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  Wikipedia: Okinawa Prefecture

Wikipedia: Okinawa Prefecture
Okinawa Prefecture
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Okinawa is also a city in Okinawa Prefecture.

Okinawa Prefecture (沖縄県) is Japan's southernmost prefecture, and consists of 169 islands named The Ryukyu Islands or Ryukyus, in an island chain over 1000km long, which extends southwest from Kyushu (the southwesternmost of Japan's main four islands) to Taiwan, although the northern islands in the chain are part of Kagoshima prefecture. Okinawa's capital, Naha, is located in the southern part of the largest and most populous island, Okinawa Honto (沖縄本島), which is approximately half-way between Kyushu and Taiwan. The disputed Senkaku Islands are also administered as part of Okinawa prefecture.

see also list of cities and districts of Okinawa prefecture.

Okinawa prefecture (沖縄県)

Okinawa prefectural symbol
CapitalNaha (那覇)
Region:Kyushu (九州)
- Total
- % water
Ranked 44th
2,271.30 km²
- Total (Oct. 1, 2000)
- Density
Ranked 32nd
ISO 3166-2:JP-47
Pref. Flower:Deigo
(Erythrina variegata)
Pref. Tree:Ryukyumatsu
Pref. Bird:Okinawa woodpecker
(Sapheopipo noguchii)


The islands that now make up Okinawa prefecture were formerly not part of Japan, but an independent nation called the Ryukyu (琉球) Kingdom. Okinawa's location in the East China Sea, and relatively close proximity to China, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines allowed the Ryukyu Kingdom to become a prosperous trading nation. However, in 1609 the Japanese Satsuma clan, who controlled the region that is now Kagoshima prefecture, invaded. Following this invasion, although the Ryukyu Kingdom remained nominally independent, it was effectively under the control of the Satsuma. In 1879, following the Meiji restoration, the Ryukyu Kingdom was abolished and became Okinawa prefecture.

Following the end of World War II and the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, for 27 years Okinawa was under US administration. During this time, Okinawa's currency was the US dollar, and the US military established numerous bases on the Okinawa Honto and elsewhere. In 1972, Okinawa once again became part of Japan, although to this day the US maintains a large military presence there - a source of both resentment and employment for Okinawans.

see also History of Okinawa.

Language & Culture:

Having historically been a separate nation (and the Ryukyu Kingdom having had closer ties with China than with Japan), Okinawan language and culture differ considerably from that of mainland Japan. There remain numerous Okinawan dialects that have their origins in the Ryukyu language, and are more-or-less incomprehensible to Japanese speakers. The language is in decline as the Japanese government has encouraged the use of the standard Japanese language.

Ethnically, they are related to the Filipinos Philippines, Taiwan Aborigines Taiwan and the Southern Japanese of Kyushu. Okinawans are ethnically very mixed because of the intermarriage with the American occupation forces (Caucasian), Chinese, Japanese and the Latinos (Okinawan temp workers wives in South America). The original Okinawans with dark complextion are sometimes discriminated by the fair skinned people by calling them "Jiguros". There have been some independence movement by the local Okinawans who wants to create their new "Uchina Republic".

Perhaps Okinawa's most famous cultural export is Karate (空手), probably a product of the close ties with, and influence of China on Okinawan culture. Karate is thought to be a synthesis of Chinese kung fu with traditional Okinawan martial arts. A ban on weapons in Okinawa for two long periods in its history also very likely contributed to its development.

Another traditional Okinawan product that owes its existence to Okinawa's trading history is Awamori - an Okinawan spirit made from Thai rice. Other prominent examples of Okinawan culture include the sanshin - a three-stringed Okinawan instrument, somewhat similar to a banjo, whose body is often bound with the skin of Okinawa's poisonous Habu snake - and the Eisa dance - a traditional drumming dance.

Climate and Nature

The island is largely composed of coral rock, and rainwater filtering through that coral has given the island many caves, which played an important role in the Battle of Okinawa.

Okinawa is said to have the most beautiful beaches in all of Japan and normally enjoys above 20 degree Celsius weather for most of the year. Many coral reefs are found in this region of Japan and wildlife is abundant. Sea turtles return yearly to the southern islands of Okinawa to lay their eggs. The summer months carry warnings to swimmers regarding poisonous jellyfish and other dangerous sea creatures. Okinawa is a major producer of sugar cane and tropical fruits.


Whereas most homes in Japan are made with wood and allow free-flow of air to combat humidity, homes in Okinawa are typically made from concrete with barred windows (protection from flying plant matter) to deal with regular typhoons. Roofs are also designed with strong winds in mind, with each tile cemented on and not merely layered as seen with many homes elsewhere in Japan. Many roofs also display a roundish lion/dragon statue called a Shisa which is said to protect the home from danger. Roofs are typically red in color and are inspired by Chinese design.

Major Okinawan Islands

Okinawa Honto - 沖縄本島
Ishigaki-jima - 石垣島
Iriomote-jima - 西表島
Miyako-jima - 宮古島
Kume-jima - 久米島
Ie-jima - 伊江島

External links


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona