There are a lot of destinations in Asia that I had pictured being the place of my first trip to the continent, and Okinawa wasn’t one of them. My knowledge of it was limited, knowing that it was located in Japan and an important launching pad for the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, but not much else. But when I was recently presented the opportunity to travel to Okinawa for my first foray into Asia, I jumped at the chance. In the days leading up to my trip, and on the trip itself, I learned that Okinawa more than meets the eye. Did you know that karate originated in Okinawa? Or that Awamori, Japan’s oldest distilled liquor, hails from Okinawa? Or that Okinawa is home to internationally-acclaimed scuba diving? I didn’t either. But before I share more of my stories from the trip, I take you on a photo tour of Okinawa.

The view of Okinawa from atop Shurijo Castle

The view of Okinawa from atop Shurijo Castle

Okinawa doughnut from Makishi Public Market in Naha

Okinawa doughnut from Makishi Public Market in Naha

A jar of awamori from Zuisen Distillery in Naha

A jar of awamori from Zuisen Distillery in Naha

Hibiscus growing in front of Shurijo Castle

Hibiscus growing in front of Shurijo Castle

Tacorice, an Okinawa dish

Tacorice, an Okinawa dish resulting from U.S. presence on the island

The view from atop the Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort

The view from atop the Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort

Jar of Habushu, awamori-based liqueur

Jar of Habushu, awamori-based liqueur, thought to pass down the traits of the pit viper

A shot of habushu

A shot of habushu

Green Tea Kit Kat

If it's a Green Tea Kit Kat, it must be good for me

Gajumaru Treehouse Diner in Naha, Okinawa

Oh just a restaurant in a tree (Gajumaru Treehouse Diner in Naha, Okinawa)

Scuba diving in Naha Bay

Scuba diving in Naha Bay

Blue sea star in Okinawa, Japan

Blue sea star lying on coral reef

School of fish in Okinawa, Japan

School of fish

Okinawa fish scuba diving

Fish that look like Nemo

Blowing rings while scuba diving

Blowing rings while scuba diving

Swimming between coral reefs in Okinawa

Swimming between coral reefs in Naha Bay, Okinawa