Centrally located on the island of Okinawa in Japan, the city of Okinawa is the second-largest city in the region after the Okinawa Prefecture’s capital, Naha. The city has a population of about 140,000 people. Okinawa city, along with its neighboring cities on the island of Okinawa, is a popular destination for travelers who come to Japan for business reasons, especially for members of the United States military, who frequently book flights to Okinawa.
The island is home to many United States military service members and their families. Several United States military installations are located within the city limits of Okinawa and at other locations on the island. These include the Kadena Air Force Base and Kadena Ammunition Storage Area; Camp Hansen, Camp Foster, and Camp Courtney, run by the United States Marine Corps.; Camp Lester and Camp Shields, run by the United States Navy; the Awase Communication Station; and Fort Buckner and the Naha Military Port, managed by the United States Army.
Although the island is home to several small and mid-size airports due to its large U.S. military presence, most commercial flights to Okinawa arrive at Naha International Airport (OKA), located in Okinawa’s capital city of Naha. All Nippon Airways operates an important air cargo center for the island at Naha International Airport. The airport is also the hub for Peach airlines and Japan Transocean Air. Although it is one of Japan’s smaller airports, Naha International Airport serves approximately 18 million travelers each year.
Passengers who arrive on flights to Okinawa, Japan, have a few different options for ground and water transportation to take them to their final destinations. The Okinawa Urban Monorail system maintains a station at the airport which offers service to several of the island’s cities and suburbs. A handful of private bus companies offer service to and from Naha International Airport including Toyo Bus, Naha Bus, and Okinawa Bus. And ferry service is also available from the airport to some of Okinawa’s surrounding islands including le Shima, Aguni, and Zamami.
Many of the leisure travelers who book flights to Okinawa from the United States have Japanese heritage. From the West Coast of the United States, the most frequent flights to Okinawa are from LAX (Los Angeles) and other large cities such as San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA), where there are large populations of Japanese Americans.
Although there is a large U.S. presence there, the island of Okinawa and its surrounding smaller islands continue to honor and celebrate their centuries-old Japanese heritage and culture. Several large cultural festivals are held on the islands each year, including a Cherry Blossom Festival in Okinawa, held in late January and early February; the Ryukyu Dynasty Festival, held on the island of Shuri in November; and the Okinawa Naha Hari Festival, held in May.
Some of the travelers who book cheap flights to Okinawa attend football (soccer) games hosted by Okinawa’s home team, FC Ryukyu. FC Ryukyu plays their home games at the island’s Tapic Kenso Hiyagon Stadium, located in the city of Okinawa. The stadium has a capacity of 25,000.
Due to Okinawa’s large American presence, basketball is also a popular sport there. The island’s professional basketball team, the Ryukyu Golden Kings, are members of Japan’s B. League, the country’s top professional basketball organization.