Friday, June 29, 2012

Biggest Fan Mail Friday Yet!

Fan Mail Friday has never been so exciting and full of information. This week I received some spectacular questions from our viewers and readers. Many of these questions will be helpful to those of you heading out this way so let's waste no time.
I hear shops (clothing) in japan are more tailored to small size people. Is it hard to find clothes that fit or is it better to shop online?

WOW! Great question and one that I am sure has been burning in the brains of many who are preparing to come here to Okinawa. For the most part what you hear is right. Shops here in Japan have clothes which are meant for smaller people but that's because the average person here is on the smaller side. This doesn't mean, however, that you won't have the ability to find clothing that fits you here. There are shops which carry "Queen Sizes" as they are known here for us woman who are more of the American size and shape. At almost every department store you can find up to a 3L which is what I would consider (depending on the company of course) an American L or XL. There are also stores which will sell up to an 8L. Ultimately this means that there are clothes out there for you if you are not as small as the typical Japanese person.

** Side Note: Before I continue on let's talk about sizes here in Japan. There is XS, S, M, L, LL and then 3L, 4L and so on. Different companies can run slightly small or slightly large so it depends on what you are looking at. Either way it's always best to try it on if you have the chance before making the purchase.

It is important to note that a;though these clothes are out there you might not find everything in every size and if you are looking for these sizes you are going to have to put in some effort. Although you may be a common size in the US you are not a common size here and that is something you are going to find yourself dealing with. That being said I have never had trouble finding clothes here (I wear a 3L to a 5L depending on what I am purchasing and how I want that particular item to fit.) as far as basics, fashion items and pants go. Again that's not to say that every time I go shopping I walk out of a department store with my bags full but I can occasionally find items that I like and pick them up here and there.

Now, if you are here with the US Military you will have the option of shopping on base. This is good because you have the opportunity to work with sizing you are familiar with and with clothes brands you may already be familiar with but be forewarned there are two clear divides in the shopping centers on base: Juniors and Old Lady. If you are anything bigger than a juniors size and you are still wanting to look youthful you may have some trouble shopping on the base.

As far as shopping online it is really up to you. I have been here for 6 years now and what used to be a 10 is no longer a 10 if you know what I mean. It is for this reason that I really don't shop online because by the time it gets here, I try it on to see if it fits, I doesn't fit, I pay to ship it back and get another size. . . . Summer is already over and I am out more now because of the cost of shipping the item back and forth. For someone like yourself if you are coming here and know where you like to shop and what you want to purchase then you might find yourself purchasing online without a problem so it's entirely up to you.
I just found out you can get Netflix in Japan. Do you have Netflix? Why or Why not?

Unfortunately Netflix is not available in Japan and therefore I do not have it. I have done some research, however, and have found that if you are living on the military bases you can get Netflix DVD's mailed to your on base address but you cannot stream and there have been some pretty bad reviews because of the amount of time that it takes the DVD's to get here as they are sent 4th class mail. You can get Hulu here now although I truthfully am not very informed about that service so I could not tell you much about it.
Since you basically live on an island do you spend a lot of time at the beach?

This question made me chuckle. I am sorry I don't mean it but once you get here it will make more sense. I don't basically live on an island I definitely live on an island. Okinawa is only about 60 miles long and at times only 2 miles wide so yes it's very much an island. :-) But back to your question. Do I spend a lot of time at the beach? I am going to assume that by "spending time" you mean like you would in the US where you go to the beach in a swim suit set yourself in the sun and enjoy the sand and the surf. Let's first talk about beaches. Although Okinawa is an island it is comprised of coral and therefore it does not have sandy beach surrounding the entire island. In some places there are concrete steps leading to the ocean and in other places there are these large concrete "jacks" (called tetropods). Both of these prevent erosion. It is also important to note that although there are various beaches around the island they are not all safe to swim at recreationally. During certain seasons Okinawa has what is known as the box jellyfish which is extremely dangerous and people are strongly discouraged from swimming in areas that have not been sectioned off. (You will notice when you get here that there seems to be a big beach but people are only swimming in a small area. This is to protect them from the box jellyfish.

Ok so do I spend a lot of time at the beach. I do but not in the way that I think you are asking. In the summertime I do not spend much time at the beach at all. It is too hot. With temps in the 80's and 90's and humidity on the up side of 95% you really can't spend more than an hour out in the sun without overheating. It is nice to jump in the water but the fact of the matter is that before you get back to your beach towel you are already going to be overheating again. It is also very difficult to turn back from overheating here in the Okinawa summer. Especially if you are lying out on the beach. During the winter I am at the beach all the time going for walks, eating lunch and just enjoying the view. I do like to tan from time to time though but I am lucky enough to have a deck looking out on the ocean that I can use and when I want to cool off on a hot summer day and look out on the ocean my tub has a window which has the most perfect view of the sunset. I realize that is probably cheating but it works for me :-P
I'm big into movies what is the last big name movie plain in Okinawa like in America. We have have at least 10 movies to chose from. How many in Okinawa?

Okinawa is also big into movies. Here are some of the movies in English that were playing at a local theater called the Mihama 7Plex: The Amazing Spiderman, Bad Teacher, Navy Seals, Hungry Rabbit, Snow White and the Huntsman, Soul Surfer, We bought a Zoo, The Vow, Dark Shadow, Men in Black and Larry Crowe. Of course not all movies come out as quickly as they do in the US but they are still relatively on top of their game. The one thing that you will notice about movies here is that they are more expensive than in the US. Adults are 1600yen, High School 1300, Elementary School 1000, Senior 1000, Infant 600 and physically challenged 800. There are some deals that happen throughout the week also which offer discounts. Every Wednesday is ladies day where women get in for 1000yen and on Monday is men's day where they can get in for 1100yen. There is also a deal on the 22nd of every month where a married couple can see a movie for a total of 2200yen. Although the prices seem high they are off set by the cost of snacks which is relatively low. A popcorn and soda for example will only cost you 350yen so compared to what you are used to in the US it's quite a deal.
Is the water safe to drink in Japan.

When I first got this question I was wondering what exactly this person was talking about. I had responded to them in person and asked if they had been referring to radiation but they had explained that they were just referring to water in general. This person had been told that when in Japan not to drink the water or use ice because you would get very ill. This was interesting to me but at the same time when I think back to when I first came here I had heard some people warning me about the same thing.

Long story short it is perfectly safe to drink the water, eat the egg products, use ice and consume foods here in Japan. I honestly think that this is a tactic that some people use to make people feel as of they should not travel to another country in order to keep themselves safe but that is just my honest opinion. I have been here for over 6 years now and never once had a problem drinking water or consuming anything. I do use a filter for my drinking water but this is not because of anything other than I feel as though it's a good way to ensure that any water you are drinking is clean and free of debris of any kind. Have I drank straight from the tap, yes. No problems.
Will the humidity make me break out?

Truthfully I have no idea what the humidity will do to you. For me the humidity makes my hair frizzy but I suppose you could break out from the humidity if that is what generally happens to your skin.
How long is the flight from Denver to Okinawa?

The flight to Okinawa from Denver is anywhere from 16 to 25 hours depending on where you are flying into, the weather conditions and so on. Then there is the matter of how long it will take you when you add in the amount of time that you are laying over at the airports so yeah. For me flying from MA the trip took me about 48 hours which was brutal but that's what happens when you are traveling and having layovers here and there. When it all comes down to brass tax yes it is an incredibly long flight and it is important to ensure that you are prepared which will make the flight easier for everyone. Ensure that you keep yourself entertained, comfortable and busy for most of the trip and it won't seem as bad.
Are the airports scary and confusing?

This is one of those questions that depends on where you are flying through. I have flown through Haneda and Osaka without any problems. Each airport has it's share of English speaking staff, prompts and signs which will ensure that you know where you are going. The airport does not HAVE to be scary if you take the time to stop, breath and just listen. I realize that this can sound silly but seriously it is very helpful. Most of the time signs will go through a few different languages so make sure that you take time to stop and read what is on the sign. It won't take too long so again don't worry just relax.
Is it expensive to mail things from Okinawa to the US?

Since I am aware that you are going to be coming here as military no it is not expensive to mail things back to the US. You will have use of an APO or FPO which is basically the USPS here in another country where you can send your items as if they are being sent from California. It still may take a little more time for these items to arrive than they would if you were to mail them from the US but the cost will be the same.

If you are mailing from Okinawa's post office (the one out in town) then yes it can be expensive to mail from Okinawa to the US depending on what you are sending and how you would like it sent.
Can I use my American appliances in Japan?

Yes. American appliances can be used in Japan regardless where you live although it is important to remember that you may need to buy a special plug converter to make your appliances capable of being plugged in. It is also important to remember that if you are living off base you may find yourself shorting out circuits if you are trying to run too many American appliances at once so be careful. Overall you should not have a problem though.

Thanks so much everyone for the fantastic questions this week I hope that you have more in the weeks to come. Have a great weekend!

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