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Naha

Located on Okinawa Island in Japan, Naha is the capital and biggest city of the Okinawa Prefecture, with a population of approximately 700,000. Through its harbour and Naha Airport, it serves as the transportation hub of the region, providing direct ferry and flight connections to other parts of Japan and Asia. Since Naha City was almost entirely devastated in the WWII Battle of Okinawa, just a small number of its buildings predate the war.

Naha’s major highlight is the reconstructed Shuri Castle, which was the seat of the Ryukyu Kingdom for several centuries. Surrounding the castle are a mausoleum, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum and two small temples. Created in the 17th century, the neatly restored Shikinaen Garden used to be the second residence of the king. It features beautiful wooden palace buildings and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Another attraction of Naha is Okinawa World, a theme park that presents an 890-metre long cave with some appealing stalagmite and stalactite formations as well as a touristy village and a snake exhibition. Naha also has one beach, which is clean and suitable for swimming.

Shopping enthusiasts should head to Kokusaidori, Naha’s two-kilometre long main street, which is flanked by innumerable boutiques, souvenir shops and department stores as well as several restaurants, bars and cafés. This is also a good area to check out the city’s nightlife and youth scene.

Naha offers its visitors a wide range of accommodation options to match every visitor’s preferences, including first-class hotels, pensions, bed and breakfasts and the omnipresent capsule hotels. Besides upmarket options, you will discover various budget accommodation on your Naha map, such as the famously low-priced Grace Naha Hotel, a small, spotlessly clean guesthouse run by a friendly family.

Okinawa Island can be approached by air or ferry. Naha Airport receives flights from most parts of the country, various other islands and a few international destinations including Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and Manila. Ferries link Naha with several ports on Honshu and Kyushu, such as Tokyo (44 hours), Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, Nagoya and Kagoshima.

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