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Now a thriving urban city center, Naha was flattened during World War II. The capital of the Okinawa Prefecture that is the tropical island group sitting to the south of the mainland of Japan, today has a thriving city skyline dotted with modern high-rise buildings, the streets are choked with traffic and there is an elevated monorail to get around on. It is a playground of young Japanese holidaymakers and foreign tourists.
The center of the action happens along Kokusai-dori (International Blvd) that is 2km of bustling activity. This is where you will find the clubs, the bars, a plethora of restaurants and hotels plus every conceivable souvenir shop you can think of with many selling the traditional lion-dog ceramic figurines associated with the district. Lording over this mass of hysteria is the stunning restored castle of Shuri-jo that was once the home of the Ryukyu Kingdom royalty that reigned from the 1400s-1800s. These were the clever folks that invented the martial art of karate.
The Makishi Public Market overflows with displays of fresh fish, meat and produce stands and is a sight to behold amidst the cacophony and colors of the locals going about their daily business. This is the perfect place to get up close and personal with real Japan and let your senses loose. For the foodie this is heaven to take in the vast array of aromas and the produce on display. Just outside of the market is where you will find what once was the major ceramic production center of Tsuboya (aka pots and jars).
The museum buffs can meander around the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and pick up some information about the area's art, history and natural history. If you are in the mood for a bit of serene temple moments then head to the Tensonbyo Taoist temple or the Confucian Temple Shiseibyo for your moments of Zen.
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