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Top Rated Attractions in Okinawa

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South East Botanical Gardens

The subtropical climate of Okinawa allows for a fantastic botanical garden where you can examine tropical and subtropical plants and beautiful blossoms. The main aim of the South East Botanical Gardens is to provide knowledge and research about the plants and environment through its two gardens; namely botanical and aquatic. One of the features you can't miss is the pond that flows amidst the garden and the carp fish that swim right up to the surface for feeding. The two gardens also offer their venue for private parties and events.

Shurijo Castle Park

As the Ryuku nation's palace, Shurijo Castle was the economic, religious and administrative epicenter of the chain of islands now known as Okinawa. Once bound to pay tribute to China and Japan while also doing trade with Southeast Asia, the influences of all these cultures can be seen in the architecture, decor, and most of all the blazingly red walls of the castle. Since being built in the 1400s, Shurijo has served as a royal residence, a Japanese military base, and as a school. It is the only Okinawan castle to be completely restored to its 18th Century state after being bombed during World War II, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site easily accessed by monorail or bus. Traditional Ryukyuan dances are performed in the main courtyard three times daily. See the website for more details.

Busena Marine Park

At the Busena Marine Park on the southern outskirts of Nago City, tourists and locals alike can go underwater to explore the coral that thrives in the ocean, or board a glass-bottom boat to admire what lies beneath. The observatory looks like a tube perched off the coast of the island, and takes visitors down to the ocean floor for a panoramic view of Okinawa's marine life. Glass-bottom boats that go further out are on the beach.

Bios on the Hill

In Ishikawa near Uruma, visitors can walk through the fern-filled park, kayak, ride in a water buffalo cart, or go on a 25-minute jungle cruise, though tickets for the rides are not included in the entrance fee. The beautiful wild orchids growing in the park and the adjacent Bios on the Hill Garden Center, the largest orchid greenhouse in Japan, provide a perfect backdrop for a romantic outing as well. Wheelchairs and strollers can be rented at the front desk.

Yomitan Pottery Village

The Yomitan Pottery Village offers a unique look into traditional Okinawan pottery and craftsmanship. The village is home to over 45 workshops and boutiques specializing in everything from traditional unglazed Ryukyuan ceramics to the more modern glazed pottery. These unique pieces are sold in small shops in the village itself. From everyday delicate crockery like teacups and saucers to more decorative pieces like the "shisha" or Japanese guard dog to ward off evil, there is something here for every budget and taste. This is a wonderful place to appreciate the fine art of pottery making firsthand and experience an integral part of Okinawan culture.

National Theatre Okinawa

Just north of Naha City in Urasoe, the National Theatre Okinawa was completed in 2004 to provide a space for the preservation of Okinawa's traditional performing arts. Kumiodori, an Okinawan play influenced heavily by Japanese noh and kabuki theater, takes center stage here. During the performance, audience members will see a beautiful example of a traditional bingata (textile dyed in Okinawan fashion) curtain serving as the backdrop to a dazzling display of costumes. The kumiodori plays contain dance, orchestrated music and singing, and depict the legends of the Ryukyu Islands.

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