Strung out to the south of Japan, the island chain of Okinawa reaches nearly as far as the Tropic of Cancer: pristinely white-sanded in the blue waters of the East China Sea.
Originally an autonomous kingdom, the islands were once known as the Ryukyu Islands, and have a culture, climate and cuisine that are simultaneously Japanese and non-Japanese. Okinawan architecture, arts, and cuisine are all unique to the islands. To the mainlanders, Okinawa is exotic; almost foreign.
People come here for the scuba diving and the superb beaches, and a number of world- class resorts dot the coastlines. Away from the coral reefs and untouched wilderness of the more remote islands, the prefectural capital of Naha is famous for pottery and markets.