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Izena
伊是名村
Location of Izena in Okinawa
Area
 - Total 15.42 km2 (6 sq mi)
Population
(January 31, 2008)
1,764
 - Density 114.40/km2 (296.3/sq mi)
City Symbols
 - Tree Ubamegashi (Quercus Phillyraeoides)
 - Flower Rhododendron simsii
Website Izena official website in Japanese
Phone number 0980-45-2001
Address

1203 Aza Nakada, Izena-son, Shimajiri-gun, Okinawa-ken
905-0695

Izena Island

Izena (伊是名村 Izena-son ?) is a village occupying Izena Island in the north of Okinawa, Japan (though administered as part of Shimajiri District). There are five villages of about equal size and population located on the island: Izena, Nakada, Shomi, Uchihana, and Jicchaku (also called Serikyaku).

Izena's primary claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of King Shō En, the first king of the second Ryūkyū dynasty. It is also the birthplace of the contemporary artist Naka Bokunen and musician Irei Shunichi (伊禮俊一).

As of 2008, the island has an estimated population of 1,764 and a density of 114 persons per square kilometer. The total area is 15.42 km² (5.95 mi²).

The island is accessible by a ferry that makes two daily round trips between Nakada Port and Unten Port in Nakijin Village, which is located North of Nago on Okinawa's main island. The ferry trip takes approximately one hour. Izena also has an airfield, though daily service to the island by airplane was halted in 2007.

The island's topography features a row of mountains spanning from the northwest to the southeast of the island, with generally flat, arable land covering the remainder. The island has several sandy beaches and designated camping areas with bathroom facilities. The view of Izena's rocky southern coastline is well known as one of Japan's best, with the rock formations 'Umi Gitara' and 'Riku Gitara' dramatically rising from the land and sea.

Izena's main crops are sugar and the edible seaweed mozuku, but there are also several rice paddies and a livestock farm. From December through March, sugar is harvested and processed at a refinery on the island before being exported. There is an awamori distillery in Izena Village that produces varieties of the beverage with 20% and 30% alcohol content.

Commerce on the island is limited to a small grocery store, gas station, farmer's market, and building supply store operated by the Japanese government, independently-owned convenience stores, restaurants, and bars in each of the island's 5 villages, and several hotels along the beach and in the island's center. There is a scuba diving shop in Nakada Village open in the summer that provides equipment and tours.

There are a junior high school and an elementary school, both located near the center of the island and serving all five villages. After graduating from junior high school, students move to mainland Okinawa if they wish to attend high school. In the sense that they no longer live together, the island's youth become independent from their parents at 16 years old. As of 2009, the average size of each grade is 26 students.

Izena Island hosts an annual triathlon, the Izena 88 (2km swim + 66km bike + 20km run) in the Autumn, participation of which (in 2007) was numbered at around 830. There is also a kids' triathlon for island residents on the day preceding the main race.

Izena is one of only a handful of places in Okinawa that was not ravaged by American and Japanese military forces during World War II. Though fighting and approximately 50 civilian deaths occurred on Iheya Island, Izena's close neighbor to the North, and a massacre of hundreds of civilians occurred on Ie Island to the South, armed forces did not land on Izena.

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