Okinawa Prefecture is the most southern prefecture of Japan. It is located off the coast of Taiwan and the climate is tropical. The best season to get there is between October and June. July, August and September is the season of typhoons. The island is particularly famous for beaches, surfing and dugongs. The prefecture's capital, Naha, is on the main island, Okinawa-hontō. The island is easily accessible by plane in about 2 hours, from Ōsaka Itami.
Okinawa-hontō was the historic centre of the Ryūkyū kingdom. 600 years ago, the island was divided into three kingdoms: Hokuzan in the north, Chūzan in the centre and Nanzan in the south. Shō Hashi, king of Chūzan, defeated the other two kingdoms and created the kingdom of Ryūkyū in 1429. The king lived in Shuri Castle, in the current town of Naha. The kingdom began trade with China, Korea and Southeast Asia and became rich.
In 1609, the Satsuma clan, from the southern island of Kyūshū (Japan), invaded the Ryūkyū. The kingdom, however, continued to have a certain degree of autonomy, allowing it to continue its trade with the rest of Asia. When the king of Ryūkyū changed, the Emperor of China sent a messenger, Sapposhi, with precious gifts. To welcome it, the kingdom created various cultural distractions that you can discover at Okinawa World: Ryūkyū folk dance, bingata dyeing, shuri-ori weaving, Ryūkyū lacquerware, Awamori rice liqueur and various culinary specialties. Relations with China continued for another 300 years, despite Satsuma's sovereignty.
In 1879, during the Meiji period, the Ryūkyū Kingdom became Okinawa Prefecture. The king then had to abandon Shuri Castle.
In 1945, during the battle between Japan and the United States, the castle was completely destroyed.
In 1992, the castle was rebuilt identical to the original, with its splendid original red colour. Why red? Nothing sure, but probably to copy a castle in the Chinese capital at the time of its construction.
In 2000, the ruins of Shuri Castle and other historical sites such as Seifa-Utaki and Shikina-en became World Heritage Sites.
The dragon was the symbol of the king of Ryūkyū. This is why it is represented all over the castle. But if you look carefully, it has only 4 claws, unlike the dragon of the Emperor of China, which has 5. You will also see many small lions with open (males) or closed (females) mouths, called Shīsa. They are protective gods. If you are lucky enough to find a 2000 yen bill, you can see the Shureimon Gate, the main gate of Shuri Castle. We inform you that the main building of Shuri Castle unfortunately burned in a fire in 2019. It should be restored but it will take time.
The Peace Memorial Park and its Museum relate to the Second World War and the post-war American occupation.
Shikwasa is a small Okinawa lime and goya is a bitter squash. Taste them!