In the East China Sea, to the south of Japan, the prefecture of Okinawa encompasses 160 islands with a wonderful tropical climate. It is also one of the five Blue Zones, in which people are the tallest and brightest.
Cobra Kai star Ralph Macchio filmed scenes for season three on the rich island of Okinawa — the birthplace of karate and the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II for a few days.
He was struck by the clear air and the calm wind while taking in the stunning panoramic views of the mountains and the gorgeous beaches. During his short journey, “which remained constant, he was embraced by the insular peoples, often described as the happiest in the world, with an extraordinary length and expectation of life.” He stayed with Macchio Ryukyu Onsen Senagajima Hotel (from $150 per night), a hot spring bath popularly known as an onsen. He says that visiting the “Land of Miyagi” was almost spiritual for me.
Because the country was closed to tourists until October 2022, the latest properties and experiences in Okinawa are mostly undiscovered outside of Japan.
In 2020, Okinawan Hoshinoya (from $1,005 a night) opens onto Yomitano Street with local Gusuku stone walls, ocean panoramas and technical coral reefs in front. The 100 rooms and villas have low-profile patios and contemporary design that look hyperlocal to cultural heritage, such as traditional Okinawan painting. The cuisine is fresh and comes from “farms of the sea”. Horseback riding on the beach, Ryukyu martial arts, and local lessons sanshin All musical instruments are available.
It is forty-five minutes north Halekulani Okinawa (from $559 a night), a stop at the famous Halekulani in Waikiki. It opened in 2019 and offers private helicopter transfers from the airport, appealing to its Japanese film industry, musician and athlete guests. The top-secret accommodations are five cliff-like asylum villas with heated pools and natural hot spring baths (onsen), from $2,374 a night. Restaurant Shiroux is a locally based restaurant led by two-Michelin star chef Hiroyasu Kawate, and brings together two exclusive experiences within the recently designated UNESCO World Heritage Site Yanbaru National Park, where guests can try Japan’s favorite activity of river boarding. which sawanobori
Taketomi is a charmingly low-lying island of only three villages (and no airport; it’s reached by ferry from Ishigaki Island) with a beach of star-studded coral sand, a water slide, and a local banjo-like instrument called the sanshin. the island Hoshinoya Taketomi (from $827 a night) is a 48-villa upscale retreat where a charming 94-year-old resident teaches guests mat weaving, one of the many practices of tizawa, aka craftsmanship in the local dialect. General manager Jumpei Kataoka says that guests are “able to connect with traditions that have gone unchanged for centuries. The residents welcome guests and let them know the island is alive as they want to know it.”
Also on offer for a limited time: the Iriomota Island Jungle Butler experience on a small island that involves kayaking through Japan’s largest boat and trekking into the remote jungle where the wild Iriomotes live safely. “To round off the day, travelers can participate in a nightly breathing ritual and find serenity in the stars,” adds Kataoka, as she “is the first region in Japan to be designated to preserve the dark sky – the Milky Way, the Seven Sisters and other star clusters shine from Taketomi!”
A version of this story first appeared in the March 29 issue of Hollywood magazine. Click here to subscribe.