The tropical Japanese island of Okinawa is characterised by turquoise seas, white sands and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Located within an archipelago of 160 islands in the East China Sea, close to Taiwan, Okinawa has long served as a bridge in connecting countries, people and wisdom. Its culture is a fusion of Japanese, Chinese and Western ways that contrast to the modernity of mainland Japan and tech-obsessed Tokyo. More than 1,000 MICE events take place in the bustling capital of Naha and its surrounding areas each year, with planners drawn by an array of unusual venues, international conference hotels and memorable experiences.
Millions of years in the making, the Valley of Gangala is a dramatic limestone cavern set amid a primitive ancient forest with impressive 150-yearold banyan trees. A short drive from Naha Airport, the valley is also a working excavation site that has unearthed pre-historic relics from 18,000 years ago. A guided nature trail of ten or 30 minutes can be arranged for groups, followed by an aweinspiring gala dinner for 100 guests inside the majestic and beautifully lit cave.
Discover the distinctive cultural heritage of the former Ryu- kyukingdom at its oldest castle, Katsuren-Jo- . After a tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and a mesmerising sunset, host a banquet beside the castle walls with an Okinawan-style music performance. Stone steps, descending from the top of the castle, serve as an ideal stage for awards ceremonies. Company logos can also be projected onto the castle walls using projection mapping.
Fukushu- en Garden is an enchanting Chinese garden with traditional architecture, a striking waterfall, bridge and lake. Expect street-food stalls serving Taiwanese cuisine with Okinawan ingredients as well as Ryu- kyudance and music.
Immerse your guests in the underwater world at Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium by seating them beside the vast dazzling blue Kuroshio Sea tank, which showcases whale sharks and giant manta rays. The space can accommodate 70 party-goers for dinner or 100 standing.
Less than an hour from bustling Naha is Ishikawa Multipurpose Dome, a colosseum-style bullring with 3,500 seats, and the Southeast Botanical Gardens, where up to 1,500 delegates can enjoy the tropical surroundings. Alternatively, opt for a clifftop party with sunset vistas at Gala Aoi Umi, or a peaceful gathering at the UNESCO World Heritage Zakimi-Jo- Site. For parties, or the airport transfer, exclusively hire Okinawa’s only railway – the Yui Rail, which offers Instagrammable views of Shuri Castle.
Okinawa has a wide choice of international hotels with extensive conference facilities. In 2018, Hilton opened the 160-room DoubleTree by Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort, adjacent to the 346-room Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort, which opened five years ago. For meetings there are five suites, including a ballroom for 400 delegates, plus a terrace for 450 al fresco diners.
The ANA InterContinental Manza Beach Resort occupies a scenic coastal spot surrounded by emerald sea. The 400-room property has multiple meeting rooms, including a ballroom for up to 521 guests. Opt for a fireworks display as part of your package for a stand-out finale.
Halekulani Okinawa is a luxury fivestar beachfront property with 360 oceanview rooms, four restaurants and spa. A dividable meeting room can cater for 200 people theatre-style or 100 for a gala dinner.
On a lush private island, on the west coast of Okinawa, sits ultra-luxe Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island. This tranquil resort has 320 bedrooms, an infinity pool and spa, plus function spaces for up to 80 people. On the picturesque Cape Busena in Nago lies The Busena Terrace. The sprawling resort has 392 bedrooms, a private beach, eight restaurants, seven shops and a meeting room suitable for 200 conference-goers.
For beer-lovers, pick Chatan Harbor Brewery and Restaurant, a chic boat-cruise experience featuring a local brewery, marine sports, restaurant and events space for 280 people.
History fans will enjoy learning about the island’s role in World War II at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, as well as a recreated village at Ryu- kyu- Mura. This small cultural theme park offers team-building experiences such as a Ryu- kyu- costume and craft workshop, pottery, painting, weaving and playing the sanshin, a traditional Okinawan stringed instrument.
Another historical attraction is Old Ryu- kyuMinister’s Residence Jana Tei. The former film set provides craft workshops, a hot spring, hotel and conference room for 100 delegates.
Ishigaki Yaima Village depicts a traditional Yaeyama streetscape where groups can practice Okinawan percussion instruments, stringed instruments and dances before performing together. A kayak trip around the mangroves and a stargazing tour are also available. Book an elegant morning cruise with Bay Cruise Miyakojima Mont Blanc, where groups can spot sea turtles, fish and coral reefs through ‘aqua view’ windows on the bottom deck.
To find out more, contact Ms Yasuko Kochi, email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.mice.okinawastory.jp/en/