I was just poking around YouTube, and happened upon this series, “Okinawa: A Journey of Discovery.” It is, I think, produced in part by the Okinawa Prefectural Government, and it is indeed rather touristy and cheesy in some respects – the series follows a group of seven Westerners with no previous experience/knowledge in Japan at all (let alone Okinawa), learning about Okinawa largely from the perspective of simply being interested, open-minded, travelers on a cool vacation.
So, yeah, it sort of has a “reality TV” feel, of these seven young people just having an adventure, and facing various “challenges” on each episode. The series also reinforces the image of Okinawa as tourist destination, as vacation destination, and I suppose that’s the point… but, at least it’s not emphasizing the resorts and beaches, but rather, devotes episodes to music, dance, food, and so forth. I wish they had spent more time (or, indeed, any time at all) on the history. But, I suppose in a series like this you want to only show the positive parts – nothing negative, political, or controversial.
In summary, it’s hardly my ideal video series on Okinawa. At the end of the whole thing, we get the impression that the travelers have simply had a really good time, in an exotic and fun location, but not that they’ve necessarily learned anything truly deep about appreciation for Okinawan culture, indigenous struggles, issues of maintaining or reviving traditional arts… But, still, shallow & superficial though the series is, we rarely see anything at all about Okinawa in English, so, as a basic introduction, it certainly has some value. If you’re interested, go check it out – you should be able to find links to each episode easily from each other one.