In pictures: Okinawa, where people live the longest

Okinawa Japan

It sounds like Okinawa’s residents knew the secret to life all along. Source: Shutterstock.

KARATE is spread across many places, from India to China to Japan.

It is believed to have been developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom of Japan prior to its 19th-century annexation. Karate was made popular by the The Karate Kid film series and today, it is one of the most popular martial arts in the world, loved by millions around the globe.

But despite its fame, the original and traditional karate has been preserved in Okinawa, with its principles carefully guarded.

Okinawa prefecture, Japan’s southernmost prefecture, is home to many dojos (a room or a hall in which martial arts are practiced) where tourists can enjoy tours and experience karate.

Its handful of bookstores sell rare books about karate and karate-related stone monuments are some of its many tourist attractions. But its tourist attractions are not limited to karate alone.

The prefecture comprises more than 150 pristine islands in the East China Sea between Taiwan and Japan’s mainland and boasts a pleasant tropical climate, on top of broad beaches, and coral reefs.

The largest island, also named Okinawa, played a critical role in the Korean War, Vietnam War, Afghanistan war, and Iraq war, which explains its many World War II sites such as old battle sites, various memorial monuments, and museums.

Perhaps contradictory to its dark past, the island is also where people live the longest, with 34 centenarians per 100,000 people, five times more than the rest of Japan.

Gyokusendo Cave in Okinawa island, Japan

Gyokusendo Cave in Okinawa island, Japan. Source: Shutterstock.

Okinawa is also home to some natural and marine wonders such as the Gyukusendo Cave, a soaring underground cave with over a million stalactites and pools of water.

For those who want to get up close and personal with whale sharks, the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world, is a must-visit.

Churaumi, which means beautiful or graceful (chura) and ocean (umi), houses the gentle giants and their majestic manta ray friends alongside many other colorful fish species.

Also worth mentioning is the “unboring” Okinawan food, which goes beyond just sushi or yakitori. Its signature dish, goya champuru (which means “something mixed) is the region’s culinary heritage on a plate.

Be sure to slurp up a generous serving of delectable Okinawan soba as well. Thick wheat noodles swimming in a clear broth of pork, bonito fish flakes and konbu (kelp).

Take a look at what Okinawa prefecture has to offer: