Okinawan cuisine is big on pork, including tebichi (pigs' feet), simmered for hours in soy sauce and sake to make it soft and glutinous, and rafute, pork belly simmered in fish broth and awamori liquor. Other favorites include Okinawa soba, made with white flour instead of the mainland's usual buckwheat; and dishes made with goya (bittermelon), like stir-fried goya champuru containing tofu, pork, egg, and other ingredients. Champuru means to "mix together" in Okinawan dialect, with the ultimate example being taco rice, an adaptation of Mexican tacos (introduced by Americans stationed here) served with rice instead of tortillas. Kyutei cuisine, blending Chinese and Okinawan flavors and ingredients, originated with the Ryukyuan royal court.

Pair it with the local Orion Beer or awamori, Japan's oldest distilled liquor, introduced to the Ryukyu Kingdom from Siam (present-day Thailand) in the early 15th century and made with Thai rice. By the way, Okinawan food and drink must be healthy -- Okinawans live longer than those anywhere else in the world.

Good bets include Makishi Public Market, where food vendors sell local specialties on the second floor, and Ino Ocean View Restaurant in the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (tel. 098/48-2745), offering a buffet of Okinawan specialties daily 11:30am to 3pm for ¥1,260, along with panoramic views.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.