I am lover of list making and I thought it would be fun to create a series where I break down some of the good and not-so-good things about Okinawa, from my perspective as an Expat, with anyone soon-to-be moving to Okinawa.
This post took me longer than expected to write, because i ran out of cons, which is good for Okinawa but not for the purpose of this post. After beating myself up for a couple of days i decided to seek out help from other military wives living here, who helped me with those last two cons! Thank you so much ladies!
Oh the simple things! One of the things i love about Okinawan restaurants is that most of them have call buttons. Meaning the waitress/waiter is not constantly checking up on you, you push the call button whenever you need help; which is brilliant if you ask me. We aren’t accustomed to having call buttons and we’ve had a couple of experiences where we wait forever for the waitress until we realize there is a button on the table and we just laugh it off.
This is the only picture i could find that would fit the topic, but when i say small sizes look beyond the McDonald’s cups please. Everything in Japan in smaller than what we’re used to in America – clothing, shoes, food portions, cup sizes, etc. Clothing – most of which comes in sizes too small or even ‘one size fits all’, thankfully i am a petite 5’0 girl that can squeeze into japanese sizes. Shoes come in Small, Medium and Large sizes, which is the oddest thing i’ve ever seen. I wear a 6.5 and here i am a Medium, enough said. Food portions are also very small in most places which is perfect for me, but not so much for my husband. When we went to Kokusai Street we ate at McDonald’s because we wanted a quick snack and i ordered a small drink… after i paid i realized that small size is miniature here.
Before living in Japan whenever Asian people would bow in movies i would think, “ugh, that’s weird” or “that would be annoying”. But now that i live here i am so thankful for this mannerism. You may be asking yourself why is she thankful for this? Well let me explain, when you live in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language, it has its set backs, but bowing allows us foreigners to show respect or thankfulness to the locals without much effort. This form of non verbal-communication gives me a sense of ease whenever i can’t communicate properly with someone.
“Okinawa has an alarming rate of homeless animals. The rate at which Animal Control kills these animals is even more alarming. This problem in Okinawa is immense, due partly to abandonment of pets by military personnel and civilians. Okinawa has one tenth of the amount of homeless animals that Tokyo does. However, the number of animals that are put to sleep in Okinawa is three times more than that of Tokyo” via OAARS. It is so sad seeing posts on social media of people giving away their pets for free because they can’t afford to take them back to the States. People have to realize how expensive it is to PCS animals before cashing up on a pet. Period.
Forget about big SUV’s and trucks, when you live on a small island all you need is a small, comfortable vehicle that can fit in those small backroads. On our first drive through Okinawa i couldn’t help but fall in love with all the miniature, colorful cars, like the Will Cypha’s pictured above. You can also find tons of pastel colored cars!! *swoon* When it came time to get a car, you bet your ass i wanted a cute one! “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. I was able to find a tiny blue Suzuki Swift, she fits everywhere and i love her because of it!
Maybe it’s because we’re on an island and everything is smushed together or maybe it’s because cars are smaller here, but one of the most annoying things is the lack of parking at restaurants here. Most restaurants have 3-4 parking spots, while others simply have none and man do i hate driving around the adjacent streets trying to find a parking spot between private houses. Especially when you can’t read Kanji and you don’t know if you’re parking illegally.
*Please keep in mind that all of these pros & cons are formed simply from my experiences and perspective as an American living abroad*
Do you currently live in Okinawa? Did you live in Okinawa at some point in your life? If so, are there any Pros and Cons you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments below! Interested in more Pros and Cons of Living in Okinawa? Read the rest of the series!