Japan Okinawa tropical paradise

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Japan - The new Hawaii
How the islands of Okinawa are becoming the queen of the Pacific
Photos: Alessandro Gandolfi
They are already calling it "the new Hawaii": Okinawa, the tropical paradise for vacationing Japanese, the group of islands that, reaching almost 10 million tourists last year, in terms of visitors has surpassed the American archipelago. But the objective is even more ambitious: Okinawa wants to become the uncontested queen of the Pacific and arrive at 12 million visitors by 2020, the year of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Famous for the 1945 battle of the same name, Okinawa is also famous for being a so-called "blue zone", an area with a particularly long-lived population. The high number of centenarians is connected to various factors, including their lifestyle and a particularly healthy diet; elements which, together with the beaches, landscapes, and coral reefs (but also its strategic position, low-cost flights, rapid entrance procedure, and high number of cruise ships which stop there), attract tourists from China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and, above all, Japan itself. Which considers these remote southern islands known as Ryukyu - with its own language and traditions, annexed to the country of the rising sun only in 1879 - to be a particularly exotic destination.
Japan Okinawa tropical paradise
International photojournalism