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Learn About Okinawa

Animals and Plants

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The complex geographical features of many islands under the mild and rainy subtropical ocean climate created Okinawa’s unique natural environment. In particular, everyone is moved by the beautiful ocean where vividly colored tropical fish swim around coral reefs. Furthermore, the old growth forest of subtropical plants and magnificent mangroves are other examples of the allure of Okinawa's nature.

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Ocean

The oceans of Okinawa are so transparent that you can peer down at the bottom of the ocean from the surface. In addition, the warm Kuroshio Current, also known as the Japan Current, flows in the ocean of Okinawa making for a splendid environment for coral. It is said that the ocean of Okinawa is home to approximately 200 of the world’s 800 species of coral. Coral that has grown into the most complex shapes are the best homes for fish, shellfish, and prawns, etc. Everyone will find the vivid colors of the fish among the colorful coral amazing.

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Forests

The forests of Okinawa are symbolized by Iriomote Island and “Yanbaru” which is a forest of the Northern Main Island. Yanbaru has dense stands of the subtropical evergreen broadleaf "Itajii" trees (evergreen oak) and is the natural home to as many as 1250 species of plant including many endangered plants. Japan’s largest mangrove forests can be found on Iriomote Island and indigenous species such as “Iriomote-gaya” (Chikusichloa brachyanthera) can be seen here. Okinawa is and always has been a paradise filled with plants since ancient times.

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Rare Animals

Yanbaru and Iriomote Island are treasure troves of rare animals. The Yanbaru kuina (Okinawan Rail), a flightless bird, Japan’s largest beetle the Yanbaru-tenaga-kogane (Gold beetle), and the “Iriomote Yamaneko”(Iriomote cat)”, etc. are well known protected species that were, surprisingly, only discovered recently. Even today, Okinawa is recognized by the world for the biological miracles that may still lie hidden on its islands.