The central region of the main Okinawa island will welcome you to a multicultural "champuru" environment. Here the diversity of Okinawa shines, with the traditional Okinawan culture intersecting with Chinese, Taiwanese and American flavors.
American Village is a popular hangout for many Americans living on Okinawa, Mihama is home to the "American Village," which offers visitors many different ways to meet new people and enjoy their time here. Located in Chatan Town, which is in the vicinity of Kadena Air Base, Camp Lester and Camp Foster, Mihama allows visitors a hybrid of American and Japanese culture. No matter what time of day or night, Mihama has an attraction for all ages. One popular attraction and easily identifiable land mark is the large Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel, spinning at the top of a small shopping area filled with restaurants and retail stores, is a great way to get a birds-eye-view of the area. While browsing through the stores under the Ferris wheel, patrons can take a break and enjoy a meal at one of the many traditional Japanese restaurants or choose from American favorites like Baskin Robins or A&W Restaurant.
Located n the midst of Ginowan City, within earshot of the humming traffic and bustling crowds, stands a shrine for the gods of Okinawa. Futenma Gongen is made up of two shrines and a series of caves, which serve as a shrine for the Okinawans. The two large, gold-laced shrines materialize between the modern buildings of Ginowan. The buildings loom over the caves that house the old altars of Futenma Gongen. The new shrines were commissioned by King Sho Kinpuku five centuries ago, during the first Sho dynasty, to honor the gods of caves. Through a large wooden torii gate stands the largest shrine of Futenma Gongen. Within it lies a public altar where the priests of Futenma Gongen conduct ceremonies and the public can come to pray. The altar is beautifully shaped and is a magnificent piece of history. The shrine is said to be home to the god of Futenma Gongen. Behind the shrines there is a door that leads down a flight of moss-covered stairs to the caves of Futenma Gongen. These caves were the original place of worship for the Okinawans. The original altars still rest at the foot of the stairs. Visitors are asked to pay their respects to the spirits before following the path deeper into the caves. The caves are well lit, and filled with stalactite and stalagmite formations that sparkle from moisture seeping through the ground above. Many of these formations are said to symbolize fertility.
Considered one of the top tourist destinations in Okinawa, Kokusai Dori, or "International Street," is a mile long selection of food, shopping, music and an overall view of Okinawan culture. Kokusai Dori was born immediately after the end of the World War II and is a perfect symbol of Okinawa's revival. Kokusai Dori is the largest shopping district and the main street in Naha, the capital of Okinawa. It is a must for any die hard shopper.
The Okinawa District Headquarters of the Japanese Navy was in this underground shelter during the war. At the end of the war, Commander Minoru Ota and other officers committed suicide here at the shelter. The interior of the shelter is kept as it was.
Shikina-en uilt in 1799, this is a garden that contains one of the royal family's residences. In fact, it was the largest country villa of the royal family. It was used as a retreat not only for the royal family but also for envoys from the emperor of China, thus playing an important role in the diplomacy of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The Shikina-en Royal Garden was completely destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa of 1945, but has been neatly restored in the postwar years. It features beautiful, relatively simple, wooden palace buildings with Okinawan style, red tile roofs and a spacious Japanese style landscape garden. The pleasant 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. In 2000, The Shikina-en Royal Garden was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Shuri, which means "Peace Street" and Ichiba-hon Dori branch off from Kokusai Dori near its center, these covered pedestrian streets are a great area to find bargain prices on a variety of items, including some unusual gifts.
Try your hand at beach diving here, suitable for a wide range of divers from absolute beginners to fun dives for experienced divers. The red, yellow, and purple alcyonacea (or soft corals) that paint the ocean a beautiful color is reminiscent of a flower garden and is a must-see of th