Thursday, May 31, 2012

Practicing my religion in Okinawa.

I was running some errands today and found myself looking at an ad for a local church thinking that it might be something to blog/VLOG about. Now I will say in advance that this post (and future video) is not for everyone and it is going to be more informative than entertaining so I am sorry for those readers who are looking for an entertaining read. My goal, however, is to inform those of you wanting to know about practicing your religion in Okinawa what some of your options may be. That being said I have not personally visited these establishments nor have I researched their practices or what they stand for. All information is purely informative. Please use your discretion and as always feel free to leave comments or suggestions to fellow readers regarding these establishments if you have any personal experience with any of them. 

Oh, there's one more thing. You will not see me comment on any of the local religions here in Okinawa. There are two reasons for this 1) this post is mostly for those coming here from the US and 2) I didn't take too much time to research these areas of worship. If I get enough requests I would be happy to fulfill them but until them this information is what I have to offer. Thanks for your understanding.

If you are looking for Christian churches off base then you have quite a few to choose from. Below I have included the names of the ones that I was able to easily find and attached the links as well. Unfortunately if I have not added the link I was unable to get it to load and I apologize for that.

United Christian Center 

Koza Baptist Church 

Zion Christian Fellowship and Academy

All Souls Anglican Episcopal Church

Kingdom Outreach Ministries International 

Calvary Chapel Ginowan

Calvary Chapel Okinawa 

Okinawa Covenant Church

Neighborhood Church

Marantha Baptist Church

If you are a LDS Church Member/Mormon then there are also off base establishments where you can practice your religion. Unfortunately I honestly do not know where they are or the names, however, I have been approached by people of the Mormon faith many times and been passed publications so I know that these churches are out there I honestly just do not know by what name. Please note: If I find myself finding the information about these establishments I will make another post and be sure to include that information. 

For those of you who practice Wicca or other Pagan religions it is difficult to explain and even understand. Let me explain. There doesn't seem to be any well advertised places of worship, however, when researching Wicca for example there were others out there also looking for people with similar interests to practice with. So do I know that there are people out there wanting to be part of a group, haven't been able to find any. I apologize for that.

If you are coming to Okinawa and want to worship on base you have a lot of options. On Kadena Air Base  there are various religions that you can practice on base. For example they offer Buddhist Services, Eastern Ortodox Services, Islamic Sercices, Jewish Services, LDS Services, and Wiccan/Pagan. There are times and locations listed on the website and in various base wide publications. You can also choose to worship on one of the many Marine Corps Base Chapels. Here you can find Catholic, Protestant, Gospel, Eastern Orthodox, Christian Science, Seventh Day Advent, Jewish, LDS, Muslim, Lutheran, Non-Denominational, Protestant, Gospel, Pentecostal Gospel, and Protestant Contemporary Services. These services are spread out throughout the island and you may have to go to a particular location if you are looking for a particular service. For example Non-Denominational service is only held on Camp Lester where Pentecostal Gospel services are only held on Camp Kinser.

The last thing that I can talk about is worship shops. I know back in my home town there were various shops that accommodated various religions. I distinctly know some shops where you would go for tokens of Christian saints and such where there were others that you could buy more mystical items like healing stones and runes. Unfortunately I have not seen any shops where one could purchase Christian tokens of any kind. I have however seen some shops which have things such as healing stones. Keep in mind that chakra stones are a thing here so although you won't find what I would call the equivalent to a pagan shop the stones are as far as I have ever seen. Finally there are shops that have things like buddhist and shinto tokens and statues of course as that is the religion that many practice here.

So that's basically all the information that I have regarding practicing religion here on Okinawa. I realize that this might not be the MOST informative post that you have ever seen but I hope that you can at least take what I have provided here and run with it. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. I can not guarantee that I have have an answer but maybe another reader might be able to assist you or with your permission I can open the question up on other forms of media and see what answers I can get for you. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Visiting Okinawa: Weather in June

Today I received a message from one of my followers on Facebook asking about traveling to Okinawa in June and thought that I would take this opportunity to talk about the weather here in Okinawa during June.

First of all I should say that almost any time is a great time to visit Okinawa. The island is beautiful and has so much to offer that even after 6 years I find myself still unable to say I have seen everything. There are some seasons that are "better" than others depending on where you live and what weather you are used to but overall I believe that it is basically a case by case basis. My main point is that regardless when you come to Okinawa you are going to get those coffee table book quality photos and memories that will last a lifetime.

Overall most people will say that the summer months (June through September) are the hardest months to acclimate to when here in Okinawa. For me I would agree but as I said before I came from the north east where it snows in April. June is the month where the summer starts to get into gear although there are still days where we experience the tail end of the spring. The weather is in the mid 70's to 80's and the humidity is starting to remind us that it's here. One day you might find that it is cool and damp and the next day you can't seem to get to your car without working up a sweat. Luckily at night it cools down a bit and likewise it is cool in the mornings. The unfortunate part is that June falls within the rainy season which means that there is a 90% chance of rain at least during some part of the day. This is honestly not much of a problem because no matter where you are you can get an umbrella for really cheap (about 300yen) and continue on with your day. June is also the start of the typhoon season. Typhoons are basically hurricanes here in the Pacific and during Typhoon Season we see quite a bit of them. If you are traveling here on vacation I would recommend to purchase tickets that are changeable or refundable and if you are coming here to stay for a while (PCS or Move) it is important to make sure that you have everything that you need in order to sustain in the event that a large typhoon comes through.

Over the course of the past 6+ years I have experienced quite a few typhoons, however, only two of these were worth noting. The first was Manyi which happened over 4 years ago. The storm was categorized as a "super typhoon" and took about 4 days to pass by us if my memory serves me right. This was the most devastating typhoon that I have ever seen in my time here. It was impossible to drive, trees were down and in cases they had blown through the fence lines at the bases. Yes that's right imagine a tree taking out a hole like a cannon ball through the military base chained link fence. It was THAT bad. In fact the storm itself was stronger than Katrina. Now with that being said it is important to note that Okinawa is built for typhoons. I have spoken about this in my video Okinawa is built for typhoon and have documented various typhoons on my youtube channel. To put it short and sweet Okinawa can take a hit. Even with Manyi the buildings were mostly ok and most of the damage was to other things such as awnings that were not properly stowed, cars that were struck by trees and similar.

Basically to sum it up expect temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees with it cooler on the morning and evening. Also plan for a rain shower on most days, because it's rainy season it's not a bad idea to have an umbrella. Finally stay alert for typhoons. You can stay tuned to a variety of news sites which will offer you information regarding the hazardous weather.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope that this has offered you some insight of what to expect traveling to Okinawa during the month of June. If you have any further questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below or email me at

I think I live in what was base housing. . . .

Let me first start off by saying that I do not live in what is a "traditional" japanese style house. To be honest I am not even sure that there are any more traditional japanese style houses in the southern part of Okinawa. Yes some of them have been preserved and rebuild but they are not the majority of what you will see here. Of course this is not something that you would have to search the history books for because the houses are clearly different from what you see in the parts of Okinawa that were not so much affected by WWII. I also live very close to the base fence line like many other people in Ginowan and yesterday I noticed something interesting. When walking up the road to get back to my house I found that one of the tombs along the left side of the road had been cleaned up. The wall is usually covered in growth but someone usually comes by and takes care of it. Yesterday, however, it had been cleared out all the way down to the stone wall itself and I noticed that it said painted in stencil yellow it said "SLOW DOWN 5 MPH". This was very interesting to me because first of all there was no Japanese that was painted on and the us of MPH rather than KPH.

Now for those of you who may be reading this looking for historical value I am going to be very up front. At this time  I honestly do not know the factual information about the location where I live as far as what it was before the past 10 years. Okinawa is a very difficult place to follow especially when it comes to some of the places like MCAS Futenma. Many of the articles that I can find about the location are focused on certain topics and it in the past 24 hours has not produced information regarding the actual layout of what the base used to be in the past. What I do know is this, MCAS Futenma during WWII was build as a "temporary" air station. The land was leveled to allow for American air planes to land and assist in the war efforts. At some point I do know that the American Military opened some land back up for the people of Okinawa to live back in again. This is basically the extent of what I know. Well that and the fact that MCAS Futenma is still here. (**For those of you who are reading this who are aware that there are a lot of other facts regarding what was and may never be recovered from MCAS Futenma's "settling" in Ginowan please know that I do know that information and have not chosen to go into that type of detail for this particular article. In the future I may take the time to put together an article with that information, however, I would like to devote to it the proper time and research to ensure that all of my facts are right rather than just pulling it together carelessly. Thank you for your understanding**)

So, we're walking past this sign and I say to my husband "I bet we live in base housing" to which he stops in his tracks and said, "wow I bet we do". There are a few clues to this which become clear when you take a look around. First off there is the structure of the base housing. Even if you are not a military member you would be familiar with this structure because of the houses near the fence line. These houses are usually one story, concrete and have a roof which is I can only describe as what you would see on a house of cards. Flat across with an overhang around the sides. This is the same style of house that you can find in certain areas around the bases in the MCAS Futenma area. Although some of them have been changed understandably since the 1970's when I imagine most of these were built you can still see the distinct similarities. These houses are small, maybe two or three rooms but enough that a small family can live there or maybe a small group of Military personnel.

The road that I live on is also quite curious. As many of you who may have seen my videos before know that it is small and leads to nowhere really, except for houses and to be completely honest it is not large enough for more than one car to go down at a time with few places which allow for a turn off. There is, however a road that is on the base beyond the fence line which runs parallel with the road that I live on. I imagine that at one time the fence line went further down maybe all the way down to 58 at which point it would have perfectly met where the MCAS Futenma sign sits today. Maybe this small neighborhood (and many others) were part of that on base land and then were given back and the fence line moved back? I truthfully have no idea. If this was the case I find it quite sad. The reason being is that there are tombs throughout this entire neighborhood which means that if this were to be part of the base at one point families would have been unable to visit the tombs of their loved ones which is a rather big deal here in Ginowan. Now I do understand that this was and is still very much the case elsewhere on the base right now but still the thought of this land being off limits does still strike a cord with me. Now, it could have also been the case that this was base housing which was constructed outside the base. This was something that I understand was also done during certain time periods. Even now this same type of thing happens where housing is built targeting the American Military members. The potential difference is that now you can rent the houses where as there may have been housing that military members used without paying at some time in the past.

Regardless what turns out to be the actual factual information (which I will hopefully find some times in the future) this is an interesting thing to ponder around.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Golden Kings, Ferris Wheel and Much More: This Is Current Events

Welcome to the first of hopefully many segments where I write (and talk if you watch about current events. Although I am not 100% sure on what the name of this segment will be called I am going with "This is current events" which has a nice little ring to it and I think that it will provide me with the appropriate feel of what I would like to discuss about. In this blog post I am going to talk about various things that I have found throughout the news in Okinawa in the past week. I will talk a little bit about the "event" and let you know how I feel about that particular item. So here we go!

Golden Kings Win Championship

For those of you who might not be familiar the Golden Kings this is Okinawa's basketball team. They were known as the Ryukyu Kings but recently for a reason that I honestly do not remember they had changed their name, uniform and everything to golden. This team is the pride of Okinawa as far as I have come to understand. In fact I have not met anyone yet who wasn't a fan of this team in one way or another. I truthfully do not know the details of the championship as I was not watching but the fact of the matter is that it was the big one, so big in fact that families gathered throughout my neighborhood and most likely throughout Okinawa to cheer on the team.

You might be asking why this is something worth noting. I mean it was only a game right? Well for me yes it was only a game. I personally am not too involved with sports but for those who were watching this game it was above the level of anything I have ever experienced here in Okinawa in my 6 + years. The families were chanting and cheering in their houses. It was actually startling because this is not something that one ever really experiences here in Okinawa. It was exciting just to listed to and what was surprising is that it lasted for two days. It almost felt like I was back in the US on Super Bowl Sunday.

Ferris Wheel Operational Again

If you have been following my videos or Facebook page you know that the iconic ferris wheel in Mihama has been closed down. This was sad for a lot of us here in Okinawa. Fortunately information has been released that the ferris wheel will continue to be operational dispute the recent claims that repairs were too costly. There have been some changes, however. The coke logo in the center of the wheel is now gone and I do not know if this has changed the theming of the inside of the ride which had also been themed with Coke products. Please keep yourself posted on the Facebook page for more information when it becomes available or if you have visited the building recently please post in the comments below.

Festival Season Kicks Off At Schwab

It's that time of year again, festival season. Each year throughout the summer and into the holiday season the military bases open up to the local public one weekend a month for various festivals which will feature local and state side entertainment. This year the festival season kicked off at Camp Schwab located in Northern Okinawa with a live performance by Candlebox.

These events are a lot of fun and allow something interesting for all walks of life. If you like it. . . . they most likely have it. For the kids there is a kids carnival area where they can take part in various activities, like any other festival food is abundant and don't forget the alcohol for those who want to drink the night away. If you want to take part in one of these festivals keep an eye out on the various web sites for the bases and local papers. The information is everywhere.

See the video by clicking here! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A New Concept: Katventures


My father-in-law is a big OkiNinjaKitty fan and recently he brought up the idea of a series of videos called "Katventures". I have not 100% decided how I will be handling these types of videos but at this time I feel that it is going to be the name of any videos that I do which are in any way some type of adventure rather than just something informative about Okinawa or Japan.

Truthfully this will not really be any huge chance to the quality of the videos although you might see a new intro and maybe a few new fun things going on in the videos themselves.

So when can you expect to see "Katventures" take off? As you can see in the graphic above the first location for the "Katventures" is going to be Tokyo. I am heading to Tokyo mid July so it is the perfect time for me to get some awesomely fun footage and share it with you guys. It is also going to be a lot of fun because this will be one of the first adventures that I will be taking by myself (at least for some of the time) and then meeting up with Big Momma (ok so she will probably not make an appearance as "big momma" but that's the best I can come up with right now) who will be joining me for her first trip independently out of the country. We will come together and have a lot of fun traveling through some areas of Tokyo and making memories that I am sure you will all very much enjoy.

Although I will be taking a trip through Tokyo for about a week you can expect to see the various videos posted throughout that time in order to make sure that I can get everything uploaded edited and all that great stuff. There will also be special "Katventures Teasers" which will be up on UStream as well as hopefully posted to YouTube if Rusty (the hubby) can coordinate with me on that.

It is bound to be a great time and I hope that you all enjoy the upcoming videos!

We want to hear from you!

Writing blog posts and making videos is fun but it is even more fun when I can get information about what you guys want to hear about. Have any suggestions that you don't see? Put them in a comment below and I will include it in my next post!

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Okinawa Summer Weather

Imagine for a moment you are on a plane. It's August.  For the past 2 hours you have been in your seat waiting anxiously to pull into your terminal at Naha International Airport. Finally you have arrived, gather your carryon luggage and move towards the door where you step out of your air conditioned capsule. Immediately you find yourself hot. . . . it's humid and the fact that you have been traveling for what is most likely longer than the 2 hour flight from Tokyo or Osaka and carrying your bags isn't helping. Finally you reach the actual building moments later and feel that relief of air conditioning again which quickly fades as everyone moves towards the luggage pickup area. You get your stuff and you walk towards the doors and you realize that you're hot. . . it's MORE humid than before and you've not going back now because you're already walking towards the vehicle which will be taking you into the city. Welcome to Okinawa!

Ok. . . Ok. . . .So yes above is a bit of a dramatization but the fact of the matter is that this is basically what I experienced on my way here. This being said I am from Boston and I traveled here in July which for me was hot when I left Boston and when I got here I experienced more heat and humidity than I have ever experienced. In fact to some I say I had not grown my gills yet and so I was unable to handle the humidity. I also give this as a comical explanation for why I passed out 3 times that summer.

This post is fueled by a comment left on our Facebook page which asked about traveling here during the summer months. 

The fact of the matter is that there really isn't anything to be worried about when traveling to Okinawa in the summertime if you are prepared. The good news is that because you are reading this post and watching my videos you have the upper hand right there. According to The Weather Channel the average temperature in August is a high of 87 and a low of 78 but the fact of the matter is that these numbers really do not do the weather here justice. During the summer it is hot but the main problem that people have with Okinawa is the humidity. This is something that you will need to get used to. Although (depending on where you are coming from) the first few summer months will seem unbearable over time you will find yourself more and more likely to not feel as if you are in an oven. There are some other people who do not feel this way because they come from a place with hot climate or grew up in the south. For me this was not the case and so my experience was different. What does this all mean? Basically what to expect here in Okinawa during the summer is relative to your past experience so to talk too much about it would be almost a waste of time.

Now that you understand a little bit more about the weather let's talk about a few things you can do to make your summer a more pleasant experience.

1) Spread on the sunscreen - Although you might only be going out for a little while you want to do what you can to prevent yourself from getting burnt. Many people say that over here in Okinawa we are "closer to the sun" and although I do not know the exact information on the science of it all I can tell you that the sun is much hotter. For someone who has never really burned until I got here I can tell you from experience that it is important to try and keep yourself covered.

2) Sports Drinks, Even Without The Sports - You might not be the type of person to like sports drinks but there are times when you will find yourself sweating just to get to your car so make sure that you are rehydrating not only with water but also sports drinks.

3) Don't go straight into physical activity until you have been acclimated to the location. Some people will say that it takes about 3 or 4 weeks to get to the point where you are acclimated to Okinawa's weather. Although different people will adjust differently there are times when it might be better to sit back and ensure you are ready to be outside for long periods of time before going for a run.

With this information I am going to close this post. I am hoping that this has offered enough information for you to have an idea of what it is to scratch the surface of coming to Okinawa in the summer time. If you have any further questions make a commend and let me know. Maybe you have had a different experience coming to Okinawa? Let me know about it and I will ensure to share it with those who might be interested.