With their unique history, subtropical climate, and surrounding crystal-blue waters, the southern islands of Okinawa are an exotic paradise. And at the heart of this Japanese prefecture is the capital city of Naha, which combines a tropical atmosphere with a modern vibe. On the cultural side, explore the Tsuboya pottery district, which has produced ceramics since 1682, or the city’s historic series of Asian-style covered markets. A must-see is Shurijo-koen, the reconstructed castle of the Okinawan royal family, and its famed wall gate, Shurei-no-mon, considered to be the iconic image of Okinawa and can be found on Japan's ¥2000 bank note. For water enthusiasts, check out Naha’s fishing and sailing expeditions, swim amongst the coral reefs at Maeda Point, or venture to Okinawa’s most popular diving spot, the wreck of the USS Emmons, which was sunk in 1944 during WWII. As night falls, go to the lively Kokusai-dori (International Boulevard) for an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, shops and clubs.
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