I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since we move 8000 miles away to live on this tiny island of Okinawa, Japan. A year ago I was having going away get togethers and watching my belongings getting packed away in various shipments, which for some meant not seeing those things for 2-3 years. It’s been a whirlwind experience and one that I both appreciate and curse all at the same time some days.
A few things I’ve learned so far since being here in Japan:
1. Things are just things. Period. In the states it’s easy to get caught up in who has a bigger house, better furniture, nicer car, etc. Living here throws all of that right out the window. We all live in the same awful military housing, with the same 1100 ish square feet with mold growing from the ceiling. It really is just stuff. We have learned to live on very little and quite honestly I’m growing to appreciate that now. Doesn’t matter where we are as long as we’re together.
2. The 100 Yen store is hands down one of the best places to shop on island. Think the US dollar store on practical crack. Seriously, you can find nearly anything in here. The Japanese are some practical people with practical items, but 2 aisles over they are some interesting people with whack-a-doo items! The girls and I love going in and exploring the goods at the 100 Yen shop, especially during the American holidays because the decorations get interpreted very interestingly!
3. I’m pretty sure there are no random lawsuits happening in this country. Coming from the land of lawsuits, we came here and saw contraptions like this and immediately remarked about all the “lawsuits waiting to happen” if this were in the United States.
4. Our Japanese hosts have been some of the most welcoming, kind and generous people I have ever met. They always have a smile for us and try to assist in any way they can. Sure, there have been some protests, but for the most part I have felt nothing but welcome from them. I think I will truly miss customer service after I leave here. Have you ever seen a worker in McDonalds in the states literally run to get your order together?! No? Come here, it happens every single time in every store.
5. Free range cats and Yakitori stands are seen almost as much on the streets as vending machines. I wish I were exaggerating when I say that drink machines are every 1/2 mile. No shortage of drink options here!
Random other facts:
*We don’t deal in pennies here. When we go into the base stores our change is rounded to the nearest nickel.
*Who knew that 40-50 kph (25-30 mph) would feel normal? Not sure what I’ll do in the states when I can go 55 mph+
*When the holiday decor comes out we buy it, instead of complaining about how early it comes out. If you wait even a second-it’s gone!
*Going through a
yellow red light is a normal occurrence, which also results in coming to a complete stop when running up to an intersection.
*I now bow more than giving a “hi” to someone I see as I’m on the street. Even Americans.
Finally, I have taken more photos with me in them than at any other point in my life. When we just get together for a meal or some drinks a camera comes out and we all turn to smile. Some of the best friends I could ever ask for in such a short period of time. You know when you have those people in your life that you’re not quite sure how you made it through without them? That’s how I feel about these ladies.