Getting there: Japan, Thai, North West and United Airlines all fly directly into Osaka's Kansai International. Domestic flights fly from Osaka to the islands.
Entry requirements: U.S. and Canadian citizens may enter with a valid passport if staying less than 90 days.
Time: GMT plus 9 hours
Climate: Because it's in the subtropics Okinawa has mild winters and hot summers. Average air temperature is 72Â°F (22Â°C), with the highest average at 77Â°F (25Â°C) in summer and the lowest at 68Â°F (20Â°C) in winter. The rainy season falls around June and typhoons are most likely to occur during summer.
Water temperature: Ranges from 72Â°F (22Â°C) in winter to 86Â°F (30Â°C) in summer.
Best months to visit: Year-round although April/May and October/November when it offers comfortable climates with less humidity.
Language: Japanese. Little English is spoken on the islands so a bilingual guide is useful.
Accommodations: Accommodations on the larger islands range in type and price from luxury all-inclusive resorts to camping. On the outer islands hotels are typically modest, family-run operations, simple and clean with private amenities. Japanese style bedding (futon on tatami mats) or western beds are available.
Electricity: 100 volts A.C., 50 Hz (Tokyo and eastern Japan), 60 Hz (western Japan), 2-flat-pin plug.
Water: Tap water is safe to drink.
Money: The yen (110 yen = U.S.$1). Credit cards are not accepted on the outer islands so purchase yen before traveling.
Tipping: A 10-15% service charge is often included at hotels and restaurants. Gratuity is not encouraged throughout Japan. Gift giving is appreciated.
Getting around: On Okinawa Island car rental is useful. On the outer islands, your hotel or tour operator will usually provide transportation. Cars, motorcycles and bicycles can also be rented. Driving is on the left side and an international license is required.
Written by Lisa Slater and Lee Cowan
Originally published in Dive Training Magazine October 2004
For tours and detailed information about travel to Japan contact Open Coast
Tel: 866.628.3425 Toll Free, 310.433.6653 Main
Web site: www.opencoastravel.com