However, due to the physical distance separating the two—not to mention the historical and cultural differences—it merits its own category.
Okinawa was a separate nation until 1879, so its language and culture differ in many ways from that of mainland Japan. Okinawa Prefecture is the southernmost prefecture of Japan. It comprises hundreds of the Ryukyu Islands in a chain over 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) long. The Ryūkyūs extend southwest from Kyūshū to Taiwan. Okinawa Prefecture encompasses the southern two thirds of that chain. Naha, Okinawa's capital, is located in the southern part of Okinawa Island. It also includes the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands which are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
It is estimated that between 1/4 and 1/3 of the civilian population perished during the 6-week Battle of Okinawa alone. It remained under the control of the US military until it reverted back to Japanese control in 1972. The majority of U.S. troops deployed in Japan are based in Okinawa even though the prefecture constitutes only 0.6% of Japan’s land area. This disproportionate presence has provided jobs for the local community, but it has also disrupted their way of life in many ways. Crimes committed by servicemen against locals have triggered many protests.
Five times as many Okinawans live to be 100 as in the rest of Japan, and Japanese are already the longest-lived ethnic group globally. According to research, their longevity is the result of a combinations of factors including their diet, low-stress lifestyle, supportive community, activity, and spirituality. The Okinawan diet consists of low-fat, low-salt foods, such as whole fruits and vegetables, legumes, tofu, and seaweed.
Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu including Shuri Castle
In 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa, it was almost completely destroyed. Beginning in 1992, it was reconstructed on the original site based on photographs, historical records, and memory.