Today is the Fourth Of July and for many Americans it is a day to celebrate America’s Independence. But what if you are here in Okinawa? I mean it is Japan right? So how do people celebrate Non-Japanese holidays here in Okinawa? This is actually a great topic for discussion and I think that it is one that many of you will be interested in so let’s discuss.
The first and most obvious thing to discuss and understand is that here in Japan there are a set of holidays which are simply not celebrated like they are in the states because they do not hold significant meaning here. Independence Day, MLK Day, Columbus Day, Memorial Day and so on. These are the days celebrated in America because of American achievements. Naturally the Japanese don’t have any interest in these holidays and therefore these days are just like any other day of the week. However, there are some Japanese companies which actor to American customs here in Okinawa that may have these days off. You may also find that if you are working on or for the Military bases you will usually observe these holidays as you would in the US but be advised that this is not always the case and you should always take special care to ask your employer or command whether or not you are granted these days off. It is also important to note that if you are American and part of the military bases you may find yourself having the ability to attend special celebrations on some of these holidays. MLK day usually has some sort of African American in America Pride/Accomplishments type seminar or event. Memorial Day usually has some type of memorial service and Independence Day has a celebration also. It used to be that the Air Base known as Kadena did a thing called “America Fest” where they would have a ton of different activities for all including the local people who were not normally allowed on base but this year they did a small cookout style event with a live performance from some local bands with fireworks.
So what about these other holidays that are celebrated by Americans?
Kids all over America can’t wait for Halloween and for the American kids being here in Okinawa is no exception. So how does Halloween happen here in Okinawa. If you are in a standard neighborhood out in Okinawa you are not going to see anyone observe Halloween. It’s not something that people do here even though you might see little basic costumes out in town or halloween decorations BUT this is not the case if you are on a base. The bases do have an observance of halloween which usually consists of the camp commanders determining when children can go out from house to house and what children can go from house to house. That’s right. The date, time and age of the children who can trick or treat is determined by each camp. Unfortunately this leave some kids out in the cold, for example one year if you were over the age of 12 you were not allowed to trick or treat which I found a bit silly but again that’s my opinion. There are other celebrations you can attend as an adult and sometimes you may have halloween events to attend as a teen but there is usually a large gap between the little kids and the adults where there is not much to do unless you organize it yourself.
Christmas is one of the holidays that although you might not have the day off in a Japanese company, is still celebrated here in Japan. Unlike in the US it is not religious in nature and is more of a romantic holiday comparable in my opinion to valentine’s day where you and your loved one can go on a date, do romantic things and enjoy each other’s company. There are still decorations and it is a beautiful sight to see. Again if you are on the military bases you may or may not have this holiday off.
To be completely honest I can’t think of any other holidays that are celebrated in America to mention. That’s not to say that there re not others out there but I just don’t have them to comment on right now (feel free to ask away and I will add more information). Now the question most of you are probably wanting to ask about, how do I celebrate the holidays here in Japan. Well to be completely honest it depends on what the holiday is and how much money and effort I am willing to put into it. The best celebration we have had recently was Thanksgiving last year when we went around from place to place trying to make a “thanksgiving dinner” out of random things. The word “Thanksgiving” has the link to that video so please check it out. As for other holidays we take them as they come. We celebrate Christmas be doing some fun little things but we really don’t to too much as far as decorating goes because of the cost of electricity and the lack of space that we have. We do still exchange gifts though and we do maybe go out for dinner or something nice like that. Other holidays really aren’t a thing though. Today for example we are just going to have another day like any other. Maybe we will do something like eat hamburgers or hotdogs which is not something we would normally eat and that will be a bit of our celebration to remind us of home but other than that it’s just another day for us here in Okinawa.
How do you celebrate the holidays?
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