I think for most of us, the most significant meaning of Okinawa is the Battle of Okinawa. It was a 82-day long battle just before the end of WWII in 1945. All together, Japan lost 100,000 troops and Allies suffered more than 50,000. After 1945, Okinawa was under US administration till 1972, when US returned the islands to Japanese administration. But little has been know to us that Okinawa is an independent country for over 1000 years. It was a tributary nation of China till it was annexed by Japan in 1870. Countless life of island people were lost during WWII. Even today, Japanese Emperor dares not to set foot on the island. Neither the present emperor nor his father has formally apologized to the island people. Shuri castle was the formal capital of Ryukyu Kingdom of Okinawa built in late 1300s. It was completely destroyed in 1945. It was rebuilt in 1992. The Shureimon Gate is a symbol of Okinawa. The writing on the gate means "A Nation with Good Manners" was given by Chinese King to Ryuku Kingdom. I dramatize the picture a bit in memory of the Battle of Okinawa.
Here is a normal look of the gate. We were visiting Okinawa on a company trip last December. 75% of the island is still US military base, the other 25% is under Japanese administration. On the highway we can see the US base behind the barbed wire. It was hard to tell which side is inside of the cage.
A lovely Okinawa girl in perfect pose inside of the Shuri castle.
The tour was well organized, we ate in several local restaurants that few tourists visited. Here is a perfect Japanese house in one of the restaurant. Click on the photo to see the detail inside of the house and the reflection on the door. This is my HDR image without the HDR-look.
The sky and ocean was amazingly Blue. It was so peacefully calm, and it was hard to imagine what the marines on the landing craft thought when they first saw the same image some 55 years ago.
We also had the chance to visit an underground cave. It is not the world grandest, but quite interesting.
Of course, we also visited the world famous Churaumi Aquarium.
The Deep Blue Kuroshio tank took us right to the botton of the ocean, with its giant whale sharks and manta rays.
The water tank is spread out over three floors. Through the glass we could have some close encounters with many colorful tropical fish.
Here is a lionfish, the only one that I know the name.
It was not too easy to photograph them. Both focusing and white balance were difficult. We have to do some adjustment to the RAW images on the computer to bring out the true brilliant color.
Have I seen you in Chinese restaurants?
There is also a giant sea turtle tank. I have seen a sea turtle in the open ocean during one of the diving trip in Hawaii. They have so many in the tank and some look really old.
Here is a final look of the aquarium building that housed the Kuroshio tank. It is a B&W HDR image.