridge called the Nirai Kanai Bridge. The view from the bridge is breathtaking. There is an observation spot just above the tunnel that leads to the entrance of the bridge but finding a parking spot can be a challenge. 

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Nago Okinawa Kouri-Bridge by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

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Japan National Route 58 is an unusual highway that runs along the coast of Okinawa and continues to other islands. It starts at the Meiji Bridge in Naha and ends in Kagoshima. Unfortunately, sections of the highway running from island to island are not connected in any manner other than the name. Hotel Moon Beach is approximately 60 minutes by car on Route 58 and offers great views of the crescent-shaped private, white sand beach known as Moon Beach. The beach extends 160 yards (146 m) along the water and is often densely populated with beach goers. There are areas for beach umbrellas, volleyball nets, and a designated swimming area. 

If your travels take you to the Okinawa Prefecture, take the time to immerse yourself in the unique Ryukyu culture and partake in all that the region has to offer. The experience will be both educational and enjoyable. 

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『Kristine’s Eye on Japan: Introduction to Japanese Culture』
Writer: Kristine Ohkubo

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(6/20/2022)

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