Often nicknamed the Hawaii of Japan, the island of Okinawa, located in the archipelago of the same name, is like an earthly paradise with its absolutely sublime landscapes, its mysteries and its oh so welcoming inhabitants. A distant land with multiple riches that is well worth exploring in due form.
1. It is the homeland of karate
Karate was born a very long time ago in the kingdom of Ryukyu, an ancient independent kingdom located on the island of Okinawa. However, it fully took off in 1609 when the island was conquered by the Japanese Satsuma clan. It is also in Okinawa that was born Mr. Miyagi, the famous character of the film Karate Kid, played by the late Pat Morita. I
2. It’s never cold there
Even in the middle of winter, it rarely drops below 20 degrees in Okinawa. The climate is therefore ideal for indulging in all the activities that the place encourages, such as diving.
3. We live there very old
Okinawa has the longest life expectancy in the world: 87 years on average for women and 79.4 years for men. There are 33 centenarians per 100,000 inhabitants. Despite everything, for several years, this life expectancy has continued to decline. A phenomenon linked to the recent establishment on the island of several fast food restaurants, very popular with young people. As a result, today, we eat less well, we live less old and Okinawa has the highest male obesity rate in all of Japan.
4. Anyone can dive
Yes, Okinawa is one of the few places in the world where no training is required to dive. That’s good because the seabed is sublime. And in terms of safety, it is good to know that a guide always supervises the outings. A good opportunity to visit the incredible Blue Grotto of Cape Maeda.
5. And by the way Okinawa is made of coral
In part anyway! It is this same coral, a very particular species, which gave birth to the island’s unique star-shaped beaches.
6. There is a river like no other
Not only is the Siokawa salty, which is very rare on the planet for a river, but it is also the shortest in Japan, at only 300 meters long. It has its own ecosystem and is surrounded by a magnificent subtropical forest.
7. A third of the island is protected
Because there are many endemic species, such as the Iriomote wildcat and the Yonaguni horse, and because nature is as beautiful as it is fragile, a third of Okinawa is therefore considered a national park. Preserved areas that it is nevertheless possible to visit.
8. 75% of US military bases in Japan are located there
Incredible but true. This is because after World War II, Okinawa came under US military rule. The country therefore seized land on which it settled the soldiers and their families. In total, 1/5th of the total area of the island is therefore American. As a result, and this can be understood, Americans are not super popular in Okinawa.
9. The salt here is exceptional
Listed in the Guinness Book of Records, Okinawa salt is the one with the most minerals. There are 14 of them. According to the inhabitants, it is partly responsible for the exceptional life expectancy.
10. Okinawa wasn’t always Japanese
No, because before, the island was part of the independent kingdom of Ryukyu. As a result, the culture remains very different from that of Japan with marked Chinese influences, in terms of music or gastronomy in particular.
Attention, here, we drive on the right, and not on the left as in Japan. It’s good to know.