Eye on the World: Okinawa

written by | Posted on February 27th, 2013

Lobby of the Loisir Hotel & Spa Towers in Naha, an ideal location from which to explore the largest city in Okinawa.

Lobby of the Loisir Hotel & Spa Towers in Naha, an ideal location from which to explore the largest city in Okinawa.

Stone gate marks the entrance to Shurijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site dating to the 14th century. It was built to serve as a seat for rulers of the Ryukyuan KIngdom that was annexed by Japan in the 1800's.

Stone gate marks the entrance to Shurijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site dating to the 14th century. It was built to serve as a seat for rulers of the Ryukyuan KIngdom that was annexed by Japan in the 1800's.

Gatekeeper at Shurijo Castle Park.

Gatekeeper at Shurijo Castle Park.

Doorway at Shurijo Castle Park.

Doorway at Shurijo Castle Park.

Girl in traditional Okinawan dress at Shurijo Castle Park in Naha.

Girl in traditional Okinawan dress at Shurijo Castle Park in Naha.

The throne room at Shurijo Castle.

The throne room at Shurijo Castle.

Gate marking the entrance to hokuden, the ceremonial center of ancient Shurijo Castle.

Gate marking the entrance to hokuden, the ceremonial center of ancient Shurijo Castle.

The hokuden, a ceremonial annex in Shurijo Castle Park.

The hokuden, a ceremonial annex in Shurijo Castle Park.

Okinawan girl at Shurijo Castle Park in Naha.

Okinawan girl at Shurijo Castle Park in Naha.

Vermilion was the color of choice for the ancient Ryukyuan rulers who made their home in the hilltop castle that overlooks modern day Naha.

Vermilion was the color of choice for the ancient Ryukyuan rulers who made their home in the hilltop castle that overlooks modern day Naha.

Emi Kinjo, owner of Emi-no-mise (restaurant of good taste and smiles) picks greens from her garden to serve patrons of her restaurant, a fabled eatery in Okinawa's Ogimi Village north of Naha. The town (population about 3,000) is reputed to have the highest longevity index in the world. A disproportionate number of residents are older than 100 and many credit this to a healthy diet, such as that served in Kinjo's establishment.

Emi Kinjo, owner of Emi-no-mise (restaurant of good taste and smiles) picks greens from her garden to serve patrons of her restaurant, a fabled eatery in Okinawa's Ogimi Village north of Naha. The town (population about 3,000) is reputed to have the highest longevity index in the world. A disproportionate number of residents are older than 100 and many credit this to a healthy diet, such as that served in Kinjo's establishment.

Emi Kinjo with a bento box of healthy dishes served in Emi-no-mise. Her restaurant in Ogimi Village is reputed as the place with the highest longevity index in the world.

Emi Kinjo with a bento box of healthy dishes served in Emi-no-mise. Her restaurant in Ogimi Village is reputed as the place with the highest longevity index in the world.

Girl tasting awamori, Okinawa's version of sake, at the Zuisen Distillery in Naha, where the liquor is brewed. Awamori is a potent rice wine exclusive to the Ryukyan Islands.

Girl tasting awamori, Okinawa's version of sake, at the Zuisen Distillery in Naha, where the liquor is brewed. Awamori is a potent rice wine exclusive to the Ryukyan Islands.

A rainy afternoon in Murasaki Mura, an Okinawan cultural center about one hour north of Naha.

A rainy afternoon in Murasaki Mura, an Okinawan cultural center about one hour north of Naha.

A whale shark inspects visitors to Okinawa's Chaurami Aquarium, one of the most impressive marine centers in Asia.

A whale shark inspects visitors to Okinawa's Chaurami Aquarium, one of the most impressive marine centers in Asia.

The Naha Public Market is a wonderland of color, atmosphere and delightful local food stalls where locals enjoy Okinawa's distinct cuisine.

The Naha Public Market is a wonderland of color, atmosphere and delightful local food stalls where locals enjoy Okinawa's distinct cuisine.

Dishes at the Naha Public Market include exotic treats such as pig ears, whole fried fish with a chili sauce, fried pork fat and delightful seafood soups, the typical cuisine of Okinawa.

Dishes at the Naha Public Market include exotic treats such as pig ears, whole fried fish with a chili sauce, fried pork fat and delightful seafood soups, the typical cuisine of Okinawa.

The food stalls at the Naha Public Market are popular with locals who come to sample dishes that seem to change by the hour. The place is excellent in service, cleanliness and fabulous dishes.

The food stalls at the Naha Public Market are popular with locals who come to sample dishes that seem to change by the hour. The place is excellent in service, cleanliness and fabulous dishes.

Ryukyuan cuisine is heavy on pork and seafood. Here, a pig's head adorned with sunglasses marks the entrance to the meat section of the Naha Public Market.

Ryukyuan cuisine is heavy on pork and seafood. Here, a pig's head adorned with sunglasses marks the entrance to the meat section of the Naha Public Market.

Kabira Bay is a beautiful cove on the northwest side of Ishigaki island. Visitors come to see if the waters are as turquoise as tourism guides promise. They are.

Kabira Bay is a beautiful cove on the northwest side of Ishigaki island. Visitors come to see if the waters are as turquoise as tourism guides promise. They are.

A hiker on the banks of the Uraichi River on Iriomote Island of the Yaeyama Island group in Okinawa. This is a seldom-visited spot ripe for adventure travelers.

A hiker on the banks of the Uraichi River on Iriomote Island of the Yaeyama Island group in Okinawa. This is a seldom-visited spot ripe for adventure travelers.

Carts pulled by water buffalos link Yubu and Iriomote Islands. The carts just might be Okinawa's most unique forms of transportation, and riders are traditionally treated to folk songs by the cart driver.

Carts pulled by water buffalos link Yubu and Iriomote Islands. The carts just might be Okinawa's most unique forms of transportation, and riders are traditionally treated to folk songs by the cart driver.

Visitors arrive on Yubu Island after crossing the narrow inlet on a cart pulled by a water buffalo.

Visitors arrive on Yubu Island after crossing the narrow inlet on a cart pulled by a water buffalo.

Lobby of the Loisir Hotel & Spa Towers in Naha, an ideal location from which to explore the largest city in Okinawa.Stone gate marks the entrance to Shurijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site dating to the 14th century. It was built to serve as a seat for rulers of the Ryukyuan KIngdom that was annexed by Japan in the 1800's.Gatekeeper at Shurijo Castle Park.Doorway at Shurijo Castle Park.Girl in traditional Okinawan dress at Shurijo Castle Park in Naha.The throne room at Shurijo Castle.Gate marking the entrance to hokuden, the ceremonial center of ancient Shurijo Castle.The hokuden, a ceremonial annex in Shurijo Castle Park.Okinawan girl at Shurijo Castle Park in Naha.Vermilion was the color of choice for the ancient Ryukyuan rulers who made their home in the hilltop castle that overlooks modern day Naha.Emi Kinjo, owner of Emi-no-mise (restaurant of good taste and smiles) picks greens from her garden to serve patrons of her restaurant, a fabled eatery in Okinawa's Ogimi Village north of Naha. The town (population about 3,000) is reputed to have the highest longevity index in the world. A disproportionate number of residents are older than 100 and many credit this to a healthy diet, such as that served in Kinjo's establishment.Emi Kinjo with a bento box of healthy dishes served in Emi-no-mise. Her restaurant in Ogimi Village is reputed as the place with the highest longevity index in the world.Girl tasting awamori, Okinawa's version of sake, at the Zuisen Distillery in Naha, where the liquor is brewed. Awamori is a potent rice wine exclusive to the Ryukyan Islands.A rainy afternoon in Murasaki Mura, an Okinawan cultural center about one hour north of Naha.A whale shark inspects visitors to Okinawa's Chaurami Aquarium, one of the most impressive marine centers in Asia.The Naha Public Market is a wonderland of color, atmosphere and delightful local food stalls where locals enjoy Okinawa's distinct cuisine.Dishes at the Naha Public Market include exotic treats such as pig ears, whole fried fish with a chili sauce, fried pork fat and delightful seafood soups, the typical cuisine of Okinawa.The food stalls at the Naha Public Market are popular with locals who come to sample dishes that seem to change by the hour. The place is excellent in service, cleanliness and fabulous dishes.Ryukyuan cuisine is heavy on pork and seafood. Here, a pig's head adorned with sunglasses marks the entrance to the meat section of the Naha Public Market.Kabira Bay is a beautiful cove on the northwest side of Ishigaki island. Visitors come to see if the waters are as turquoise as tourism guides promise. They are.A hiker on the banks of the Uraichi River on Iriomote Island of the Yaeyama Island group in Okinawa. This is a seldom-visited spot ripe for adventure travelers.Carts pulled by water buffalos link Yubu and Iriomote Islands. The carts just might be Okinawa's most unique forms of transportation, and riders are traditionally treated to folk songs by the cart driver.Visitors arrive on Yubu Island after crossing the narrow inlet on a cart pulled by a water buffalo.