Okinawa is the south part of Japan, it is actually closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, 45mn flight to Taipei, 2h30 to Tokyo!!
ANA has a large share of the flights to Okinawa, followed by JAL. there are a few low cost carriers as well from Tokyo mostly. Of course, you may connect from anywhere in Japan to Okinawa but also from Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul etc. into Naha, the main city in the main island, Okinawa Island.
Okinawa is over 100 islands but not only have people living on them.
There is a strong and unique history as the island once was a kingdom and is the last addition to Japan, in the recent history, the island was taken over by the Kagoshima people and then became Japanese. However, in 1945, the US took control of the region and the land was only given back to Japan in 1974, which implies that infrastructures did not grow at the same pace as the rest of the country and so, with the 1st oil crisis in 1973, the timing was not great and you can definitely feel that Okinawa did not benefit from the same economic boom as the rest of the country.
Okinawa is also the island with the highest demographic growth, the lowest average income, the highest level of poverty and social challenges.
The islands mostly live from agriculture and tourism. Tourism expanded as of 1974. JAL and ANA launched flights, Japanese people wanted to explore and visit the natural beauty of Okinawa once the region was given back. Both airlines therefore built hotels to accomodate the travellers.
Nowadays, there is a new wave of expansion, with many hotel extensions, new hotels, luxury properties in Ishigaki due to the boom of inbound tourism and senior travellers growing at fast pace in Japan.
I could only stay 2.5 days for work purposes but was overwhelmed by the many histories and differences with Japan. I learnt a lot in this little time and will investigate further
to be continued…