The beaches in Okinawa are open from the end of May through the middle of September. One important tip to enjoy Okinawa’s beaches is to protect your skin from the sun. The ultraviolet rays from the sun exposure are fi ve times stronger than in mainland Japan.
■Remote Islands of Okinawa With its myriad of colors and white sand, the ocean and beaches surrounding Okinawa are some of the most popular in the world and draw visitors and divers from all parts of the globe. We would like to introduce to you beaches that are accessible from the main island of Okinawa and that are great for one-day trips.
Kouri Island is accessible from Okinawa Main Island via the Kouri Bridge. Experience amazing views of the turquoise colored ocean. Another popular tourist attraction is the Kouri Ocean Tower, which opened in 2013. Here you can enjoy the vast landscape of sugarcane fi elds.
Kerama Islands On March 5, 2014, the Kerama Islands were added to the national parks of Japan. This clear ocean is home to many beautiful corral reefs. It attracts divers from all over the planet.
Aka Island (one of the Kerama Islands) is located 50 minutes by high-speed ferry and 90 minutes by regular ferry from Okinawa Main Island. The island of 300 populations is not hustled by tour buses. You will find peaceful empty beaches. Many less featured tourist spots make up this heavenly paradise, with its white sand beaches and multi-hued ocean of emerald, turquoise, and sapphire.
Zamami Island (one of the Kerama Islands) offers great diving spots. Whale watching is also available from January through March.
Tokashiki Island (one of the Kerama Islands) off ers 50-60 meters of crystal clear water. The magnifi cent beauty of this ocean is known around the world, attracting many divers and visitors. This island also allows visitors the opportunity to encounter wild sea turtles.
■Rum in Okinawa Awamori is a well-known local Okinawa hard liquor.With Okinawa’s excellent quality of sugarcane, Rum is also another locally produced liquor. The high quality sugarcane produces a superior quality of rum. There are three distilleries in Okinawa: Ie Rum in Ie Island, CORCOR in Minamidaito Island, and the Helios Rum in Nago City.
One of Okinawa’s distilleries is the Ie-jima distillery in Ie Island, located north from Okinawa Main Island. “Ie Rum Santamaria” is made from the inland’s grown sugarcane. The facility is open for visitors. Here you can taste freshly made rum and enjoy the deep aroma of 100% squeezed sugarcane. Access is by ferryboat from the Motobu Harbor in Okinawa Main Island. The ferry ride takes approximately 30 minutes. Ie-jima Distillery 1623-7 Higashiemae, Ie-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa Phone 0980-49-2885 *To visit the Ie-jima Distillery, you must first make a reservation over the phone.
The rum “CORCOR” was born in Minamidaito Island in 2005. It was created from the owner’s passion for making rum from Okinawa’s high quality sugarcane. Unlike conventional rum, CORCOR has no additives or artifi cial coloring.
In 1961 Helios Distillery, known as a maker of Helios Rum started their company by making rum from Okinawa’s sugarcane.
Rum is an indispensable recipe for many sweets, such as cakes and breads. One traditional rum recipe is for rum cake. The sweet and rich aroma coming from the freshly baked rum cake is simply irresistible. Savor it right from the oven, or later, as rum cake moisture and fl avor deepens with age. Enjoy a delicious moist rum cake.
■Events from summer through autumn
Eisa is Okinawa’s folk dance to honor the deceased spirits of their ancestors. It is believed that the ancestral spirits visit their relatives during Bon in midsummer. Eisa is a local community event and is usually performed by young people marching on the streets along with traditional bands and singing. The majestic dance performances and lively Japanese drums are soul stirring. Traditionally, Eisa is performed during the Bon period but there are special Eisa events that are held to gather the various regions’ of Eisa performances.
All Islands of Okinawa Eisa Festival (Okinawa biggest Eisa event) Where: Okinawa City When: The weekend after Kyu-Bon (Bon period followed by the lunar calendar) *It will take place on September 4 through 6 for the year of 2015.
Youth Furusato (Hometown) Eisa Festival Where: Naha City When: Sometime between the months of August and September, for details, see http://www.furusatoeisa.com/
10,000 Eisa Dancers Where: International avenue in Naha City When: Month of August (It will be August 2 for the year of 2015)
■The Great Tug of War The Naha Great Tug of War is an event that takes place during the national Sports Day Holiday weekend (Saturday through Monday) in the month of October. With the Hatagashira (a fl ag decorated with Gods and the region’s symbols) paraded around, tens of thousands of people come to participate in a great tug of war contest using a gigantic rope. This is a highlight of the event and not to be missed.
■AEON MALL Okinawa Rycome This mall opened on April 25, 2015. There are around 220 retailers, including 70 stores that are brand new to Okinawa, such as FOREVER 21. You can also fi nd products made exclusively in Okinawa and made-in-Japan products. The food court serves dishes from all over the world. There are various events held here throughout the day such as traditional Okinawan dance and music. Rycome Welcome Station off ers services such as tourist information, foreign currency exchanges, rental car arrangement, tax-refund procedures, and foreign language assistance (available in English, Traditional Chinese, Simplifi ed Chinese, and Korean). Okinawa’s largest shopping mall provides a spacious and relaxing tropical atmosphere decorated with traditional Okinawa style red roof tiles. Relax and enjoy the shopping and lush resort style landscape.
■Visit local cafes
There are several local cafes around the Nakagusuku area, where the AEON MALL Okinawa Rycom is located.
Ploughmans Lunch Bakery
Located on top of a hill with breathtaking ocean views, this café is famous for its delicious breads. This café used to be a “Gaikokujin-jutaku,” a Western style house built for the US soldiers and their family members while on duty in Okinawa. Address: 927-2 Adaniya, Kitanakagusukuson, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa Phone: 098-979-9097
A Danian CAFÉ
The owner, who is originally from Hokkaido, opened this café seven years ago. Situated on a hilltop and with gorgeous views of the ocean, this modern and natural designed café serves outstanding soup curry dish. Address: 638-1 Adaniya, Kitanakagusukuson, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa Phone: 098-935-0188
This café features Kyoto style meals and deserts. Experience traditional Kyoto cuisine right here in Okinawa. Address: 150-3 Ogido, Kitanakagusukuson, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa Phone: 098-935-1012
Enjoy the stylish interiors and relaxing atmosphere of the mofgmona café. All of the bowls and plates that they use are made from local ceramic artists. There is also a gift shop where you can find items that have been selected by the café. It is located on the 3rd floor in the same building. Address: 2-1-29 Ginowan, Ginowan City, Okinawa