The Secret of Longevity Okinawa  Article cover photo
08 March 2017

The Secret of Longevity Okinawa

Find the restorative sights of longevity and history of the island that the longest living people on earth live on

Longevity, the coveted blessing of Okinawans who have long lived a stress-free, spiritual and communal lifestyle. Much can be said about the quiet island located in the southernmost part of Japan which houses some of the world’s most beautiful sights. While scientists may continue to argue about the key factors which contribute to the long life of Okinawans, perhaps its rich history, wonderful sights and hospitable folk may offer a fresh perspective. Whether you’re visiting Okinawa for the melodious tunes of the local “shan-shin” banjo, its famous sweet potatoes or examining the roots of pottery, Okinawa contains a wealth of culture and experiences that are assured to bring about a renewed perspective on life.


HISTORY

Those who are privy to the history of Okinawa may know the island by its bygone name “Ryukyu” which first surfaced in the Book of Sui, the official history of the Sui Dynasty completed in 636 A.D.

The timeline of events below are the journey went through by Okinawans before The United States returns Okinawa to Japanese.

636 AD

Mention of the name ‘Ryukyu’ in the Book of Sui

1429 AD

King Sho Hashi rises to power and Shurijo Castle becomes the Ryukyu Kingdom capital

1609 AD

Ryukyu Kingdom becoming a vassal to both the Chinese and Japanese after Satsuma Rebellion

1879 AD

Ryukyu renamed to ‘Okinawa Prefecture’ after military incursions

1939 AD

World War 2 begins

1945 AD

Operation Iceberg is initiated by US troops resulting in the Battle of Okinawa
Over 122,000 Okinawans or 1/3 of the island’s populace is killed

1971 AD

The United States returns Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty through Okinawa Reversion Treaty

DIALECTS

While many may be under the assumption that Japanese is the original language of the Okinawan people, a special dialect actually exists among Okinawan people due to the influence of the Sho Dynasty before being annexed to Japan.

PHRASES

The simple guide to help you distinguish some commonly used Okinawan phrases.

Uchina

Japanese

English

Hajimiti uganabira

Hajimemashite

Nice to meet you

Mata-yassi

Mata-ne

See you again

Han sai

Ohayogozaimasu

Good Morning

Ippei-masan

Sore wa oishidesu

It’s delicious

Nifee deebiru

Arigatogozaimashita

Thank You

PLACES TO VISIT

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

The Churaumi Aquarium of Okinawa continues to be the pride and joy of Okinawa due to its massive Kuroshio exhibit and dedication to marine biology research.

The Kuroshio sea exhibit is said to contain up to 7.5 million litres of water which are held back by 60 centimetre thick acrylic glass panels. Visitors can often be seen by the droves approaching the massive glass pane to take pictures of the two whale sharks contained within the aquarium.

Shurijo Castle

Representing the heart and remnant of the Ryukyu Kingdom, the Shurijo Castle constructed around the 14th century was the political, economic and cultural heart of the Ryukyu Kingdom formed under the leadership of King Sho Hashi.

This world heritage site offers deep insights into the feudal periods of Ryukyu and was the seat of power for the Ryukyu Kingdom for about 5 centuries. The path to the castle itself is littered with many sites of interest for visitors.

Shuri Ryusen Coral Painting

Be inspired to bring forth your inner painter when you visit the Shuri Ryusen Coral Painting centre. Using naturally beached shaped corals, visitors are encouraged to let their imagination run free to bring forth beautiful designs on either t-shirts, tote bags, or head-scarfs. Painting methods here are simple. By simply tying down fabric pieces on coral shapes with rubber bands, visitors can imprint magnificent looking corals onto the fabrics with different mixtures of colour.

Himeyuri Peace Museum

The Himeyuri Peace Museum is a stark and gruelling reminder of the cost of war when 222 students and 18 teachers from the Female Division of the Okinawa Normal School and the Okinawa First Girl School were inducted into units and Okinawa Army Field Hospital. Following the invasion of the US Army into Okinawa, these students were forced into harrowing working conditions which necessitated them to take care of wounded soldiers, secure water and bury the dead.

Yomitan Village

Escape from the cosmopolitan world of sophistication and return to the simple life in Yomitan Village on Okinawa Island. Located just 28 kilometres from Naha City, Yomitan Village and its friendly homestay community are sure to draw you in with its agricultural and cultural charms.

Okinawa World

Brave the subterranean and cavernous pathways of the Gyokusendo cave located in Okinawa World which is littered with spectacular formations of stalagmites and stalactites formed over thousands of years. These remarkable stone formations only grow at a rate of 1 mm every 3 years. The temperature within the cave is a comfortable 21 degrees Celsius and only takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Grand Mer Resort



A trip to Japan without the experience of great tasting sushi is akin to visiting Germany without enjoying a brew or missing out on Swiss chocolates while in Switzerland. Like it or not sushi remains an integral part of the identity that shapes Japanese food.

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Escape Magazine is deeply grateful for JTB Malaysia in sponsoring our trip to Okinawa. For more info on travel packages to Okinawa and bookings, you can visit http://jtbmalaysia.com/.