It’s time for the sixth entry in my series of itinerary ideas for my potential trip to Japan and Korea later this year. Today I’m focusing on Okinawa, which I’ve circled red in the Google Maps screenshot below. Okinawa is the southernmost prefecture in Japan and in 2017 I had considered visiting Okinawa but I ended up not going. Having seen and heard good things about Okinawa—both from a friend of mine who used to live there and from people who have written about it and shared photos online—I’ve decided that Okinawa is going to be a guaranteed part of any journey I take out to Japan and Korea this year.
The capital city of Naha is likely where I’ll be flying into and out of Okinawa, so I’m guessing I’ll be spending at least two days there. Within Naha a few of the things I’d like to check out include Shuri Castle, the Shinkinaen Garden, and the Okinawa Prefectural Museum. Naha could also serve as a base for exploring other parts of the island if I rented a car there (see the next two items in today’s post).
South of Naha are a number of places that look like they’d be interesting to visit. Among them are various WW2 memorials, Mibaru Beach, and Sefa Utaki (an important indigenous spiritual site). Because of it’s relative proximity to Naha I could spend a day going around the southern edge of Okinawa by bus, or I could rent a car to allow for more freedom of movement.
The northern half of Okinawa has a lot of things to see and this part of the island seems best explored by rental car. What I’m thinking is that I might drive up to the town of Nago and then use that as a base to explore northern Okinawa for two or so days. On the scenic drive between Naha and Nago it looks like I could stop by the ruins of Nakagusuku Castle, which could be cool. Once I’m up in Nago I could spend one day doing a loop up around Cape Hedo and also stopping to visit Hiji Waterfall. A second day could be spent going around the area with the Churaumi Aquarium and the Nakijin Castle ruins.
Besides wandering around Okinawa Island, I have ambitions to also visit one or two of the other islands in Okinawa Prefecture. I honestly have no idea if this plan will make it into the schedule but if I’m able I’ll try to go down to the Miyako or Yaeyama Islands. These islands are the southernmost and westernmost inhabited islands of Japan and if you look at a world map you’ll see that they are geographically close to Taiwan. Depending on my travel schedule it might not be possible to get out there, but it would probably be one of the highlights of the trip if I were able to pull it off.