The southern half of the Nansei-shotō is Okinawa-ken, which is the furthest south of Japan’s prefectures. Heading southwest, there are three main island groups in the chain.
Northernmost is the Okinawa-shotō, centred around Okinawa-hontō and the prefectural capital of Naha. Due to the large presence of American military bases, this is undoubtedly the most Westernised destination in the Nansei-shotō. Naha is Okinawa-ken’s transport hub, and is easily accessed by flights to/from the mainland and outlying islands as well as by inter-island ferries.
Located 300km southwest of Okinawa-hontō, Okinawa-ken’s middle group of islands is Miyako-shotō, which is home to the popular beach destination of Miyako-jima. This group is best accessed by direct flights from the mainland, or by plane or ferry from Naha.
The southernmost island group is the Yaeyama-shotō, a further 120km southwest, though the westernmost island of Yonaguni-jima is only 110km from Taiwan. This island group, which includes the coral-fringed island of Ishigaki and the nearby jungle-clad Iriomote-jima, is one of the top domestic tourist destinations in Japan. This group is also best accessed by direct flights from the mainland, or by plane or ferry from Naha.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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