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Flattened during WWII, the prefectural capital of Naha (那覇) is now a thriving urban center that looks like most other tidy, small-to-medium Japanese cities, except for the frequent splashes of leafy green, rows of palm trees, or glimpses of azure waters from between the modern high-rises, which make up Naha's rapidly expanding skyline.

The city plays host to an interesting mix of young Japanese holidaymakers, American GIs looking for off-base fun and a growing number of foreign tourists. The action centers on Kokusai-dōri (International Blvd), and overlooking it all from a safe distance to the east is Shuri-jō, a wonderfully restored castle that was once the home of Ryūkyū royalty.

Thankfully, Naha's unique elevated monorail, the Yui Rail, makes getting around a breeze, because driving here can be quite the nightmare: despite its size, Naha's traffic jams make for slow going.

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