Okinawa, Japan - Mar. 25, 2009
Okinawan culture differs in many ways from that of mainland Japan.
Numerous Okinawan languages are more-or-less incomprehensible to Japanese speakers.
These languages are in decline as Mainland Japanese is used by the younger generation.
Okinawan culture bears traces of its various trading partners.
One can find Chinese, Thai and Austronesian influences in the island's customs.
Perhaps Okinawa's most famous cultural export is karate.
Karate is thought to be a synthesis of Chinese kung fu with traditional Okinawan martial arts.
The Okinawan diet consist of low-fat, low-salt foods, such as fish, tofu, and seaweed.
This is important since Okinawans are known for their longevity.
Individuals live longer on this island than anywhere in the world.
Okinawa, Japan - Oct. 29, 2005
Okinawa is Japan's southernmost prefecture, and consists of hundreds of the Ryukyu Islands
Okinawa's capital, Naha, is located in the southern part of the largest island, Okinawa Island
Okinawa also has the highest life expectancy rate in the world
The Battle of Okinawa occured in 1945 and was the last battle of WWII
For 27 years Okinawa was under United States administration
On May 15, 1972, Okinawa once again became part of Japan
The United States still maintains a large military presence here
Okinawa supports roughly 75% of all U.S. troops in the country
Most Okinawans feel that the large presence places an undue burden on their small island
Okinawa is said to have the most beautiful beaches in all of Japan