Although each Japanese prefecture is unique in its own way, tropical Okinawa Prefecture (沖縄県, Okinawa-ken) is by far the most distinct, almost like a different country. And that assessment is true to a certain extent; Okinawa, known then as the Ryukyu Kingdom, was independent from Japan until 1879, and was part of US territory from 1945 to 1972. As a result, the culture, food, and even the language (although many do speak standard Japanese) differ vastly from those of any other region.
On Okinawa Island, places of note are the Chura-umi Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world and home to the whale shark, as well as ancient Ryukyu castle ruins, most notably Shuri-jo. Buy your souvenirs at Kokusai-dori, Okinawa’s main street.
Off the main island, the Yaeyama and Miyako Islands have Japan’s most pristine beaches, while retaining traditional Okinawan culture.
The island of Sesoko Jima holds goat fights during the months of May and November.
Catch a blooming field of lilies at the annual Yuri Matsuri Lily Festival on Ie Island in Okinawa
A special exhibition at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum looks at the history of Okinawa's Fine Arts, and the event..