Spend an afternoon in the excellent Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum to view a collection of prehistoric bones and fossils, learn about the fascinating history of the Ryukyu Kingdom and admire pieces from some of Okinawa’s best painters.
The museum stands in the courtyard of a striking limestone building that was modeled after an Okinawan-style castle. Look down as you cross the entranceway into the main courtyard to see the stunning coral reef that lies beneath the transparent glass floor.
Make the front hall your first stop to see exhibits describing the Ryukyu Archipelago’s formation millions of years ago. A detailed series of images explains how the volcanic islands burst from the sea. Also on display are fossils from some of the earliest whales and ammonites to inhabit the region as well as information about the first human inhabitants.
From here you will notice that a large proportion of the museum is devoted to the Ryukyu Kingdom. These rulers dominated the islands for about five centuries before being replaced by the Meiji government of Japan in 1879. Enjoy engrossing interactive video displays that detail some of the island’s greatest battles on land and at sea. Be sure to visit the experience room where you can handle traditional instruments and costumes.
Don’t leave without exploring the art gallery in a smaller building next to the main museum. This is devoted to two- and three-dimensional modern and contemporary works by several of the most prominent local artists. Step outside where you will find a sculpture garden full of colorful pieces created from plastic and metal.
The Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum is open throughout the day from Tuesday through Sunday. There is a small admission fee for all ages. Reach the museum with a 10-minute walk northwest from the Omoromachi monorail station.