Okinawa, Japan Feb. 28 Wed 11:51AM
Capital of Ryukyu Kingdom, Okinawa
Naha is the largest city in Okinawa, and is the cultural center of the prefecture. Historically, it was the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and has developed into a modern city that blends Okinawan and Japanese culture. It is located in the southern part of Okinawa Main Island, and along with being the cultural center of Okinawa, it is also the political, economic, and transportation center.
Naha by Night
Kokusai Dori ("International Street") is less than two miles long, but it is lined with shopping and eating opportunities galore. Souvenir shops on the street account for more than one third of the businesses on this street. Located next to Kokusai Dori is the Makishi Public Market, which is known as "the kitchen of Naha." This market is the largest food market in Okinawa and has a lot of local flavor and color- the market is filled with energy and fresh produce and seafood, mostly sold by the "obaa" (grandmothers) who have lived on the island most, if not all of their lives. Even Japanese find this market to be an exotic experience- many of the foods available there are not available in mainland Japan.
The Walls of Shuri Castle
Historically, Naha was the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which was independent from Japan until the 19th century. Major remains from the Ryukyu Kingdom are preserved in Naha today- ruins of Shuri Castle (the former Ryukyu Palace) and Shikina-en (a Ryukyu residence that was the second residence and garden of former Ryukyu kings), Enkaku-ji Temple (the main temple of the Okinawa Rinzai sect of Buddhism), and Tama-udon, the Royal Mausoleum, along with other examples of Ryukyu architecture and residences.