Car modification


DISCLAIMER:

Always drive responsibly and abide by the laws and guidelines that Japan and/or your command has in place. 

I have been asked a few times about cars here in Okinawa and there is no doubt that people coming to Japan want to know about what they can get their hands on which is usually followed by what type of modifications are legal to perform on your car here. Now before we go any further there are a few things I want to get out of the way so you know the direction of this post. 1. This information goes for anyone who is planning on modifying anything on their car. That’s right. Whether you want to make your car look like something out of Fast and Furious, want to make your SUV roll through the mud and up mountains with the best of them or simply replace your headlight bulbs this applies to you. 2. This post offers information on the areas you will need to look out for but does NOT offer regulation or actual standards. If you want to know actual standards please conduct your own research and contact authorities on this matter. The reason for this? I’m not into giving out bad or outdated information. I am very aware of the basics but when it gets to the nitty gritty (which is what you are going to have to be aware of) like decibels and lumens I honestly don’t know the exact requirements as of right now and therefore it’s best if when you read this and when you choose to make your modifications  you do your own research (or suffer any potential consequences but we will get more into this later).

Let’s start from the beginning: 

Chances are if you are reading this you have not yet come to Okinawa yet and you have preconceived notions about what Okinawa will be like. If you are like many of the people who come through here (whether you want to admit it or not) you have this image of or similar to Tokyo Drift embedded in your brain and yes you’ve got that itch to get into the bucket seat of some car that you are willing to make your masterpiece. That’s completely natural I mean come on you’re about to depart for the affordable sports car capitol of the world right? Before we slip her into gear and take off down the strip there are some things that you need to keep in mind right from the get go. Okinawa does not have the hustling bustling sports car culture that some people might imagine because of what they have read, seen on YouTube or even imagined based on movies about Japan. As far as getting around here in Okinawa goes (and I speak from experience) sports cars are expensive, difficult to get around in and inefficient. It is for this reason that you won’t see many Japanese people driving their sports cars on the road, they usually have them for track use only. Now this is not to say that you never see them on the road, they are out there but it’s not like you might imagine.

Now I realize that this is about car modification here in Okinawa but I am sure that you are going to want me to explain why I just said that sports cars here are expensive, difficult to get around in and inefficient. I will go through these quickly and briefly but if you have more questions please feel free to leave a comment or email me at okininjakitty@yahoo.com and I will answer your promptly.

Expensive:

To say sports cars are expensive is much more than to say they will cost a pretty penny to purchase. In fact you may find here that it doesn’t cost much at all to purchase a car outright. This, however, doesn’t mean that the car will be affordable throughout the entire time you own it. Insurance and road tax are significantly higher on a lot of the more desirable sports cars out there. They also require a higher octane gas (if you are one of the people who is going to modify your car or has a high powered combustion engine and care about how it runs) than you can get from the on base gas stations (information based on current available gas octane os of June 30 2012.) You will also find that repairing and finding good (and I stress good here) parts for your car can also cost you a pretty penny. A lot of these cars are older and in some cases need parts special order. In other cases they can have parts replaces with newer models which are again expensive. There are also some cars out there, such as the Nissan 300zx, which requires a special mechanic to work on the engine because of it’s complexity and therefore more money is involved. Another point which we will get into later is the amount of money it takes to actually modify and maintain these vehicles.

Difficult to get around: 

If you are serious into getting a sports car it’s going to be a stick shift. I do apologize to all of those people out there who feel that an automatic is a perfectly good sports car mostly because they don’t know how to drive stick. For your own benefit learn and I promise you that you will never look at an “automatic sports car” the same way again. Trust me when I say that there is nothing like trying to drive back from Naha to Okinawa City on a Friday afternoon in bumper to bumper traffic with a stick shift let alone a stick shift with some sort of high performance clutch. I’ve been here. . . . I don’t care how much you like sports cars or what your passion is for them this is not enjoyable. This same concept goes for trying to get back home for many of us who live in areas where the size of a sports car (and to be fair a large van or SUV) is difficult to maneuver.

Inefficient:

Aside from cost usually sports cars don’t offer the same ability to get your family (which many sports car people have) from point A to point B so you’re going to need a second car and for many families here in Okinawa you might find yourself with only one parking space if any at all.

Of course these things are solely based on my opinion and for some these things may not be a problem but I am just explaining what I had said before.

Back to modifications

I think that it is safe to say that things you couldn’t modify in your home state are the same things that you are not supposed to modify here. Ride height (both too high or too low), window tint, headlights/tail lights, tires, how your wheels sit (under the car, camber) and exhaust (decibel based). It is also important that  in some rare cases you may run into a problem with adding things to your car like a roof rack or brush guard. I can’t speak too much about this because I do not off road and therefore I do not have a full knowledge but I have seen people being ticketed (by military police) for having a brush guard on their SUV even through the brush guard was stock. Again just reporting what I have been made aware of which in this case I saw first hand. With all of this said this does tnot mean that you will never see cars with these types of “illegal” modifications here on the road. So if these modifications are illegal why do people have them? It’s pretty much like anywhere else I suppose. You do what you want either until you get caught or until it’s time for an inspection.

Enforcing the rules

So how are these rules enforced? To be completely honest how these rules are enforced are greatly dependent on how you compose yourself while you are driving. For example if you are drying a heavily modified car down the road like you would drive any normal car minding your own business, obeying the traffic signals/signs the odds are that you’re going to be left alone. The only time that this is not necessarily the case is if you happen to be passing what many refer to as a safety check. To be completely honest I have never experienced one of these safety checks. I have heard about them from other people but I have not been pulled into one or even witnessed one. That being said I really can’t speak about this.

Unfortunately the chances are if you are reading this you are going to be affiliated with the military bases. Your affiliation will mean that you are going through the gates at least once each day and therefore have a much better chance of being flagged for your car not meeting the standards required to pass an inspection. It is also much more common to be ticketed for modifications on a military installation.

Conclusion

Overall there are a number of details as to what can and can’t be done to a car. My personal suggestion is to know what it is that you want to do to your car and then from there find out what your limitations are. If you are like me and prefer to stay within the limits while still doing as much modification as possible this is not out of reach. Good luck and please remember to drive responsibly.

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Buying a car in Okinawa


This topic came from a viewer who was watching a video that I had posted about buying a car in Okinawa and they asked what are some good places to buy a car from and what kind of headache is it to bring a car back? This is another fantastic question. Now I had asked this particular person what ind of car they were interested in and did not get a response back so I am going to go over a number of different car purchasing situations and hopefully one will be what you needing to get your question answered. So basically there are a few different ways to go about purchasing a car here in Okinawa. There are Military dealers who you can purchase from whether or not you are military but they usually have prices in dollars and have all English speaking staff which makes life easier. These dealers are also right outside the bases for super duper easy access. There are then the regular Japanese dealers and finally private parities. What kind of car you are looking for will determine what kind of place you will want to go in order to make the purchase.

If you are looking for a KCar then your best bet is going to be shopping at a regular Japanese dealer. There are hundreds of used car dealers here in Okinawa which will have a variety of used cars. It is important to remember, however, that here in Japan used cars are usually on the new side. What I mean is that if you are looking at a Japanese used car dealer you can expect to see (in the year 2012) cars that are 2010 and 2011 on the lot. You might find something older but the odds are you are going to find something only a few years old. From what we have noticed there is also a bit of pattern that occurs with the prices also. A 2010 will cost you approximately 1,000,000yen; a 2011 will cost approximately 1,100,000yen and so on. It is also important to remember that the prices at some of the Japanese used car dealers do not come with the mandatory inspections in the price so you will need to take that into consideration when purchasing also. There are some perks to purchasing from a Japanese used car dealer and one of those perks is that the car you purchase is going to be in new condition. The odds are this car has only had one or two owners before and you are going to get it as if you just pulled out of the manufacturer’s parking lot. Of course the downside is the price. With today’s yen rate these cars can be expensive but it is up to you to determine whether you think it is worth it or not.

If a non-turbo’ed standard car (sedan, mini van, wagon. . . . ) is what you are looking for then one of the Military dealers may be the place for you. Of course it always depends on what you are looking for and it is important to have a clear understanding of what you are looking for before you start to head over to the Military dealer. The pros of a military used car dealer is that the prices are significantly lower than the Japanese used car dealers and the cars come with the price of the inspections included. Unfortunately there is no real pattern to the pricing of the cars from a military used car dealer although you can anticipate approximately 5 to 6 thousand USD for a regular car and about 6 to 8 thousand USD for a sports car. They are also usually conveniently located within walking distance of the military bases which make them very easy to get to but unfortunately it is also one of the reasons that they are capable of taking advantage of many people. There are some big cons for using a military used car dealer but luckily a great deal of them can be avoided. The cars from these dealers are roughly in the 10 year old range (some less some more but 10 is a good round about) and a great deal of them have signs of wear a tear. It is not uncommon to have a car with a cracked windshield, dents dings or in some cases busted radiators. This is why it becomes very important for you as the buyer to take time to really inspect the car in great detail before making a purchase. Another con is that a lot of the perks which are available to you from these places have fine print attached which you might not find out about until after you have signed the dotted line. The most iconic example of this is warrantees. At most dealers if you have a car with a turbo (whether or not it is a sports car because there are other non sports cars with turbos as they are more efficient) they will not service the car. What this ultimately means is that once you drive that car off the lot regardless what happens to any part of the car the military dealer is no longer responsible. A friend of mine actually experienced this. Less than 24 hours after the purchase of the car the drivers side window stopped going down. When the car was brought back to the dealer they explained that they would not do anything about it because the car has a turbo and therefore was not covered under the warrantee. At the end of the day it is all up to what it is that you want to do. If you see something that you want and if the sale works out for you then this is a good option for you but there might be other feasible options out there for you as well.

Finally, the most anticipated car class for those coming to Okinawa sports cars. To cut to the chase you are going to most likely find yourself buying from a private seller. The reason? There is more variety from people trying to sell their cars than there is at the dealerships out in town. This is not to say that there are not dealers who have sports cars nor is it to say that there are not specialty dealers who only sell sports cars but you are going to get the most bang for your buck buying from a private party. There are some words of warning that I have about buying your sports cars here though. Let’s go over a few:

1. Know the difference between a “sporty” car and a “sports” car. A good example of this is the Nissan Skyline. Contrary to popular belief not all Skyline’s are created equal and no they are not all “sports” cars. Some are non-turbo some are not even stick. And please don’t believe the few people out there who say “non turbo but you would never know it”. Trust me you will know it. There is also an entire breed of car here that is “sporty” but don’t perform when you put the pedal to the metal. One of these cars is the B4 Legacy. Don’t let the twin turbo fool you it’s piggy back system that they put in place with those turbos don’t give you the power of a twin turbo but rather just a ton of turbo lag.

2. Don’t just see the bells and whistles and get excited. If you are looking at a car that has a laundry list of modifications it is always important to take special care before making the purchase. Take time to talk to the seller and ensure that they are able to explain all of the modifications that they have done to the car. This will give you peace of mind knowing that they were not just someone poking and prodding at the engine during the weekends. Also make sure that the car comes with all original and JCI (Inspection) parts. This could include everything from headlights, tail lights, springs, struts, down pipe, cat back exhaust, rims and steering wheel. This will ensure that when the inspection comes due on the car you will not have to purchase parts. (And yes anyone who had modified their car and has a good solid knowledge of cars here on Okinawa should still have all of these parts for you) Also consider that some sports cars have been modified to not take low octane gas meaning you will not be able to purchase your gas on base and will need to buy fuel off base for approximately $10.00 per gallon. This can be costly.

3. Know what you want out of your car. What are you going to want to do with the car? Also consider what you are required to do with the car on a daily basis. Some cars like the Mitsubishi Evolution do not have back seats that fold down potentially making it difficult to move things in the trunk where as the Nissan 300zx 2 seater has a huge trunk. Of course this might not be important to you but if you are someone who enjoys scuba or other activities where you need to take around a lot of gear this might be something to consider. Of course there is the style of “sport” car that you are looking for. From drift to drag to rally everything is available here so know what you want and you will have an easier time finding a car that you can work with.

The second part of the questions was about the headache of bringing a car back to the US . To be completely honest a few years back when we were toying with the idea of going back to the US I was planning on bring my Evolution back to the states and so I did a ton of research on this and therefore I feel that I can give you a decent answer for this one. The short answer is that sadly the odds are stacked against you and your chances of getting a car back to the US are slim. I do want to make myself completely clear here, this is not to say that people don’t do it. They do. And they get caught. This is also not to say that there are not ways to get parts of cars back to the states. That is also possible but for the sake of this post let’s talk about getting an entire car back to the US. There are four ways to get a car back to the states. The first is if the car is an antique. I do not particularly know the process for getting an antique car back to the US because I did not have one but I am 100% aware that this is the easiest way to get a car back. The second is if the car is for the purpose of race only. This method is by no means easy nor is it cheap. There are a lot of things that need to be done in order to make this happen and it starts with having a license to race in the US and having competed in a certain number of events over a period of time. These events have to be sanctioned and Okinawa’s competitions do not count (sorry). The car then has to be a special type of car which was designed to race (homologated) to prove this you have to obtain information from the car manufacturer to ensure that this is the case. This can be difficult if your car model was not released in the US. You then need to ensure that your car meets a set of standards which ensure that it is a race car. The list is incredibly long but it includes things like removing locks, removing glass (windshield needs to be replaced with shatter proof windshield, same goes for the rear, windows are to be replaced with mesh) there needs to be a fuel cell also and the list goes on. Once that has all been completed the car then needs to be shipped back to the US and inspected before it can be released to you. You then will need to prove that you are racing the car actively which is a set number of sanctioned races within a set length of time) and if you decommission your car it them has to be sent back to Japan. You are not allowed to break the car down or anything of the sort. Although this comes with a lot of rules and regulations the most troubling part about this is modifying it to be race ready. For my particular situation by the time that the car was modified so that it was accepted upon inspection prior to shipping the car back to the US we were looking almost at $10,000 to $15,000 just in parts not including the price to actually get it back.

Finally there is the ability to take a car back to the US just to drive. I must warn you this sounds ridiculous but it is all information that I received from immigrations and the people in charge over in the US. Let’s suppose you want to bring back your Skyline to the US to drive on the street. Regardless if the car is made in the states or not it needs to go through vigorous testing to ensure that it is safe to be on the roads in the US. To accomplish this you will need to provide the US with 3 more of the same exact make and model car that you plan to import. This will allow them to complete the necessary crash tests to determine whether or not your car is safe for the roads in the US. Once that is all good if the car passes the tests you then have to modify your car to make it fit within the US standards which includes changing it over to left hand side drive. This needs to be done by an approved shop in the US from start to finish. Once that is done it is then inspected again and once you have paid the bill if it is approved it’s yours.

Of course each of these items may be slightly dated because I got my information a few years ago so please consider that when you are reading. Also please consider that I have given a brief description of what I have learned over the time that I was researching taking a car back. As far as my opinion goes just getting the answers of what you need to do is a headache I cannot imagine actually going through with is. To be completely honest what is the biggest turn off for me is that amount of money that is potentially lost for the CHANCE of getting your car back to the US. With the money you spend you could be half way to your dream car.

 

Tokyo Disney: Benefits of staying in an on property hotel.


It is no secret that Disney is a world class vacation destination all over the world and Tokyo is no exception to the rule. If you are traveling through Tokyo and have any type of soft spot for Disney then you might want to check out the park and give it a little of your time. So you want to go to the Tokyo Disney Resort, now it’s time to weigh your options on where to day. Of course there are options all over Tokyo of hotels where you could stay and still enjoy the Tokyo Disney Resort but in this post I want to focus on some of the benefits of staying what is known as “on property” or at one of the Tokyo Disney Report hotels.

The first and possibly biggest benefit of staying on Disney property anywhere in the world is that you are staying as close as you can get to the action. Usually the hotels which are on property are either within walking distance from the parks or if they are not transportation is provided free of charge. In the Tokyo  Disney Resort there are three hotels which are considered within walking distance: The Miracosta, The Ambassador and The Disneyland Hotel. These three hotels also have a bus service which transports you from park to park and a monorail which does the same. Both the buss and the monorail are free of charge for those who are staying on property, however, to ride the monorail for free you will need to get a special pass from your hotel during check-in. If you are not staying on property the monorail works like any other train in Tokyo and must be paid for. The cost is not very expensive but nonetheless it is a charge that you will have to pay if you choose to use the service and are not staying on Disney property. At this time I am not familiar with that is required to use the buss. I do know that it is free for those who are staying on property but I am not sure if they use the same type of pass that is used for the monorail system.

The advantages to staying on property don’t stop at being in close proximity to the park, you also have advantages that other park guests don’t have. To visit the parks you have to purchase tickets, but don’t mistakenly purchase your tickets at the front gate, make sure you purchase you’re tickets from the hotel you are staying at. If you are staying at an on property hotel you have the ability to purchase special tickets which allow you to enter the park before everyone else and they also allow you to reenter the park even if they have reached max capacity. This means that if you choose to go back to your room over lunch to get out of the hot summer sun you are guaranteed to be let back into the park when you return and won’t be turned away. This is a great advantage because it allows you to take advantage of the fact that you have a room within walking distance of the parks.

The perks continue in the park as well. Want to purchase fun an interesting things you see in the park but don’t want to lug them around. Also not too keep on the idea of going all the way back to the hotel just to drop off a life size Duffy Stuffy? No problem. If you are staying on property you can have any purchase you make (aside from open food items like popcorn) sent directly to your hotel. No need to carry anything around while you are enjoying the sights and sounds of the park. Once you go back to the hotel for the day just stop at it’s gift shop and your goods will be there waiting for you. It’s that simple.

Of course there are other benefits to staying at the hotel which you would get at any other high quality hotel. The rooms are themed with your favorite Disney characters as is the rest of the hotel. There are also restaurants with foods for everyone to enjoy and areas where you can purchase necessities and snacks. Some hotels also have smaller and quicker food options such as a diner, deli or other quick service options. These hotels do come at a cost, however, it is comparable to a Disney Resort Deluxe hotel hotel anywhere else in the world. Prices are subject to change with the season so if you are interested please visit the Tokyo Disney website. My personal opinion, having stayed at other Disney properties in the past is that it is very worth the money to stay here if you take advantage of all the perks which are available to you. If you choose to not take advantage of those perks you might find yourself spending extra money on something you were entitled to get for fee and that just seems unnecessary.

Although I have said some wonderful things about the hotels on property I have also taken some time to do some research on what other people were saying and to be completely honest the response was overwhelming good. There were some people out there who did have negative things to say about the hotels but overall I truly thing that the problem they had with the hotels was that they did not meet the unrealistic expectations of the person writing the review. One person had felt that staying at one of the hotels was too far away because it was a 10 minute walk to the park on foot and a 5 minute buss ride and that is “unacceptable for small children who want to visit the park”. For me this comment was almost laughable as I have stayed on property before and traveled with young children making over a 20 minute walk to the park and feeling like I was extremely close. With a 10 minute walk and a 5 minute buss ride I am not sure how much closer you can get. This person then stated that they switched hotels to the Mira Costa because they could walk directly into the park and that is the way it should be. In my opinion these are unrealistic expectations. Another person had made a review saying that the accommodations were not very good at all. They stated that the bed was very firm and that there was not a grab deal of area for your clothing to be hung in the closets which I do not necessarily feel is unrealistic expectations but rather the result of not fully understanding the location you are traveling to. Here in Japan beds are extremely firm because people here are used to sleeping on the floor using futon. For some this is common knowledge but for others I suppose it is not as common as you would think. If you were to visit bed shops you will see that there is not a great deal of places for you to find the soft springy bed that you might find in the western world. As for the lack of space to hang things in the closets this is most likely again because of culture. Many Japanese people travel for short periods of time so you might not stay in a hotel for more than 2 or 3 days. This makes it unnecessary to have more than 2 or 3 hangers in a closet. Of course these are all things that are subjective based on your personal experiences in the past. The final complaint that I am going to talk about here is a person who had said that they were waiting for 45 minutes to get into Chef Mickey’s for a character breakfast. This is actually one of the complaints that I would classify as not having traveled to a place which has a high capacity before. I also wonder if they had used another perk that you have as a person who stays on property called “priority seating”.

One thing that you will find at some Disney restaurants is that they do not take reservations but they do have this thing called “priority seating”. Priority seating is a list that those staying at the hotel can be put on, it’s almost like a fast pass line. Although you are not guaranteed a table at a certain time you can find yourself waiting less than the people who simple decide to show up. Priority seating procedures can be found out during check in but it is usually as simple as letting the restaurant or your hotel know that you would like to be put on the list and showing up. When your name gets called you then go in. Simple as that.

Overall if you are spending time in the Tokyo Disney Resort you may find it beneficial to stay at one of the on property hotels. Fore more information about the hotels themselves you can always check out the Tokyo Disney Resort website which has an English page which is incredibly informative. You can also stay tuned through the month of July as I post information regarding my trip to Tokyo and about the hotel that I am staying at which will be one of the on property hotels that I described above. As always thanks for reading and I will talk to you soon.

Rolling Stones make drinking MUCH more fun


There is always something interesting and exciting happening at your local Japanese supermarket. Ok, I realize that this sounds strange but if you have spent any time here in Japan you would soon find out that from incentive gifts for purchasing multiples of items to crazy products going to the grocery store is always an adventure. Today during my trip to the supermarket I encountered one of these items and much to the liking of the product placement people I couldn’t help but pick some up.

What drew me in was the very recognizable Rolling Stones logo along with the bright yellow color of the packaging and boxes surrounding the product. The first one that I saw was the “Rolling Gold” bottle which screamed rock and roll at me and I could not help myself until I then turned the corner to see a number of other types. It turns out that the products weren’t necessarily different but it turns out that these three types of drinks (which I will explain here in a moment) come in both a can and bottle variety.

Once I got home I started doing some research to find out more information about these products. According to a few articles these drinks are part of a campaign by Suntory to target some of the younger drinking audience who prefer drinks with a lower alcohol content. This is evident with the relatively low alcohol content in these drinks (between 4 and 5%). Of course this is not to target under age children but rather to target the drinkers in their early twenties (drinking age in Japan is 20 year old). The “Stones Bar” as it is called consists of three different drinks which both come in glass bottles and in cans. There is a beer, an energy drink flavored drink and a high ball (ginger ale and whisky). These flavors are very popular here in Japan and therefore there is essentially something for everyone here in the Stones Bar.

Today I have only picked up two drinks, one is the energy drink flavored one called “Rolling Gold” and the other is the highball called “Citrus Highball”. I had tasted both and they were both very good although I like the Rolling Gold quite a bit and later regretted getting an entire case. Of course the highball is extremely straight forward it tastes of ginger ale and whisky with a hint of lemon and lime. It is a bit sweeter than some other highball varieties which are on the market which was good in my opinion. Rolling Gold was my absolute favorite. This tasted like smarties which which is sweet and citrusy. To be completely honest it is difficult to describe but if you have the chance to try it I would give it a shot.

The price on these items were similar to other products. The glass bottle was about 200 yen which is a good price for a glass bottled drink here. The can was about 180 yen which again was not that bad for a drink although if you are looking for a buzz there are other products with much more alcohol content that could have been purchased for the same low cost. Personally when I want to get a good buzz going I prefer something that is about 8 or 9% alcohol. Then again if you want something that had alcohol in it and tastes great without any flavor or sting of alcohol this is a good choice. I would also recommend this for an event when you might be wanting to drink for a long period of time. Overall this is a great product which I would definitely recommend.

 

An enjoyable bike ride through Oyama


OkiNinjaKitty and Rusty head out for a bike ride through the neighborhoods of Oyama and towards the beach.

Today Rusty and I decided that we wanted to get out of the house before the typhoon which is scheduled to come our way in the next day or so and explore a little so we got on our bikes packed some granola bars and water and headed out on a journey down to the beach. The journey took us through the neighborhoods of Oyama which was a different route than what we had usually taken before and landed us on the Ginowan Bypass where we were able to go to the beach down by the Ginowan Convention Center. Today was not a day for swimming but it was a day to just take a look at the beautiful ocean and it sure was the perfect day for that.

It was a picture perfect day. When we got to the beach the sky and ocean were were beautiful and it was wonderful just to sit down for a few moments to enjoy. Although there was a storm that was less than 36 hours away the weather was absolutely beautiful. Although it was hot and humid there was a nice breeze which made it very nice to be outside.

There was also another group of people who had been at the beach enjoying the weather which Rusty and I thought were extremely humorous. They had clearly been there for at least most of the night. They had been un a tent sleeping in the sun and clearly drunk. As we were sitting on the seawall we hears two pull up on a scooter and say (translation) “it’s good we’ve got water and sake”. They clearly had no plans on going anywhere soon. I am not sure if I could have found myself out in the weather like that for a long amount of time and certainly not under the influence of alcohol but nonetheless they looked like they were enjoying themselves.

Finally our trip came to an end and we headed back the way we came through the small neighborhoods of Oyama and towards home. It was a great trip and on the bikes it was extremely enjoyable. Certainly a nice chance to get to of the house before we had found ourselves stuck in the house for the next couple of days due to typhoon Guchol.

We spent the ret of our day in the house sitting in the air conditioned bedroom watching television and enjoying being cool. Today was a lot of fun but it was also one of the hottest days that we have had yet this summer (or at least it felt like it).

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How not to stick out in Okinawa. . . . at least not as much


There has been a lot of discussion in the JVLOG community recently about racism and discrimination but some of you are most likely reading this and wondering how to simply make a good impressions when you get here to Okinawa. This was something that I was wondering when I first got here to Okinawa as well and there were various things that I had read but I found myself feeling as if I was reading information which was not necessarily up to date or simply not practiced.

In the interest of writing this post I have been doing a great deal of information searching among different JVLOGGERS who are out there from different parts of Japan. This allowed me to see what was and was not acceptable in different parts of Japan. Some of these things were big and others were small but nonetheless we will discuss some of them in this post.

The first thing and most difficult thing to transition to when coming to Okinawa is that indoor voices are used everywhere. I am sure that you are familiar with the “indoor voice” as we learn about it in grade school. Here people are all around just more quiet then you would expect. Even when I think I am being quite I a little too loud and need to adjust my voice. Of course this is not always the case, there are people who are louder than others, however, in general being quiet is the accepted practice. There is then the issue of actions that are taken in public. As an adult you are expected to conduct yourself as an adult. I realize that this is not always the case in the US and other countries I am sure when on a friday night people over the age of 18 or 19 are running a muck and painting the town with no consideration for people around them but this is extremely unacceptable here. Jumping about and running in public places like malls is not acceptable.

If you have children it is important to ensure that they are good listeners and by your side. Children who scream and run about is not acceptable here. Of course there are always exceptions to every rule and newborn babies tend to cry without warning at times however if your child is old enough to walk without assistance through a store they should be conducting themselves in a disciplined manner. This also carries out through restaurants and other entertainment venues (movies, live shows. . . ) as well. Children who are crying should be removed as to not disturb other patrons. Of course strollers are acceptable but I would not use a double stroller (where the children sit side by side rather than front to back) when inside shopping centers due to their size and the limited space in aisles. It will not only be inconvenient for you trying to maneuver it around the tight corners but you will find yourself blocking out others trying to get through the aisles as well. The best recommendation in this case would be an umbrella stroller which will most likely be easier to take around and move around the stores with.

Overall tattoos are accepted here within reason. If a tattoo is offensive in any way (such as nudity, gruesome or overly religious) you might want to have it covered when in certain situations. You should also always use discretion when showing your tattoos in certain public places which might be fancy or dressy especially when they are not around the central Okinawa area. There are times when having tattoos will mean that you have to cover them or you will not be allowed service such as some bath houses or pools. This is policy in various parts of Japan and this policy sticks here also. This also does not only apply to foreigners but also applies to Japanese people as well. The most important thing is to ensure that you keep in mind that tattoos have a different meaning here in Japan than then do in the US and therefore they are looked at differently.

One more thing about tattoos in Okinawa is ensure that they are covered by either an outer garnet or sunscreen at all times! The sun is hotter here and even people who never used to burn like myself find that it is only a few hours out in the sun on an overcast day and I am burnt to a crisp. Of course you should take time to sunscreen your whole body but ensure that you protect your tattoos with something. More often than not I like to put on a long sleeve shirt because it can be taken off without leaving an oily mess but of course sunscreen is also a good choice.

Finally I would like to close out with something brought up by another JVLOGGER called silent observation and this is the most important thing to do when you are here in Japan let alone Okinawa. Keep your eyes open and watch the people around you. Never act first. You could also say move with the flow of traffic if you are going too slow you stand out if you are going to fast this is the case too. Go with the flow and do as the Japanese or Okinawan people do and you will have a smoother transition.

To close this out I would like to ask for you to let me know your experiences. Has anything you have experienced been different from what I experienced? Put it in the comments below.

Beating the Heat


If you come to Okinawa and are going to be here during the summer months you will soon realize that Okinawa is a hot and humid place. In fact the heat is really minor to the incredible humidity that you will encounter here. Although our temperatures here are in the 80’s and 90’s throughout the summertime it is not uncommon for us to have on the up side of 80 or 90% humidity. Because of this we find ourselves doing a number of things to try and deal with the weather. Between carrying around face towels and various products which will help us attempt to stay cool.

In a video which was posted on the OkiNinjaKitty Youtube Channel I had explained some of the products that I use and find helpful during the summertime. These products are common and can be found anywhere but they are so incredibly helpful.

Now I do understand that some people don’t like to try Japanese products for a number of reasons. Personally my thought is go ahead and try them and see how they work for you. I felt the same way when I first got here figuring that there is no reason to spend extra money on products because who needs them right? However, one day I found myself picking up one or another of these products and when I did I realized that when in Rome, do like the Romans.

Anyway, check out the video and maybe you will feel like you can try out some products during your time here.