Just a two-hour flight from Tokyo, the sparsely-populated and tropical paradise of Okinawan archipelago in southern Japan is the perfect place to kick-start your wandering wanderlust once international travel resumes.
Expected to reopen its Torii gates to international visitors in early to mid-2022, Japan is positioned to reclaim its place at the top of Australia’s most favourite travel destinations. And with its unique culture, amazing food scene, high-tech pizazz and old-world charm, it isn’t hard to see why Aussies love the Land of the Rising Sun.
But, as we slowly settle into some semblance of normalcy and hit the road again with our suitcases and curious minds, there is perhaps no better time to visit the sparkling emerald jewel that is Okinawa.
This subtropical gem lying in the East China Sea really has it all: pristine beaches, tropical islands, unspoilt nature, UNESCO sites, a unique culture, an amazing food scene – and, perhaps most importantly at the moment – far fewer crowds than the megacities of Tokyo and Osaka.
Coupled with a superb choice of accommodation options (from traditional ryokans to modern sea-facing resorts) available all over the islands, a good night’s sleep (and hearty breakfast) is guaranteed with any stay here.
Here are just six reasons why should head to Okinawa in 2022 – and beyond.
1. You can experience a beach holiday away from the crowds
Forget Bali and Fiji – Okinawa is where it’s at!
With over 150 islands to choose from and a temperate climate, the Okinawan archipelago is able to deliver the perfect beach holiday experiences away from the crowds.
Sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling are literally dotted all over Okinawa, which are probably the cleanest beaches you’ve ever set your eyes upon. Some of the best ones to explore are Furuzamami Beach, Sunset Beach and Mibaru Beach.
2. You can indulge your taste buds in the world-famous local cuisine
It’s been supposed that the gastronomic scene in Okinawa is one of the main reasons why the locals here live longer than any community on the planet.
By combining only the freshest local produce with centuries-old culinary skills, the food you’ll eat in Okinawa isn’t just uber-healthy but it promises to be some of the best-tasting food you’ve ever eaten in your life.
Must tries include: Okinawa Soba, Goya champuru and Jimami Tofu (peanut tofu). But of course, there are tons more!
If you’d like to get a bit more hands-on with the local grub, definitely sign up for a traditional cooking class where you’ll visit a nearby market for your ingredients, learn all about the locally-grown produce in the area, and then receive expert instruction on how to make traditional Okinawan fare that will impress your friends and family back home.
3. You can learn some moves at a traditional karate dojo
As the birthplace of karate, there is perhaps no better place in the world to learn more about this world-famous martial artform than in Okinawa. Later exported to the rest of Japan and then all over the world, karate is just one of the many unique cultural expressions you’ll find dotted all over the Okinawan archipelago.
Not just about self-defence, karate is also practised for its innumerable health benefits and its ability to improve self-confidence, self-esteem and mood.
If you’d like to channel your inner karate kid and get on the tatami mats to practice some moves whilst visiting, definitely check out Asato Dojo in Naha city.
For black belts and complete beginners alike, you’ll learn from experienced teachers in a friendly environment that is sure to become one of the most memorable experiences of your trip to Japan for years and years!
4. You can make some traditional Okinwana pottery
Speaking of the unique Okinawan culture, you can also take part in a pottery workshop where you can create your own Tsuboya pottery which is a traditional art form for many generations in Okinawan. They make great souvenirs that you can take back home to remind you of your stay in this historically creative part of Japan.
5. You can visit one of nine World Heritage Sites in Okinawa
From ancient Ryukyu Kingdom castles such as Shurijo Castle to sacred sites such as Sonohyan Utaki Ishimon, Okiwanan heritage is a fascinating foray into history.
There are nine World Heritage Sites in Okinawa, making it the perfect place for history buffs to learn about the heroes of the Ryukuan legends and local Chieftains whilst admiring the ancient architecture that’s all around.
Many of these sites were built during the “Golden Age of the Ryukyu Kingdom” which lasted for 450 years since the middle of the 15th century.
6. You can hike to a waterfall and go forest bathing
As a subtropical archipelago, Okinawa is a natural paradise bursting with unspoilt beaches and coral reefs and then complemented with rolling mountains that harbour secret waterfalls and hidden away under pristine forest canopies.
Indeed, Okinawa is perfect for anyone keen on getting out into the great outdoors – which, let’s be honest, is pretty much anyone these days due to the pandemic…
For divers, make sure you check out the Kerama Islands which is a world-class diving destination with more than 50 amazing diving sites.
There are also plenty of snorkelling opportunities bookable through Marine House Seasir. And for other adventure seekers, you’ll be able to get that adrenaline pumping through a range of other exciting activities, such as parasailing, kayaking and literally hundreds of other options.
Hikers should check out Iriomote Island amongst other gems.
So what are you waiting for?
Send your clients to beautiful Okinawa today!
Don’t forget that you can skill-up on all things Okinawan by signing up to the Okinawa Travel Trade Training Program where not only can you learn how to sell this fascinating destination to your clients, but also score some sweet prizes for yourself!
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