In fact Okinawa is also the setting for the final climactic scenes of my debut novel, Gold of the Rising Sun. During our time in Okinawa, I wrote copious notes about what I saw in the islands as well as various descriptions of the airports, roads, the abundant nature we observed and the magnificent beaches and ocean. This was so I could portray Okinawa more accurately in my book.
Okinawa is the southern-most prefecture in Japan, consisting of hundreds of islands stretching between Taiwan and the Japanese island prefecture of Kyushu. The four main islands of Okinawa are the Okinawan mainland, with its capital city of Naha, and further to the south are Miyako, Ishigaki and Iriomote islands.
The Okinawan islands were once collectively known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, and had close ties to China initially. Japan invaded the kingdom in the 1600s, and Okinawa officially became a prefecture of Japan in 1879 during the Meiji era.
Mandy and I originally planned to travel to Okinawa in the summer of 2006, to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, but a sudden and rather powerful typhoon forced us to postpone our trip. As it turned out, the spring of 2007 was remarkably warm and so we traveled to Okinawa during spring break. Fortunately, due to the higher temperatures, the beaches had been opened for swimming season earlier than usual.