Part of the stone wall with stairs at Nakagusuku castle in Okinawa, Japan
Nakagusugu city is near a wealth of castle ruins dating back to the Ryukyu Kingdom, which had its heyday from the 1400s to the 1800s. Start off at the Katsuren Castle ruins and retrace an army's footsteps to Nakagusugu Castle (destroyed by the lord of Katsuren). It's easy to imagine the impressive structures in their prime while walking through the ancient battlements.<
View from the Okinawa sea road in Okinawa, Japan
Henza Island is connected to the Okinawa mainland via a scenic stretch of red bridge. From there, you can continue driving through to Hamahige, Miyagi and Ikei Island — stopping at beaches along the way. Pop into the Nuchi Una salt factory to see how local sea salt is made and taste dishes flavored with its mineral-rich goodness.
Naha, the capital of Okinawa, is only an hour away by car. Head there for some of the island's most iconic pieces of culture: Pay your respects at Naminoue Shrine, perched on a cliff above the idyllic ocean. Walk through the relaxing ponds and pagodas of Chinese-style Fukushu-en Garden, and a slice of Ryukyu history at reconstructed Shuri Castle.
American tastes have had a big effect on Okinawan food due to the presence of the U.S. military base here, and the result is a fusion food like you've never tried before. Cruise to Okinawa to dig into a delicious bowl of Taco Rice topped with crunchy salsa and a deep purple sweet potato tartlet. Don't forget to try the Ube (purple sweet potato) ice cream at Okinawan mainstay Blue Seal.
To get the most authentic souvenirs, venture into Yomitan Pottery Village in Yachimun. The village is home to 45 artisan potters who glaze their wares in the Okinawan style. Pick up chunky handmade fruit bowls or delicately decorated sake sets during your Japan cruise. At Kousaki Dori street in Naha, you can find some handblown Ryukyu glass to complement your collection.
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