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.