Kerama Islands

The Kerama Islands (慶良間諸島, Kerama-shotō, Okinawan: キラマ Kirama) are a group of islands located 32 kilometres (20 mi) southwest of Okinawa Island in Japan. Historically, the Kerama Island group was a part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. For some 600 years, the islanders were employed as skillful navigators for the Kingdom’s trading vessels between Okinawa and China.[2]

Kerama Islands
Native name:
Kerama-shotō (慶良間諸島)
Map of the Kerama Islands
Geography
LocationPacific Ocean
ArchipelagoOkinawa Islands
Total islands36
Major islandsTokashiki Island, Zamami Island
Area35.97 km2 (13.89 sq mi)
Administration
Japan
PrefectureOkinawa Prefecture
Demographics
Population1,625 (October 2010)
Pop. density45.2 /km2 (117.1 /sq mi)
Official nameKeramashoto Coral Reef
Designated8 November 2005
Reference no.1546[1]

Four of the islands are inhabited: Tokashiki Island, Zamami Island, Aka Island, and Geruma Island.[3] The islands are administered as Tokashiki Village and Zamami Village within Shimajiri District.[4] The Kerama-shotō coral reef is a Ramsar Site.[5]

During World War II and preliminary to the Battle of Okinawa, soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division landed in the Kerama Islands on March 26, 1945. Further landings followed, and the Kerama group was secured over the next five days. Kerama was used as a staging area for the assault on Okinawa. During the battle the first civilian mass suicides that later marked the Battle of Okinawa took place.

The first US Navy ship to anchor in the harbor was USS Makin Island, a small "jeep" carrier.

It was the site of a true story about romance between two dogs who lived on neighboring islands that was made into the 1988 Japanese film I Want to See Marilyn (Marilyn ni Aitai).[6] It is now a popular beach and diving destination for visitors to Okinawa.

Transportation

The Kerama Islands are served by the Kerama Airport, located on Fukaji Island.[7] Regular ferries are also available from Naha to the three largest islands, Aka, Zamami, and Tokashiki. Ferries between the islands are also available, as are boat tours.

References

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