Japan Orbit: Information about Japanese Culture, Japanese History, and Travel in Japan Japan Orbit: Information about Japanese Culture, Japanese History, and Travel in Japan
Main TravelCultureLiving InformationLinksPicturesSite MapContact


Hutong School

Okinawa Honto

The center of the former Ryukyu Kingdom, Okinawa Main Island (Okinawa Honto) is by far the largest and most populous island in Okinawa Prefecture and the regional transportation hub.

The prefectural capital Naha and most of the US military bases are located on Okinawa Honto. While much of the central part of Okinawa Honto is urbanized, the southern tip of the island is less densely populated, and the north remains mainly covered by forested hills and small fishing and farming villages.

Principal atttractions

Shuri Castle

A city district of Naha today, Shuri is the name of the former capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Shuri Castle (Shurijo) served as the administrative center and residence of the Ryukyu kings for several centuries, until Okinawa became a Japanese prefecture in 1879. Wars and fires destroyed Shuri Castle multiple times over the centuries, most recently in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The castle's main buildings stand on top of a hill and are approached through several gates. The plaza is encircled on the other three sides by the Hokuden (North Hall) and Nanden (South Hall), former administrative buildings, which are now housing related exhibitions, and the Hoshinmon (Hoshin Gate).

Shikinaen Garden

Shikinaen was constructed in the end of the 17th century as the second residence of the Ryukyus. It features wooden palace buildings with Okinawan style, red tile roofs and a spacious Japanese style landscape garden.

The  garden can be viewed from a circular path, which leads through the woods, along the ponds, over the bridges and past a pretty hexagonal building on a small islet. While designed in a style seen elsewhere in Japan, the garden is given a distinct Okinawan flavor by its buildings and subtropical flora.

Shikinaen was completely destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa of 1945, but has been neatly restored in the postwar years. In 2000, Shikinaen was among the sites added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites under the collective title "Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu".

War Memorials

Towards the end of World War Two, Okinawa Island became site of one of the war's bloodiest battles, when the US forces invaded and occupied the island. An estimated 200,000 people, including more than 100,000 civilians and 12,500 Americans were killed in the battle, which lasted from April to June 1945. Numerous sites and memorials related to the "Battle of Okinawa" are concentrated mainly in the south of the island, where the worst fighting took place: The spacious Peace Memorial Park is located near the southern tip of the island.

Its main attraction is the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, which gives a sobering overview of the road to the battle, the battle itself and the reconstruction of Okinawa.

Other monuments in the park include the "Cornerstone of Peace", a collection of large stone plates with the names of all fallen soldiers and civilians, including Koreans, Taiwanese, Americans and Britons.


Websites about other countries:

Korea China Korea English versions

Korea China German versions


Hutong School