Okinawa is a beautiful place to visit and live. However, there are some things that you definitely need to know if you are thinking of visiting and/or moving here. In this blog post we’re going to cover some of those topics that you need to know about and shine some light on this tiny little island in the middle of the ocean.
1. Okinawa is not a war zone
The island of Okinawa was once the sight of the horrendous Battle of Okinawa during WWII. Many lives were lost and parts of the island were changed forever. Although today remains from WWII are still being recovered and US Military aircraft fly training missions in the skies the island is far from a war zone or combat area. In fact Okinawa is quite literally a resort island where millions of people each year visit the crystal clear beaches and immerse themselves in the unique culture.
2. Foreigners are welcome in Okinawa
Being home to over 30 military bases and opening it’s doors to millions of tourists each year it is no wonder that Okinawa is a foreigner friendly place. In most cases shop keeps, business owners and restaurants do anything they can to accommodate foreigners. Even in all of my years here and all the off the beaten path places I have been there was never a time that I have been denied access to a place or treated particularly poorly because I was a foreigner.
3. Okinawa is Japan. . . . . . but it’s not
The history books and official documents tell us that Okinawa Prefecture, including Okinawa Honto is part of Japan. Trouble is when you tell someone planning to visit Okinawa that it’s “Japan” they can sometimes get the wrong impression of the island. Okinawa and Japan have some similarities. For the most part Japanese is the most commonly used language (although it is not Okinawa’s native language and some words are not the same such as “welcome” which we say by using the word “mensore” but other parts of Japan say “yokusou”), elements of everyday life are the same like the type of appliances we have in our homes and the styles of our home and some of the foods that are eaten. However pretty much everything else here in Okinawa is unique and in many ways different from other parts of Japan. We do not have trains or use mass public transportation other than busses which do not run on time and a monorail with very limited access. We do not have the same fashions or even pop culture trends. There is also a very different mentality down here in Okinawa and the way of doing things is very laid back.
4. There’s more than raw fish and rice on the menu
When I first told my family and friends that I was moving to Japan there was a lot of confusion and a lot of questions of one which was how will I survive on raw fish and rice. Although it seems like a sheltered comment there are actually a lot of people who are concerned about just this. The good news is that here in Okinawa, like most other places in Japan, there are more things on the menu than raw fish and rice. In fact it’s not uncommon to find pizza, tacos and even pasta pretty much anywhere you go in Okinawa. Even when you’re off the beaten path and not near restaurants convenience stores sell things like Cup Noodle and sandwiches.
5. Okinawa’s not so hot but very humid
One of the first things that people say when you ask them to describe Okinawa is that it is HOT! Okinawa really isn’t that hot though. On the average year temperatures don’t get much higher than the 90’s which is, although unbearable for some, not actually that bad. The problem with Okinawa’s summers, however, is the humidity. When summer is in full swing Okinawa’s humidity will end up in the 90-100% range making it not only hard to stay cool but for some like myself hard to breathe. Although some feel as though this is unmanageable there are some things that can be done to make the summer months livable. . . . . . but we’ll talk more about that later.
What are some things that you think it’s important to know about Okinawa? Put them in the comments below and we will include them in our video of the same title!