Sitting in the East China Sea, Okinawa is as tropical as Japan gets. It’s the farthest island of the nation thrown all the way to the south (Tokyo is almost 1,000 miles away), with beautiful beaches, a blessed climate, and a Ryukyu (indigenous) culture all its own. Good MICE venues in Okinawa are scattered all around, and the presence of an American army base means English is widely spoken.
Naha City is the principal destination of Okinawa, and three miles west of the city of Naha is Naha Airport (OKA), Okinawa’s principal portal. It has service to all the major Japanese cities, as well as to international destinations such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Shanghai.
Chief among local MICE venues, the Okinawa Convention Center has a seaside setting in the Ginowan City district and facilities that include an exhibition hall for 5,000 persons, a 1,840-seat theater and 18 meeting rooms.
Okinawa MICE hotels include the 448-room Southern Beach Hotel & Resort Okinawa, which has the Coral Grande Ballroom and the architecturally innovative, raised SeaShell Blue, which is often used for weddings and can host up to 60 persons; the 417-room Loisir Naha, which has 10 function rooms, including a hall for 1,000 persons and three banquet rooms for 180, 120 and 70 persons, respectively; the 397-room ANA InterContinental Manza Beach Resort, which occupies its own tiny island and has two function areas for up to 180 persons; the 396-room Nikko Alivila, which has a stunning beach, a banquet room for 120 persons and a room with ocean views for 60; and the 260-room Mercure Okinawa Naha, which has two meeting rooms, the largest able to host up to 160 persons.
Places on the island of Okinawa able to host private events include Bankoku Shinryokan, where its Summit Hall has room for 184 persons, its Ocean Hall has space for 195 and its Cafe Terrace can cater to 28 seated persons, all coming with ocean views; Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, with the Kuroshio tank so large it houses whale sharks, the largest fish so far discovered and which for private events has gallery space beside that massive tank, Ocean Culture Museum, Okichan Theater, Tropical Dream Center, with a large greenhouse with succulents and tropical plants, and the beautiful Emerald Beach; Gangara Valley, known in Japanese as Gangara-no Tani, a spectacular cave system deep in Okinawa’s jungle that has excellent lighting and, close to the entrance, Cave Cafe,” also natural, which can host up to 100 persons at umbrella’d tables; Suitenrou Bettei, a beautiful, colorful hall that showcases Ryukyu culture and has space for up to 500 persons and 220 for banquets; and, to get out farther into the islands close to and beautiful blue surrounding Okinawa, the Moby Dick cruise boat (operated by West Marine), which has a restaurant deck for 200 persons and an open deck for 100.
Restaurants on Okinawa able to host groups include ornate Tobarama, which has a main dining room but also outside thatched dining huts, space for up to 250 diners in Tuvan Rama Hall and local music and menu; in Naha City, Captain’s Inn, which has a Japanese and Okinawan menu, room for 130 persons and a chef cooking and preparing in the middle of each table area; in the northern area of Okinawa, in Tamemata Nago City, Okinawa Fruits Land, which does have a museum on fruit but also butterfly and bird gardens, meeting rooms and a restaurant with Japanese cuisine with space for up to 500 persons; Bollywood Dreams, which celebrates the Indian movie industry, prepares a relevant menu, contains a few private rooms and has overall space for up to 52 persons; and, again in Naha City and next to Shurijo Castle, Ashibiuna, which might be the picture-perfect Japanese restaurant, with pretty but not overstated greenery, a sand garden and a menu worthy of it all.