Saturday, July 28, 2012
I apologize to those of you who have been watching the channel and wanting some time for videos about Okinawa again. I have a great deal of videos in the works in the next could of weeks once the Tokyo Disney Resort videos have been finished.
There has still been a lot of contemplation with the Current Events blog too. I have been trying to compile a lot of stories for my next current events blog but I am finding that many of them are focused on the same things making it difficult for me to find a great deal of interesting stories but rather just different takes on one or two. The fan mail friday has been getting a lot of things to talk about so we will be having one of those either next week or the week after and if you have questions or comments please ensure that you get them in so that I can read them (as always). Especially if you have any questions or comments about the Tokyo Disney Resort because I would like to make sure that I get those videos all together.
Another thing that I would like to do is refer all of you to a new potential website. This site is actually the JVLOG FORUM. This is a new forum for all JVLOGGERS and all others who feel that they want to be involved or talk about or to JVLOGGERS about Japan. This is also a great place to see all the information in one place. For example on there you can find an OkiNinjaKitty section where I post all of my videos about certain topics in one thread for your easy viewing pleasure. It is important to remember that this is still in the beginning stages by those who are working on it but they are doing a great job so please be patient and understand that it may takes some time to get it fully operational. In the mean time come on over and have some fun!
Monday, July 23, 2012
Now I should be clear here, this is something that I am thinking about but I am not sure that this is going to take effect immediately or anything like that, I will continue to do these current events videos for the current time until I make a clear distinction about what it is that I want to do. Of course all of your opinions are very much appreciated and valued. Please let me know what your thoughts are if you are here and if you have been reading the current events blogs and/or watching the videos.
Although this has been a small video I thought that it would be something I would mention in order to get the thoughts out there and maybe people will give their thoughts and it will help me decide what it is that I do here in the future.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Our second day in the Tokyo Disney Resort was spent at Tokyo Disney Sea. If you have never been to Tokyo Disney Sea this is a park which is themed to the waterfronts of the world. The centerpiece is a large volcano which is the background for the "sea" which is the center of the park. There is the American Waterfront, Mysterious Island, Port Discovery, Mediterranean Harbor, Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast. If you have ever been to EPCOT this is a similar concept. Each area has specialty rides, foods and music which are appropriate for the areas that you visit. You can get curry from the Arabian Coast, Italian food at Mediterranean Harbor and hotdogs at American Waterfront. In the other areas the food is also themed although I will say that Mermaid Lagoon serving seafood just seems wrong but for us humans I suppose that it is acceptable.
Each of these locations makes you feel as though you are really at the different parts of the world which is why I compare it to EPCOT although that is the first and last comparison to be completely honest. Everything else about the park is completely unique in different ways. One of the very interesting things that they have is a hotel, Miracosta, which is actually located in the park. In fact when sitting around waiting for Fantasmic you can see the people in their hotel windows. In my personal opinion this is a great way to add a special something to the park because although the building is beautifully painted and is inside the park the fact that there are naturally people walking around moving in the building behind the curtains, some open some shut lights on and off in a completely candid way. It's a great thing in my opinion.
There are some places which are in the park which are completely based on the imaginary places created by novels such as Journey To The Center Of The Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. The theming of this area is absolutely amazing. This area is tucked behind the volcano and therefore you need to walk through a cave to get to this area. When you emerge you find yourself inside the novels themselves. When you are in this area you can find yourself unable to see anything else around the park which is fantastic. There are a few different things that are worth mentioning in this area. An important thing to note is that there are a lot of shady areas in this area to include Journey To The Center Of The Earth.
There are a lot of other fun things to do around the park and tons of great photo opportunities around the park although some of them may be . . . . . strange. Regardless it's a fun place to be. You will hear me talk more about this park here in the near future. Overall this park is a great place especially for the adult guests. Stay tuned for more fun facts and information in the next week.
We had the advantage of special park passes which allowed us into a special area where we could get into the park 15 minutes early which was great. This was one of the advantages of staying on Disney property and we took advantage of this as often as we could. Fifteen minutes might not seem like a lot but it was enough to get yourself ahead of the rest of the people and get on some of the rides before others were allowed into the park.
Although I had done my research about the time when we were traveling I didn't realize that this "off season" would be the way that it was. We did start enjoying the parks on Wednesday which was mid week but there seemed to be no one (at least compared to my last trip to the resort) here. We were able to get onto a number of rides that usually would have long waits all before lunch. To be truthful we really didn't know what to do with ourselves. We had enjoyed a few things as far as shopping and really strolled around the shops and saw what they had to offer. We also took some time to really see what the park had to offer as far as food went although we didn't eat everything we saw. I will be making a post in the future completely dedicated to food so when that time comes around I will make sure I go over absolutely everything that you might find at the park so you don't feel like you will be eating rice and sushi the entire time if you choose to visit.
Over all the day at Tokyo Disneyland was great! We had the chance to see a lot and also just relax. There were some set backs like a little bit of rain and some of the shows were canceled because of the high winds but this was nothing that we couldn't deal with. To be honest I am trying to think of actual draw backs from the day and I can't think of any. The park was clean the staff were friendly everything went really well.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
We started off the day with some coffee which I had packed for the trip. This turned out to be a very useful thing especially the "blendy sticks" that I had also taken along with me which gave the coffee that gourmet taste without the gourmet price. If you are into paying over $10.00 for your coffee there are a number of places in the local shopping center known as Ikspiari where you can find a variety of places that serve up almost anything you can think of but more about that later. The Ambassador Hotel did offer up a few different types of hot drinks such as instant stir and go coffee as well as tea but I am glad that I had brought along my drip coffee especially with the amount of coffee that we drank.
It was a long flight for my mom who was coming from Boston so we decided to start the day off at Chef Mickey's and then spend some time in the area at Ikspiari seeing as it was very close to the hotel, in fact it was about a 5 minute walk from the elevator to Ikspiari itself. We had actually planned on going to various other places in Tokyo to explore, however, the sheer size of Ikspiari coupled with the amount of food, shopping and entertainment offered ended up keeping us entertained for most of the day.
To be completely honest although it would have been fun to go from place to place as I had originally planned I was actually blown away by the variety of what was offered at Ikspiari. If you are familiar with the Disney Resorts around the world, mainly Walt Disney World, I would compare Ikspiari to Down Town Disney. There is a movie theater, live shows, food and various shopping all with the high quality Disney customer service that you would expect from the company. There are, however, some main differences. Although there is a Disney Store there are very few Disney themed shops in Ikspiari which was nice. There were also a lot of places which were more practical rather than novelty. For example they don't have places like the magnet store which only sells magnets but they do have various clothing stores, cosmetic stores as well as some familiar brands like Coach and Lush.
If you do not want to shop there are various other areas you can explore like the large court yard with a stage in the center where there are various acts for everyone to enjoy. Although we did not sit down to watch any of the shows in particular we did see a bit of one where a man was doing tricks on the stage with the help from the audience. It seemed silly to me but the crowd seemed to like it and were very involved. These shows seemed to happen every night although we did not see a schedule nor did we watch every night so we took it as more of something to see if you happened to be in the area. The rest of the area is just beautiful though, there are flowers which were just fantastic and the sights and sounds were very enjoyable.
I do, however, think that it is important to note that although it is a nice place to stroll this is still a high traffic area. Although it is not as high traffic as some areas in Tokyo might be it is still Tokyo and you will experience the hustle and bustle of the city so be aware of that. If you have children strollers will be just fine but I would think twice about having young ones walking freely because of the amount of people and the slightly confusing layout of the area.
So you want to save all of your money for Disney merchandise, I understand, but everyone's got to eat! I was incredibly pleased with the food options which were available at Ikspiari. No matter what you are looking for or what type of food you enjoy you can find it here. . . somewhere. And you can even find those places that you otherwise would have searched all over Tokyo to find, right here, at your fingertips. Rainforest Cafe was no surprise but I was pleased to see that there was a Sweets Paradise which I had been searching all over for. Other restaurant options included Yakiniku, Italian, Sushi, Traditional Japanese, Tempaura and more. If you wanted to grab something for your room there are various places like a grocery store where you can pick up various international favorites. The prices were a little steep compared to what I am used to but according to Mom they weren't that bad and were rather affordable in many cases. There were also other places where you could get fresh foods such as sushi, rice balls and various other favorites. This was in my opinion much more affordable and I wish I would have seen this sooner. There are also places where you can get hotdogs and sandwiches if you are not in the mood to try some different Japanese style foods although I should warn you that many of the American foods are a bit overpriced because they are a special treat.
Overall this is a fantastic area and certainly worth the trip if you are in the Tokyo Disney Resort Area. It's also a little taste of Japan Shopping even if you are not out in the city and stay in the Tokyo Disney Resort.
Here are some more photos from Ikspiari including some of the foods that we got from the grocery store:
The service was great and the prices were typical so I really can't say anything bad about that. They also had many of the favorites that you might find at any Rainforest Cafe with the addition of some Japanese style specialties to include a salad which included raw seafood. Before I continue any further it is important to note that if you are interested in going to the Rainforest Cafe and have not been here before you should know that it is loud and exciting. If you are looking for a quiet or romantic sit down restaurant this is most likely not for you. There are "animals" around the entire restaurant which "act up" from time to time as well as "thunder storms" which happen every so often. I would not imagine that this would be the place to bring children who may be fearful of these types of things. This wasn't a problem for my mother or myself though.
The service was great and the food came quick. Once it arrived it was delicious too! The staff was friendly and although they did not speak English well they did do their best to take my mother's order and there were no mistakes.
RATING: I give this restaurant a 10 our of 10. There was nothing that I could honestly say they needed to improve on that I was aware of.
If you are interested in going to the Rainforest Cafe in Ikspiari I would definitely recommend it.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
There is no better way to start off your trip with a nice filling breakfast and we did just that at the Tokyo Disney Resort Ambassador Hotel's restaurant "Chef Micky's". Like the Chef Mickey's located at different Disney Resorts around the world this restaurant offers a nice dining location for families as well as adult groups/couples to enjoy a hearty breakfast no matter what you enjoy eating. From steamed Japanese veggies and dumplings to jelly beans trust me when I say there is something for everybody.
The breakfast was very affordable at 3300 yen per adult for an all you can eat buffet. There was no posted time limits on the buffet although I assume it would be the standard 90 minutes the they have at other all you can eat places in Japan. The selection was HUGE and in fact I didn't even scrape the surface with what I ate. I also made the mistake of having two Micky pancakes which were very heavy and filling although they were amazingly delicious. There was fresh fruit, veggies, pastries, meats, pancakes, cereals, rice, curry, and so much more! The down side is that for two people it felt a little bit cramped. The table we were at was small and in a corner which made it hard to get in and out to see the characters without disturbing the two girls that were along side of us. Of course it's Disney and everyone was very understanding of what was going on because that is the nature of the restaurant but still I think it is worth mentioning if you are planning on going with just yourself and one other person.
The cast members were very helpful and most spoke either English or would alter the way they spoke Japanese to a more understandable vocabulary. If there was a misunderstanding then they would quickly either get someone to assist or they would find out how to ask the question in English before returning to the table. That made everything very helpful and less stressful especially for my mom who wasn't sure how to communicate what she wanted. I should also mentioned that regardless the fact that I could have assisted my mom before I had the chance to even explain that Japanese was ok for me the cast member would have already rushed away to get a statement translated. . . it was that quick.
The main dish, as far as my mother was concerned that is, were jelly beans. There were 4 different containers of jelly beans of mixed flavors for you to enjoy. They were also Jelly Belly brand which was surprising to me because usually Chef Micky's has candy for breakfast but not high quality beans like this. Everything was good and high quality though so I really can't say anything bad. There were also only 4 characters which was fine with me but I understand how some people may not have been pleased with that. The characters came around much more quickly than they do at Chef Mickey's in Walt Disney World but nonetheless it was still fine with me.
All of the characters were very "physical" in that they would shake your hand, give you a kiss or whatever else. For me I am tall so they pulled me down so I would be at their level. I had a great time taking photos with the characters and it was a good chance to get my photos in without having to wait in the lines that there at at the parks. If you want to really have a different variety of characters though, you can go to various character dining options that are around the resort. This is a great chance for you to see everyone but for those who you do not see you can check them out a the parks. They have a TON of characters (even the ones that you haven't seen for years and years) for you to meet and greet. They also have them out for long periods of time so that almost everyone has the chance to see them if they want to.
The Bottom Line:
RATING: 7 out of 10
If you are staying at the Ambassador Hotel then this is a great way to start your Disney trip. The price is right at 3300 yen for an all you can eat buffet with character meet and greet. If you are not at the restaurant early you may find yourself having to use something called "priority seating" which means you can get a ticket to come back to the restaurant at a later designated time rather than having to wait. This is common at other Disney Resorts also and I find it extremely useful.
So why 7 out of 10? The table was just a bit too small in my opinion and just a bit too close to the one next to us especially for a restaurant where you are up and down taking photos with characters. I also would have liked to see maybe just 2 more characters and have them a bit more spread out because it felt just a bit rushed.
Other than those things everything else was GREAT! Definitely something I would recommend.
Purchasing a ticket is really easy. The website is formatted with step by step instructions on how to purchase your tickets which also includes information regarding the choices you make and because they operate out of English speaking countries the site is also available in English which makes the booking stress free. It is important to remember when booking flights through most non-American discount airline websites that the tickets are sold one way only. Although this might be a turn off for some people it's still extremely affordable and extremely easy to do.
Once you have decided when and where you would like to fly to you will then be asked about options for your flight. For me I chose the cheapest option which means that I do not have a refundable or changeable ticket but because I wanted to be safe I chose to pay a bit extra for heavier luggage. This comes at a discounted rate if you do this online as opposed to at the airport once your luggage is weighed. Overall it was still extremely affordable and worth the extra money in my opinion but that's because I do my best to shove as much as possible into my bags and I want to avoid hefty fees later on (at this time I do not know what the extra fees are once at the airport).
Once you have completed the booking process you will then have the ability to pick your seats. In some cases some seats, based on location, come with an extra fee. The fee is extremely small and worth the money if you want a bit more leg space. During the time of my booking none of these seats were available and so I skipped this option. Now that you have completed this process you will review the information and pay for your flight. Enter your credit card information and you will receive a confirmation of payment. Within the next 24 hours you will then receive an itinerary/confirmation email. This will include all the information that you need including your itinerary, in flight services (to including seat numbers that you chose) and all of the information based on what you have to do in order to have a smooth flight.
According to the information (as of July 8 2012) to have a smooth flight JETSTAR AIRLINES* opens web check in 48 hours before your flight, you should arrive at the checkin counter 2 hours before your flight, web checking closes 60 minutes before the flight and the check in counter is closed 30 minutes before the flight. They also ask that you are at your boarding gate 25 minutes before the flight so that you are ready to go. Your itinerary/confirmation email will also include information regarding cabin baggage as well as information regarding checked baggage. From what I can see it looks like your standard airline information so I won't go too much into it.
Making Changes/Web Checkin
The one thing that is super noteworthy about JETSTAR AIRLINES* is that you have the ability to change and make updates to your flight without jumping through hoops. When you do your booking you will put in your email and a password which will essentially become your login information for JETSTAR AIRLINES*. When you type in this information you can check out all of the information about your flight, status, what you purchased and change anything if necessary. I do have to say that I did not require any changes to be made so I do not have first hand experience of this process but I do know that you are capable of changing your seat or upgrading to one that will give you more leg room, upgrading the weight of your luggage or converting the tickets to refundable or transferrable.
Getting To The Airport
Being that I would be on the first JETSTAR flight out of Naha I got to the airport early to ensure that I had enough time to get things figured out if there was any confusion. When I found the counter there was a large area which was being used for the press events that had been happening presumably throughout the day. There was also music, television cameras as well as other media outlets there who were documenting this flight. When the counters were finally opened and I could check in it was speedy even though the staff were clearly new. JETSTAR representatives were assisting the new staff members ensuring that everything that taken care of. I ran into a slight issue with my online check in information. The staff were not familiar with the way that this pass had looked and I was most likely the first one that they had come across but it was acknowledged right away and before long I was on my way to the gate. Once arriving at the gate it was clear that we were one of the first flights out of Naha.
There was a large table with the signature JETSTAR banner as well as an orange carpet which was rolled out. While we were waiting staff members gave us a special JETSTAR bag which included some items to commemorate our flight. Each bag contained some flyers, mouse pad, hat, certificate of boarding (showing the information about the flight) and a stress ball JETSTAR airplane. It was really cute and a nice touch. Finally a woman came by and took our picture which we were allowed to keep also.
The flight out of Okinawa was special but so was the flight that was arriving. In fact is was so special that Miss Okinawa came to welcome the passengers of the first flight arriving in Naha. When the plane arrived it was very exciting. Many people were on their feet looking at the new jet. In fact if you had not known any better you might have through that we were the first people to fly to a mysterious new land on a new type of aircraft that no one had ever used before. There was a lot of excitement!
When finally boarding the flight we were also each handed a teddy bear which had a JETSTAR t-shirt and pilot's coat and goggles. It is incredibly cute and again just another way to excite all of those who were on board, even the adults who were all (well mostly) excited about the stuffy too.
To be completely honest the flight was your typical flight. There are some things to note about the flight, however. There are no free refreshments but you can pay for a variety of drinks and snacks. There is a large assortment also from rice balls to instant ramen to pocky. In my personal opinion the prices were a bit high (pocky and juice box for 500yen or Kirin Chi-hi for 450yen) but I suppose that if you need a snack you can purchase it. You were permitted to bring snacks on the plane so that was good and much more affordable which is what I chose to do. The service was great and the space for each passenger was than of any other plane.
Arriving At Narita
Arriving at Narita (which was our destination) was a bit of a surprise for me. We all got off the plane while it was still on the runway using mobile stairs rather than pulling up to a sky bridge like a typical flight. Once off the plane we then took busses to the terminal where we could retrieve our luggage. This was not a problem and was easy enough although I think that it would have been helpful to know ahead of time if you were flying with young children or a great deal of carry on luggage.
Flight Back To Okinawa
Although the flight out of Naha was very simple and straight forward I feel that it is important to mention the experience I had flying back to Okinawa. Checking in was simple, although it must be done no more than 2 hours before your flight. Once checked in you will then need to bring your luggage to a separate area which was 80 meters from the check in counter and located outdoors. This was inconvenient but easy to find. Once the luggage was taken care of it was time to move to the gate. Much like the arrival in Narita the gate led us to a buss which would then take us to the plane and we would board again on the portable stairs. Once again we were not notified of this ahead of time and I think it would have been appropriate for the airline to let us know especially those with small children and large carry on items.
I give the flight out of Okinawa a 9 out of 10.
They did a great job, however, the only area I felt they could have improved on was being aware that customers could check in online. As I mentioned above I was stopped twice and told to check in again but had to explain that I already had online.
I give the flight out of Narita a 7 out of 10.
There was a slight lack of organization at the bag check in counter which caused delays. Two computers were working and only one person was actually taking bags while 2 others were simply standing around supervising.
Overall JETSTAR gets a 9 out of 10 rating from me.
I would have liked to see water or tea at least complimentary or slightly lower prices on refreshments.
Overall the service was wonderful and there was honestly nothing to complain about. For the price I will SURELY fly JETSTAR again and I definitely recommend them to anyone wanting a low cost flight out of Okinawa.
*JETSTAR AIRLINES is not affiliated with OkiNinjaKitty. This is not a paid endorsement.
Monday, July 9, 2012
It's the time that we've all been waiting for. It's time to kick off Katventures!
Since I said that we are kicking off Katventures you know what that means. . . I am on my way to Tokyo. Over the next week I will be exploring the sights and sounds of Tokyo and unfortunately this means that I will be unable to post my regularly scheduled videos over on the OkiNinjaKitty Youtube Channel. What? You're not subscribed to my Youtube Channel yet? In that case you had better to get over there and hit that subscribe button because there are some extremely exciting videos which are going to be posted there in the coming weeks. I intend to post some teaser videos up that are taken on the fly while I am exploring which will also be broadcasted live on my UStream Chanel. Either way you can find yourself updated with everything that is going on.
So when are the high quality videos and photos going to be posted? Because I don't have the ability to edit and upload (and because I want to have a lot of fun which will lead me to getting YOU the best possible videos) you will be seeing the videos after I return to Okinawa. I know it's a lot of time to wait but I promise it will be worth the wait.
Also don't worry that you won't have something to read over here on the OkiNinjaKitty blog because I have scheduled some fantastically interesting blog posts for you to enjoy during the time that I am gone. They are going to be as closely related to the trip as I can make them. Don't forget to keep shooting me messages and comments because I will answer them all upon my return to Okinawa. That's right. It's going to be a Fan Mail Extravaganza.
There are other ways that you can keep track of my trip. Want to know how:
Check me out on Twitter by looking up @Okininjakitty
Don't forget to check me out on Facebook.
I also now have a new Tumblr.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
The first band to perform was a new artist who I have spoken about before in other posts. She is a 13 year old who has always had the dream of performing at the PLRF since she was 5 years old. To be completely honest I was not skeptical of this young girl when I first read the article but she did blow me away seeing her live. We knew that she was going to be a good performer because she made it through the audition but I had anticipated she would be on stage singing with the band and it would be a great accomplishment and a good performance. Nope, I stand corrected. Not only was this girl a good singer BUT she was also doing it while playing the drums. . . yes that's right what a talent! She told her story which was very cool but then she tells it again, in perfect English. Is there anything that this girl can't do? Of course she has a lot of years ahead of her and I am sure that this means she will only improve and achieve greatness in the future. Keep it up Sakura!
The second band is one of the bands that I could not wait to see and it one of the reasons that I go to the PLRF each year. ZUKAN is a band who comes from Okinawa and are extremely proud of their home town of Kin. (You can see many images of Kin in the video above.) They are extremely energetic and always ready to bring an exciting show playing with the crowd. This year they brought out watermelon for the crowd and sprayed everyone with a squirt gun before throwing it into the crowd. Regardless whether you understand what they are saying you can't help but tap your toes and dance. The music is in my opinion very representative of Okinawa not only in it's feel but also in some cases with the use of "eisa" both in the dance that they do and encourage the crowd to do and in the lyrics themselves. It's a lot of good fun and they certainly did not disappoint this year. They never do!
The third band was one that we had not been familiar with before. I am not sure if they had played PLRF before but if they had it was not within the past 5 years that we have attended. They were very good and we enjoyed them quite a bit. None of the music was recognizable to us but that didn't prevent us from tapping our toes and flapping our fans to the beat. There is a female guitarist or bassist (I really could not tell from where I was sitting) who had fantastic presence and did a great job. It was very cool.
陸奥守吉行 was my favorite band of this entire show. I hate to go ahead and put that down here so soon before I finish talking about the other bands but there is no use in waiting until the end. They had me in the first 30 seconds of their performance as they started all walking out onto the stage and I saw that the sanshin was being played (I am a huge fan of the rock/classic Japanese style music). The fact that they were all dressed in these beautiful Japanese style samurai outfits also added to the appeal of 陸奥守吉行. Once the set started it was all over I was hooked and I needed to get more! The lead singer had a voice that I just can't get enough of and combine that with the sound of the sanshin and mix in rock and it's all over. The music is catchy and the stage presence was just fascinating. I would honestly love to say more about 陸奥守吉行 but to be completely honest there is nothing more to say. The sound was amazing, the performance was amazing, I will be searching for their CD once I get back from Tokyo.
D-51 is a pop group from Okinawa which consists of two main guys. They are usually not very interesting to me because I am not into the type of music or the style of performance but this year my might was slightly changed. Usually they perform with a background track and although they are energetic on stage the performance never really stands up to the rest. This year, however, they surprised us with a full band and background singers which was a great surprise. This had made the performance much more energetic and lively. There is something better about live performances which I enjoyed quite a bit. Although the band does not rank high on my list of favorites (sorry D-51) I did enjoy their show this year better than the previous years.
The first time we saw Civilian Skunk it was last year at the PLRF and they were good then and super cute (they all matched from hair all the way down to their shoes). The music was good but you could tell by their stage presence that they were new to this. They were confident but more into playing music than they were into working the crowd. This year all of that changed. Civilian Skunk has moved up to the top of my "favorites chart". They worked the crowd and have developed their own style. This year they were not matching like last year but they were all dressed fashionably which was super cool because you could tell the personality of each and I think it made them all more comfortable on stage. The show was great and they have already made leaps and bounds. I certainly think they will keep gaining popularity among people here in Okinawa and hopefully expand beyond the island.
Katchan Band. The Okinawa Legend. People come from far and wide to listen to the Katchan Band over at Jack Nasty's on Gate Two Street or at least they did. Jack Nasty's recently closed it's doors (so I read although this could have changed) but the band played on at the PLRF this year. So what to say about Kachan band? If you like everything balanced, understandable and with proper function you are not going to like the Kachan band. They are known for doing something ridiculous, strange and humorous most of the time and in my opinion most people can't wait to go and see how they are going to twist classic rock songs in a way that is going to make you laugh and sing along. This year the Kachan band started off with a woman in a black veil summoning via dance a large egg which was carried on a ritualistic looking platform by about 10 men and pulled by a man dressed like Moses if he were an inmate as he was wearing orange and tied with ropes to this large egg thing. The "egg" was brought down to the stage while the woman continued her summon and it got more intense the closer the egg got. Once the egg was on stage a man dressed like a middle eastern person (white robe with large veil over his head and the tight scarf which circles the veil to keep it on (I am sorry those of you of middle eastern decent I am not sure what any of this is called) comes out and begins singing "born to be wild". The egg eventually hatches to reveal our legend himself who this year is dressed as a monkey with a top hat and exposing his bare bottom to the crowd. (I should mention that this is nothing new for the Kachan band lead singer/main attraction who is often doing something outrageous. He has with him his signature fishing pole with a flying stitch toy on the end so we know it's him for sure, well because of that and the hat. The performance consisted of him singing various songs which everyone knows the words to putting his monkey spin on it grunting and giving an "ug" when the music would make it funny. This continues on the the entire set with the leader making sure that hey is commenting on the crowd. It's a good time but I admit it might not be something for everyone. This was what I considered the best "performance" as it usually ends up being. There is something that has to do with the fun, recognizable music and all around ridiculous nature of the show which screams rock and roll to me.
Freddie Eto & Queeness
Freddie oh Freddie, I can't help but get excited each and every time that this band plays. Freddie Eto & Queeness is a Queen cover band made up of Japanese people. I honestly am not sure where they are from but they rock the house each and every year. The best part about all of this is that they take the performance to the next level. Although Freddie is short and quite a bit bigger than Freddie Mercury was he still keeps true to the movements, the way he walks all the way down to the way that he talks to the audience. That's right he speaks in English and with an English accent. Does it get any better than that? The way that he plays with the crowd all the way down the the way that he interacts with other band members screams QUEEN! It's a lot of fun especially for those of us who know all the queen songs by heart.
I am not going to lie I very much anticipated this band since I saw that they were playing. There was something about the picture of them on the flyer which interested me and then when I looked them up WOW I was even more interested. You don't have to read Japanese to understand that the name of this band has the man symbol in it as well as "men" so what's up with this? Well in short these girls are actually guys. Yeah that's right no lady parts under those cute outfits. If you weren't confused already this group does not even pretend to be girls at all. They all speak like men and are clearly a group of men who dress like women to sing and dance. It's almost comedic, their act that is, especially the way that they conduct themselves which is clearly to show that they are men. The show started out, for example, with the lead singer demanding that everyone come down the the center of the arena in front of the stage because they came all the way from Tokyo. He was loud and used a roaring voice which was in and of itself. In fact he stated that he would be taking three minutes for everyone to figure out what they were doing and come down to be part of the crowd. There is a lot more that was said but my listening skills are not very good when someone is speaking as fast as he was. Once he started singing I was again taken by surprise when they opened with a metal song (not heavy metal but close enough for me to raise an eyebrow). They continued on with another exercise like song which was hilarious in my honest opinion especially because a lot of people who were exercising with the band. It was. . . ridiculous and great at the same time. Ultimately they kept us guessing the entire time which was great.
We ended up leaving after this band because we were beat by this time and we had seen everyone we wanted to. There were a few more bands that played this evening but we called it quits because we were both exhausted and in need of something cold and refreshing. Overall the event was great as it is every year. We didn't go for the second day but I am sure that the bands were wonderful as well. I cannot wait for next year. I am hoping that some of these bands come back because I would love to see them again! So did you go to the PLRF? If you did leave your comments below!
Friday, July 6, 2012
"Do you speak Japanese?"
I can speak some Japanese but not as much as I would like to. I can also read and write but my vocabulary is very limited as far as understanding most of what I am reading although I am improving every day through lots of tedious practice. I have a few different blog posts about this but I also plan to discuss more about this in the future in a video.
"Is it difficult to learn the ways of the road?"
Learning the ways of the road are relatively easy. We do drive on the "wrong" side of the road here although that is super easy to get used to if you focus on driving. The road signs are relatively easy to learn also because in my opinion they are straight forward, although, you can and should go online and study the signs especially because you will be tested when you arrive here in you choose to drive.
So what else is there to know about driving here. . . . there is a lot to talk about here and so I might not be able to cover every detail in this particular post or in the corresponding video. Let's see if I can go through a number of these without going into too much detail and if you have any further questions please let me know and I will ensure that I get your answers to you as soon as possible.
- Call Phones: Put them down. It is illegal to use your cell phone while driving in Okinawa and you'll need all of your attention on the road anyway.
- Motorcycles and Scooters: They're out there and they use the road so be aware of them. They will also share a lane with cars from time to time which is perfectly legal.
- Three Car Rule At Lights: It is not uncommon to see up to three people run the red light before they are considered out of line. I would not advise doing this yourself because it can be very dangerous but it is something you should be aware of.
- Speeding when cops aren't around isn't necessarily the best idea because Okinawa is equipped with speed cameras which will take a photo if you are exceeding the limit and have a ticket mailed to you. Yes even if you are American. And they are not always obvious as they are in some of the US locations where they have been installed.
- There is a lot of traffic here and therefore you are significantly closer than you would be in your home town so be aware of this and pay attention to the road.
- There are stickers which indicate when a driver is over a certain age (very old) or a new driver. Be aware that if you strike one of these drivers you will most likely be at more fault for not keeping an eye out for them as they have stickers displayed.
- Everyone involved in an accident is responsible to some extent. Period.
- Don't drink and drive. They take that very seriously here not only for you the driver but everyone in the car and even people who sent you on your way knowing that you had some drinks.
I hope that this is helpful.
The last two topics I am not going to discuss because I have already made previous blog posts about them due to the involvement I wanted to provide in the answer. Thanks so much for reading and again please let me know if you have any other questions.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Today a post was made both here on the blog and over at the OkiNinjaKitty Channel. Here's the video if you wanted to take a look:
Not long after the video posted a comment was made which asked me the following:
"Have you read Hillary Clinton's book, "It Takes A Village"?? If so, do you think her theory that everyone is responsible for the village children would work in Okinawa? If not, would you agree that Okinawans "parent" their own children starting at home and do not expect the village to do the "parenting" out on the street or at the mall?"
This is a great question! I wanted to respond right away but because of the character limit on YouTube comments I took some time in order to organize my thoughts so I could summarize what I wanted to say all while fitting in the space provided. Then I realized. . . . I've got a blog I can use as much space as I need to answer and so here we are. Because there are a few different parts to this question I am going to take it piece by piece and hopefully it makes it easier to write about and communicate what I am trying to say.
"Have you read Hillary Clinton's book, "It Takes A Village"??"
I unfortunately have not read the book "It Takes A Village" but I am very familiar with the concept that the book is said to discuss.
"If so, do you think her theory that everyone is responsible for the village children would work in Okinawa?"
The more that I examine this part of the question the more complicated my response becomes so hang in there with me for a moment here while I try to take what is in my head and communicate it with words that people other than myself will understand. In many ways I believe that this "it takes a village" theory is very much in place here in Okinawa but not necessarily in the way that we might envision it as Americans. What I mean by this is that here in Okinawa it seems as though the "village" is the family. Children are taken care of my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great great grand parents (it is Okinawa after all), aunts, uncles and other family members who may be part of the large family structure which seems to be common among Okinawa's families. It is common for families to also do things together so in short there is always someone to keep their eye on the child. For example if you go to a local shopping center mom may be doing the groceries but the child is upstairs in the children's area with grandpa. I have also known people who feel that their children are not quite well enough behaved to bring into public situations and therefore they choose to have a grandparent babysit while they are out and about.
Now I realize that depending on your views you may feel that this is not necessarily an illustration of the "it takes a village" theory but let me explain for a moment what brings me to feel as though it is. Based on the experiences that I have had with some of Okinawa's families there is a lot for the children to learn within the family structure. Discipline, recreation activities (playing, gardening, cooking) and how to conduct yourself in social situations all seem to be learned through interaction with different members of the family structure. This is enforced when the family comes together and eventually when families spend time in more social situations with outside groups (being in public). Each and every family member has something to offer and therefore this brings me to my observation that this theory is very much practiced here in Okinawa.
"If not, would you agree that Okinawans "parent" their own children starting at home and do not expect the village to do the "parenting" out on the street or at the mall?"
Even in the case of the family being the "village" yes I would agree that most Okinawans "parent" their own children starting at home. There is a certain level of discipline that the child must have before going to a grandparent's house so that the grandparents are not burdened. There will eventually be another level of discipline that a child must have before going into public/social situations so that others are not burdened. Remember people in Okinawa are relatively non-confrontational and have a certain respect for the people around them. If there is something that they as a parent do not feel is acceptable the prevent it from happening, even if it means removing a child from a situation completely, before a stranger has to mention it to them.
As always I do need to stress that there are people out there, as there are anywhere else, who do not have the same feelings towards respecting others and avoiding confrontation. for the most part, however, they seem to be far and few in-between. There is always an exception to every rule. With that being said I hope that I was able to offer an answer to this question. If there are any other ares that you feel I need to clarify on please let me know.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way let me explain why I am writing this post and what you can expect from the content. I was recently asked a question from a reader who had previously read a post where I explained that here in Okinawa we use out indoor voices even when we are outside. She explained that she has a young child who enjoys yelling, running and playing and wanted to know whether or not people in Okinawa would actually get angry at this occurring. In this post I am going to offer my observations both from what I see, what I have experienced speaking with various people from Okinawa and Japan. Before we begin there are a few things that I want to make clear that may give you a bit of perspective from where I am coming from. I have been working with children and their parents for over 12 years now. The fact that children can be difficult is not lost on me but neither is the fact that nothing is impossible with a lot of hard word, consistency and dedication. Again this is not a parenting guide, all I am offering is words of encouragement for those out there who might be reading this feeling like ever gaining control of their child is helpless. The second thing to make clear is that I am offering your real life answers to your questions. I'm telling it how it is. If you are looking for someone who is going to tell you that even if your child hurls food across a restaurant regularly you should still take them out because the staff and other people won't mind this is not going to be the post for you. Finally I ask that, as I do for all my posts, you read this with an open mind and an understanding that when coming to Okinawa you are entering an entirely different culture. Regardless if we are talking about children, food or driving in your car some changes to the way you look at things are ultimately going to have to be made. As always my goal here in to inform so that you don't have any surprises. I hope that you find this post beneficial and of course if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to leave them in he comments or email me at email@example.com.
"Using Indoor Voices"
As I had said in the post that I had listed above it is common practice for people to use their indoor voices throughout Japan, even when outside. Let's talk a little bit about this. American's are loud, there's no way around it. The kids are loud, the adults are loud the cars are loud. . . . . we're loud. In Japan, and particularly Okinawa this is not the case. It's quite here which is why you see me say that using your indoor voice is "common practice" and not "common courtesy". Again (I know I have talked about this in other posts but for the sake of ensuring I am consistent) it is about the culture. This is a laid back relaxed quiet culture and does take some adjustment when you come here. There is also a different attitude when it comes to being out in public places (which we will get into here in a bit so keep reading). Some places are for relaxing, some places are for conducting business and other places are for having fun. A great deal of consideration is taken by all people to ensure that you are able to relax, conduct business or have fun at these various facilities and therefore I believe it is safe to assume that everyone, including foreigners, have the same type of consideration when out in public.
"Kids will be kids"
It's no surprise to me, or to anyone else in my honest opinion, that kids have their moments. After all they are still learning how to handle themselves in public situations, control their emotions and overall function as a part of society. There are going to be up's and down's and yes from time to time dreaded center of the aisle tantrum. That's life. Are the people here in Okinawa going to get angry with you? To be honest this completely depends on how you handle the situation as a parent. Again, it's a different culture here and therefore some of the parenting techniques that are acceptable in the US may not be as accepted in public here. To better illustrate what I am talking about let's go over some of these techniques:
The Separation Technique-
Ok. . . . so I don't know what you would call this but I am coining it as "The Separation Technique" maybe you have used this technique as a parent or if you are like me it was used on you as a kid. So what is The Separation Technique? This is when a child , who is of an age where they can walk on their own and/or are not sitting in a stroller, is misbehaving and/or not listening. The parent then starts to walk away from the child saying something like "Ok. . . . . . bye. . . . . I'm leaving now. . . . " until the child decides to go with the parent rather than being separated. Usually with each remark the volume of the parent's voice increases and potentially the pitch gets higher and higher but that is depending on each parent's preference. The Separation Technique.
This technique is not necessarily one that would be acceptable to use here especially if you know that it will result in your child becoming overly upset. Remember it's quiet here so doing something that might involve you becoming intentionally loud or that might trigger your child to become overly upset is going to get a bad reaction from the people around you. This also leads us to the next technique. . . .
Raising of the Voice Technique-
As you might imagine in a society where people are quiet raising your voice at your child is not necessarily something you might want to resort to. I won't hold it against you but trust me when I say an American raising their voice in a shopping center in Okinawa is like Zeus' thunderous voice calling down from Olympus.
If you want to know when people in Okinawa are going to become upset or even angry at the behavior of a child it is almost always when the parent is using a technique which I refer to as the "Avoidance Technique". This is when a parent completely avoids any and all confrontation with their child allowing them to conduct themselves in any manner they so choose. In other words the parent completely ignores the child altogether as well as any consequences or effects that their child's behavior may have. An example of this might be a baby in a fancy restaurant. (One might wonder why there is a baby in a fancy restaurant in the first place but we'll get there in another post.) If the baby cries and the parent tries to sooth the baby or if the crying continues removes the baby from the situation there will be no problem. However, suppose the baby is crying and neither parent makes any attempt to stop the child from crying but just allows it to happen. This would cause anger or frustration with the people around you because you are not being considerate by even making an attempt to sooth the child.
Overall what I hope that I was able to illustrate with what I have said above is that yes things are different here. You are going to have to take a few things you wouldn't normally into consideration but overall if you remember to be considerate to those people around you and try to prevent and stop situations which might disrupt people around you then you have nothing to worry about. If you, on the other hand, don't care about other people or how what you or your child does affects them than yes you are gong to cause frustration and in some cases you may even cause a disadvantage for others in the future, but more about that later.
Child Friendly Places
With all this talk about keeping in line there is bound to be places where kids can REALLY be kids right? Absolutely! In fact one of the things that I found remarkable about Okinawa is the fact that there seem to be parks (and I don't mean the ones where the old people walk and enjoy the sunshine but ones with swings and kid stuff) all over the place. Not only is there one in almost ever neighborhood but they are clean and well kept too. These are places where kids can get out of the everyday shell and just enjoy being a kid. There are usually swings, things to climb on, sand and almost always some sort of large and ridiculous slide. Not only are these fun places to take your kids but they are also nice places for you to sit and enjoy being a parent with covered tables and benches as well as usually a water fountain so that you can keep yourself refreshed.
If you are willing to pay a little bit of money to give your kid the chance to play there are various other places where you can take them for some indoor fun. Although I do not often remember the names of these places because I personally do not frequent them there is one which is referred to as the Jungle something and another one which is located in a San A in the Naha Area. There are also sometimes special performances at shopping centers and even times of the year where they set up ball pits and bouncy houses right int he shopping centers for the kids to enjoy. These indoor areas are great for air conditioned fun especially in the summertime when mom's and dad's want to avoid that summer sun.
If you want to be out in the sun there are also a variety of playgrounds, such as the one at Araha Beach, which are on the beach. The kiddles can play in the sand and pretend to be a pirate while mom or dad sits in the sun and works on his/her tan. . . we are on a tropical island after all might as well look like it. This particular playground is known for being a lot of fun among many of the military families because of it's location in central Okinawa as well as being a 1 minute walk from pirate ship to ocean with a bathroom near by (although be warned the are squatty potties) and a refreshments stand.
Of course you are going to want to be a tourist sooner or later and there are many child friendly tourist destinations as well. This would include the Aquarium and Okinawa World. These are both great fun for kids offer fun activities for children and over all are safe even if you have a child who likes to dart out of your sight.
Places Not For Every Child
Like anywhere else there may be places where you don't want to take your kids. I will maybe go over more of these places in the future but for the sake of this post and the topic that we are on I am going to take about places you might not want to take your child if they are a screamer or a runner.
For a moment let's go back culture (don't worry I will do my best to summarize). Here in Okinawa the outdoors are very important to people for various reasons some religious. This is why when visiting some places you may find yourself encountering people praying, shrines or monuments. These things can be found at parks (the big and culturally protected ones not the ones that I described above), castle ruins, caves and shrines. People regularly visit these locations to honor ancestors or pray and therefore when visiting these sites it is important to ensure that you are doing so with the upmost respect and consideration for the people around you. This may be a tourist destination for you but it is a huge piece of history and culture for the people of the island.
The reason that I have titled this section "The Screamer" is because for children who have an uncontrolled desire to scream and/or yell this may not be the place you want to take them. Remember this is a place of worship for many and in some cases people travel great distances (even from Mainland Japan) to worship at these sites.
When it comes to children who run it no longer becomes a matter of consideration for other people, in my opinion, but more a matter of safety. The one thing that you will notice about Okinawa when you first get here is that it is considerably smaller here than it is in the US. In stores, for example, aisles are half the size that you might find in the US. In many cases it's just enough for two people with shopping carts to pass through and corners are very tight so the odds of your child running through the store and getting hit by someone's shopping cart or accidentally running into a display case are pretty good. This isn't really the concern though. There is a bigger concern for parking lots in which people drive considerably faster than they should most of the time. The biggest concern in my opinion, however, is when taking your children to tourist locations much like the ones I mentioned above (Caves, Shrines, Recreational Parks and Castle Ruins). Many of these places have stairs and walkways made of coral which is sharp and slick. Stairways are also extremely steep as if you are climbing a mountain (I realize that seems exaggerated but I honestly do not know how else to describe it) These castle ruins are also built on mountain tops which undoubtably mean that there are cliffs in some cases they are straight drop offs. I have seen them and yes they are there without any barrier. Again it is a matter of knowing your child and determining whether you believe they are capable of handling a trip to a location such as this.
With all this being said what can we really conclude here? To be honest I leave it to you. Questions or Comments can be left below or you can email me at OkiNinjaKitty@yahoo.com. If you would like more information about kid friendly activities please let me know and I will be happy to do some research and post information. Thanks for reading and I hope that you find this post helpful.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
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?
Leave me a comment below, on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
There are a number of things that we can talk about her but for the sake of today's post let's talk about three things that I think are definite No-No's when traveling to Tokyo. Without further delay let's get right into it!
Do NOT try to imitate the fashions.
When traveling to Tokyo (or any part of Japan as far as I am concerned) it can be tempting to dress the way you see people dress in photos and on blogs. These elaborate and at times wacky outfits are fantastic, don't get me wrong, but when traveling to Tokyo I would say that they are something to avoid. The reason for this? Well it's simple. The odds are you are coming to Tokyo from another country, you spent a lot of money on this trip. Enjoy it. Fashion is great. I am a huge advocate of getting out there, expressing yourself and being who you are or even creating a you that you've always wanted. I just personally believe that comfort will ensure that you have a better time on a trip like this.
Do NOT go to Tokyo without a plan.
There is so much going on in Tokyo that you might think it is incredible unnecessary to make a plan but the fact is there is a good chance that if you don't make a plan you will find yourself missing out. You don't necessarily have to follow the plan as if it were law but it will give you a direction to move and therefore give you the opportunity to see more. Also be sure to plan to eat. Find a few places where you might want to try in the area you are visiting and list them so when you want some food you know where they are and what they offer. It is not uncommon for you to get so excited that you pass by a place to eat and realize that it was your only place to eat and now it is packed solid.
Do NOT rush through Tokyo.
When I say this I am talking from the moment you get out of the plane to the moment you try and get on a train. Tokyo is much easier to get around for the English speaker than people might think BUT you have to be patient and take time to see what is around you. It is not uncommon to find English on signs at stations and airports but you may have to step back a moment and wait for them to change to your language. Also consider that there are sometimes English maps where you can check information but you will again need to take a second look for them (they are not hard to find) and then at times you may have to do a matching game with the kanji and English words so you can get on the right train. It's not hard but it does require patience. Yes people around you will be rushing and traveling quickly, they live in Tokyo they know what they are doing, but just take a slow pace and enjoy yourself.
Do NOT just travel to say you have been places.
I will be talking more specifically about travel in another post but it is important to make sure you are traveling to do things that actually interest you. If you are not interested on going up to the tallest tower in Tokyo don't do it. If you don't have any interest in seeing the buildings in Shibuya because you live in a city, don't do it. See the things you want to see and do the things you want to do. Stay away from the travel guide books and just enjoy doing things you enjoy.
I hope that this post helps those of you who are interested in traveling to Tokyo. Please stay tuned for more information about Tokyo in the near future.
Monday, July 2, 2012
If you are a follower of both the blog and the videos that I post you are probably aware that last week I did not have a proper current events video. The fact of the matter is that there just weren't enough stories to report and I didn't feel as though they were interesting enough to keep you guys entertained and therefore I had just talked about what was going on for me. Luckily this week there have been a number of stories that I can comment on and therefore there will be a proper blog and video. This week I am also going to try something a little bit different. Not only am I going to talk about some of the news but here on the blog I am also going to include some of my opinion too. I am not sure how it will go with those of you who are reading this but be sure to let me know and maybe we will continue this type of thing.
Peaceful Love Rock Festival
Okinawa has it's share of awesome events here throughout the year but one of the best in my opinion is the Peaceful Love Rock Festival. If you are not familiar the PLRF is a two day rock and roll festival that happens in one of the local bull rings. There are a wide variety of bands from and different styles. From what I understand these bands are either invited or they audition for their slot. Tickets are about $40.00 per day which is a BARGIN for the amount of bands that you can see some of which could be such names as Orange Range who is a well known band from here in Japan.
Going to this festival is tradition for myself and my husband and we have been going each and every year. Usually we go for both days because we want to see certain bands but because of obligations and the upcoming trip that I will be taking we plan to only attend for the first day. This is an extremely enjoyable event although it can be hot and requires a great deal of preparation. So what can you expect if you want to go to this event. It is an outdoor concert and it's hot. It's also one of those venues where you are going to find yourself sitting either on the floor or on chairs if you choose to bring them. If you do please be considerate for the people around you and sit in the back so those who choose to sit on the floor are not blocked by you. If you choose to bring your kids that's fine although I would steer clear away from bringing very young children due to the heat but again that's completely up to you. There is food and drinks. Also there are most certainly alcoholic drinks so be aware of that if you would prefer not to be in an area where others may be consuming alcohol. For the most part there is an understanding that you conduct yourself a certain way and people seem to do well with this however I would not rule out the chance that there could be some sort of drunk guys stumbling around. Actually I actually guarantee it.
American Kids Avoid Arrest
Two American dependent children have avoided arrest after setting up bowling pins across the Okinawa Expressway. Bother children were under the age of 15. The Okinawa Expressway is very similar to what you would call a highway in the United States although this is a toll road. These two children put bowling pins across the expressway and therefore cars passing by hit them causing damage to the vehicles. Luckily no one was injured including the kids or the drivers however there was damage (as one might imagine) to the cars after hitting the bowling pins. The Japanese Police required the children to cover damages of the vehicles and issue formal apologies but did not arrest the children. They had explained that the children are young and therefore they would avoid charges. This, however, did not end the story for the children. Both were confined to the military bases until arrangements were made to send them back to the United States.
This is an unfortunate and troubling story for me. To be completely honest the first thing that comes to mind is that these two children are incredibly lucky that during the time that they were placing these bowling pins they were not hit by an oncoming car and potentially killed. They were also incredibly lucky that a larger accident was not caused resulting in injury and death. With these two things in perspective it is hard for me to think that the punishment they received is unjust.
Clarification was made by the US government that the osprey will be departing from all of the military bases in Okinawa and not just MCAS Futenma. There is really not much more to say about this story to be completely honest other than the fact that this should be a concern for everyone who lives on or near where these planes will be flying. At this current time the US government is trying to deny that the aircraft is unsafe although there have been countless occurrences which go against this claim. Personally as an American I don't think that this aircraft is worth the risk both for the men and women who are on board and for the families both American and Japanese who are in the path of this aircraft.
OTHER JAPAN NEWS
Did you know that there is going to be a Resident Evil restaurant in Tokyo? That's right in fact this restaurant is opening up here on the 13th in Shibuya. For those of you who don't know Resident Evil (or as it is known here Biohazard) is a video game about zombies (and much more but I am not a gamer so please feel free to leave more info in comments below). There is also another version of this game being released here soon and therefore the best thing to do to promote that is to open a theme restaurant here. So they are doing that.
Before anyone who is reading this asks yes I will be in Tokyo during this opening but I will not be attending. Not only am I not a fan of the video game but I also am not willing to stand in the lines that are going to be outside during my trip. I will be with my mom and there are other things which are important to me so I am going to take advantage of those things rather than going to this place. Don't worry though I am sure that there are going to be a ton of other people who will be out and sending you videos and photos and all that great stuff about this restaurant.
This is basically all that I have for now. I am sorry that I do not have more and I hope that you didn't mind my opinions being thrown in there here and there. Until next time thanks for reading and I hope that you enjoyed!
Please keep in mind: The content of this post and video is not focused on changing your military career. I have no idea how one would go about doing that and therefore I am in no position to speak about that. This will be regarding civilians (spouses, dependents and other foreigners). As always if you have more information please feel free to share it in the comments below and if you want information please let me know and I will see what I can do for you.
Now that you know why I was compelled to write this post let's get right into some of the issues that you might want to take into consideration when trying to test the new waters of an occupation during your time here in Okinawa.
The first and most important thing to remember when considering a change of occupation during your time here in Okinawa is that any and all schools that you attend outside of the programs offered by the military bases are going to be conducted in Japanese. Okinawa is not a US territory and the native language here is Japanese. This means that any and all classes taught in any and all schools here (other than the Japanese As A Second Language School) will be taught in Japanese. If you are a regular reader or viewer you may then be asking "How is this the case? Didn't you say a lot of people in Okinawa speak English?". Yes there are a lot of people out here who speak some English which makes a basic conversation in English something possible but that does not mean that they speak enough English to hold a class in English.
"What are my options"
When it comes to language you have a few simple options. The first is to take a class that is offered by the US Military. These classes will in English and will be conducted like any other programs that you may have the ability to take in the US aside from some time differences. This is unfortunately your only option unless you have a pretty decent command of the Japanese language in which you can read, listen, and write. If you do have this command of the Japanese language your only limit is what is offered here on Okinawa.
The second thing to consider is that while you are in Okinawa you are living on an island. For many Americans island life is not something we are familiar with. For us almost anywhere within the US, Canada and even Mexico is reachable by car so long as you have the resources and the will to go. This is not the case here in Okinawa. For example we do not have esthetician schools here on this island nor do we have other learning establishments similar to bartender schools, tattoo schools or other trade schools. From my understanding speaking with people at the salon that I go to if you want to study certain things you will usually go to mainland Japan to complete your study and then potential return back here or potentially get a job somewhere else in Mainland. Of course as I said this also depends on whether or not you can speak Japanese.
"What are my options"
If you can speak Japanese and have an excess of funds you can potentially commute to Mainland Japan each day and take your classes. Many people from Okinawa commute to Mainland Japan each day although I honestly am not sure why one would want to do that with the 2 to 3 hour flight and the cost of the flights. (Note: There are commuter packages which make the flights much less expensive than what you or I might pay to take a trip up to Mainland for the weekend but I still imagine that it is rather expensive.) Of course this is depending if you speak Japanese or not and I would also note that I am not sure of what schools may or may not be available in the Mainland Japan. That would require a great deal of research that I did not complete because I am here in Okinawa.
If you are only an English speaker you still have a large variety of options if you have access to the military bases. One of the things that the bases have is universities where you can study a number of different subjects. These universities sometimes offer certificate programs also which allow you to study for a short time and get your certificate in something that may start you on the track to a new occupation.
Your third option is to take classes online. This is something that many people do and it can be done rather easily and in some cases can offer you more variety than what is here on the island. This will open doors to things that you may be more interested in.
Changing occupation without schooling:
The odds of you being here in Okinawa do more than a few years are slim. It's just the way that it is here for most people so what are you to do if you don't want to complete an educational program but you can't wait to get out of your current occupation? There are some ways for you to get what you need also. If you are a US citizen regardless your current affiliation with the military you can apply to work with the US military bases. You can also apply for jobs on the military bases if you are Japanese but that is a topic for an entirely different blog. Anyway there are tons of jobs available in different areas. Some require a great deal of experience while others do not require a great deal of experience at all. If you are determined to get out of your current occupation you can give these types of jobs a shot and may find yourself on the path to something different and also finding yourself expanding your resume which is always a good thing. For the purpose of this blog I am not going to go into detail about how to find and get a job here. This is a topic that requires a lot of attention to detail and if you are interested in hearing about it please let me know and I will go into ever detail that I can for you. For now, however, we're going to stick to the fact that there are jobs out there all you have to do is apply and see why happens.
If you want to make a little bit of money, don't want to go through the trouble of applying for another job and don't want to learn a new job you can also go for some of the many options that you have which anyone can get into and almost anyone can do. There are various candle, jewelry and fitness supplement "party" programs out there where you can sell the products and get a profit. This is not necessarily what I would consider a reliable source of income but if you are one of the many who just wants a little pocket change once in a while you might find yourself interested in taking part in this sort of thing. To be honest I am not familiar with this type of program either because it is not something that I have done but it is something that I am sure you can find our more information about be searching online for your favorite company.
Word of Caution:
Just as anywhere else in the world where there is a market for someone to make money there is a person out there trying to make some cash. It is extremely important to be very aware of the fact that not everyone who is offering classes, especially those who are doing it out of their home, are not always legitimate sources of knowledge and in some cases you may be paying a great deal for someone to "teach" you techniques. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't go and learn from these people. In some cases they may have developed techniques that are useful and worth paying for. What I am stressing is that you as the student understand that there is a difference between learning techniques and becoming certified. You may also find that because you have paid for these classes doesn't necessarily mean that you will have the ability to get a job at a company or organization with those skills.
With all of this being said Okinawa is as good a place as any to test out a new occupation. There may be limitations but if you are willing to work with your options I think that you will be capable of finding something that works for you.