Okinawa Island Guide

Everything on Okinawa Island from A to Z | Sports Island Okinawa

Okinawa Island Guide

Sports Island Okinawa



The island keeps you active throughout the year

Taking advantage of the subtropical climate with an average annual temperature of 23.2 degrees Celsius, major sporting events such as marathons and triathlons are held from autumn through spring in Okinawa. In Okinawan sporting events, contenders enjoy courses along the beautiful coastline, running next to emerald green waters, racing through fields filled with sugarcane swaying in the breeze and sprinting amongst colorful tropical flowers dotting the beautiful natural scenery.

One of the highlights of sporting events held in Okinawa is the support afforded the participants, often involving eisa and lion dance performances by local groups. In addition, a number of volunteers offer food and drink, such as brown sugar and other local specialties, to participants during the races, in a display of Okinawan hospitality. In recent years Okinawan marathon events, in particular, have grown in popularity, attracting an increasing number of runners from all over the country. For example, the number of entries in the Naha Marathon, one of the biggest such events on the island, held annually on the first Sunday of December, exceeds capacity as soon as registration opens. Another surprising fact is that there are some 20 senior runners over 70 years of age among the Naha Marathon finishers each year.

Okinawa plays host to some of the country's top-class sporting events, such as the All-Japan Triathlon held every year on Miyako Island and the Tour de Okinawa. There are also some very unique runs that you can find only in Okinawa, among which are the Okinawa Marathon, known for its unusual course that includes Kadena Air Base, and the Iheya Moonlight Marathon, which takes place at night, allowing participants to enjoy running in the moonlight. Major sporting events in Okinawa are almost always followed by a party where participants and locals come together to enjoy food, drink and entertainment. Relaxation facilities, such as hot springs and izakaya located near the event venue become packed with athletes from home and abroad, creating a fun, lively atmosphere around the entire area.

As part of the Sports Tourism Promotion Strategy of Okinawa Prefecture, a variety of new sports-related events have been held over the last few years. In 2012 Okinawa played host to the All Japan Cycling Challenge, a nationwide road bicycle racing event, featuring the longest one-day bike race in the country (260 kilometers), a unique course that runs past UNESCO World Heritage sites and places of cultural interest on the island (30 kilometers) and more course options for riders of all levels. In addition, beach yoga classes and more exciting programs and activities are organized around the island by the prefecture to promote sports tourism in Okinawa.

Below is a complete list of the sporting events held in Okinawa. From full and half marathons to five-kilometer-long runs for fun, there is a wide variety of course and distance options for people of all ages and physical abilities. With the number of participants from mainland Japan and abroad continuing to rise, registration for some of the most popular races may close much earlier than originally scheduled; you are strongly encouraged to submit your entry as early as possible. You haven't experienced Okinawa completely until you explore the joy of sporting activities in the island's nature rich settings!


okinawa_sports_6180 okinawa_sports_012

Race participants can experience the warm hospitality of the local Okinawans offering water along the course. The sight of spectators cheering runners on with exciting performances is unique to Okinawan competitions.




naha_marathon_6175Naha Marathon

Date: First Sunday in December
Place: Southern Okinawa
Category: Full marathon (49.195 km)
Entry requirements: 16 years old and up
Registration: Starts four months prior to the event on the first Monday in August
Participant capacity: 25,000
>>> Official website

*Registration may close early if the race reaches capacity.



okinawa_marathon_0197_004Okinawa Marathon

Date: Third Sunday in February
Place: Central Okinawa
Category: Full marathon (49.195 km), 10 km road running
Entry requirements: 18 years old and up
Registration: Starts in November of the year before (Registration for the Okinawa Marathon 2014: Nov. 1-Dec. 10, 2013)
Participant capacity: Full marathon 13,000; road running 2,500
>>> Official website

*Registration may close early if the races reach capacity.





chubu_trim_marathon_7016Chubu Trim Marathon

Date: Mid-November
Place: Okinawa City (Okinawa Comprehensive Athletic Park and environs)
Category: 20 km, 10 km, 5 km and 3 km runs
Entry requirements: None
Registration: Starts in mid-August through late September
Participant capacity: None
>>> Official website (Japanese)



iheya_moonlight_marathon_1Iheya Moonlight Marathon

Date: Late October
Place: Iheya Island
Category: Full marathon (49.195 km), half marathon (21.0975 km)
Entry requirements: 18 years old and up
Registration: Starts in late July through late August
Participant capacity: 1,200
>>> Official website (Japanese)

*Registration may close early if the race reaches capacity.






The ceremony after the marathon.



tour_de_okinawa_0176_001Tour de Okinawa

Date: Early November
Place: Multiple municipalities in northern Okinawa, including Nago City
Category: International road races, citizen road races, 323 km citizen touring *Visit the official website for more details.
Entry requirements: Visit the official website for information about eligibility and qualification standards for each category.
Registration: Starts in August through September
Participant capacity: 5,150 in total
>>> Official website

*Registration may close early if the races reach capacity.





triathlon_miyakojima_0186All-Japan Triathlon on Miyakojima

Date: Mid to late April
Place: Miyako Island
Category: Triathlon (swim 5 km, bike 155 km, run 42.195 km)
Entry requirements: 19-65 years old, previous triathlon experience required.
Registration: Starts in early October through late November of the year before
Participant capacity: 1,520 (includes 20 charity participants)
>>> Official website

*Registration may close early if the races reach capacity.
*Charity participants, who pay a higher participation fee than regular participants, are offered priority entry for the event.




eco_srw_1830Okinawa Eco Spirit Ride & Walk in Nanjo City

Date: Late February
Place: Southern Okinawa
Category: Riding (100 km, 50 km, 30 km, 15 km), walking (20 km, 12 km, 7 km), nordic walking (12 km, 7 km)
Entry requirements: Riding events: 9 years old and up; walking events: none
Registration: Starts in November of the previous year (Registration for the Okinawa Eco Spirit Ride & Walk in Nanjo City 2014: Nov. 8, 2013-Jan. 28, 2014)
Participant capacity: Riding events 700; walking events 1,300
>>> Official website (Japanese)

*Registration may close early if the races reach capacity.
*Participants in the walking events ages 5 and under must be accompanied by a guardian/adult; parental consent is required for minors under 18 years of age.