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Okinawa is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, an island chain to the southwest of the mainland. The name Okinawa means "rope in the open sea" and consists of 49 inhabited islands and 111 uninhabited islands.

Most people come to Okinawa for the sun and beaches. Even in midwinter, when many areas of the mainland Japan teeter around the freezing point, temperatures rarely dip below 15°C in Okinawa. For more adventurous types, the vast yet almost uninhabited island of Iriomote is covered in dense jungle.

Two standout cultural attractions are the newly rebuilt Shuri Castle in Naha on Okinawa Island, and the carefully preserved tiny village of Taketomi in the southern Yaeyama Islands. Historical sites related to World War II can be found throughout the islands, especially the main island of Okinawa, including the Peace Memorial Park in Naha, the navy's former underground headquarters and the Himeyuri Monument.

Churaumi Aquarium is a world class aquarium located on the Motobu peninsula. Attractions include one of the world’s largest tanks with huge whale sharks and manta rays. The aquarium is located in Ocean Expo Park with a beautiful public facility called Emerald Beach.

The Okinawa archipelago is one of the world's best diving destinations, with the count of marine species on par with the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. You can find over 400 types of corals, 5 types of sea turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and many kinds of tropical fish. There is some world-class diving to look forward to which include the gorgeous reefs surrounding the Kerama Islands, the manta rays of Miyako and Ishigaki and the hammerhead sharks and underwater ruins of Yonaguni. The waters are generally great for diving all year round, although water temperature fluctuates between 22°C in the winter to around 29°C in summer. Also, beware of the typhoons during June-November and the north wind that may frequently close diving sites in the north shores of many of the islands during November and December.


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