Saturday, August 25, 2012
It is Saturday Morning and the weather conditions here in Okinawa continue to remain stable regardless of Typhoon Bolaven which continues to progress towards Okinawa as a Cat 4. Again as I have been mentioning in other posts and in my videos this is the time to ensure that you have everything completed in order to make you, your family and your assets have the best chance of getting though this storm with the least stress and damage possible.
With the winds potentially starting to affect Okinawa within the next 12 hours ensuring that everything as far as preparation goes is taken care of this morning is vital. Some helpful information is ensure that you have enough food for the weekend plus about 4 days, ensure that you have all objects which might be loose in your yard or on your property stowed away or tied down, ensure that you are inside during the typhoon weather.
I will continue to post updates throughout the day and weekend as well ad broadcast video of the storm whenever possible.
Friday, August 24, 2012
This morning upon checking weather reports for the first time it has become apparent that that the storm has progressed to a category three. We are still predicting that the storm will be a category four when it hits us here in the next 24 to 48 hours.
The current weather is beautiful here in Okinawa and again I cannot stress more that this is the time to get outside and prepare. I will shoot more information out on my facebook and blog over the next few days.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Currently a category 2, Typhoon Bolaven continues to pick up speed as it heads towards Okinawa. In the past 12 hours the potential path of the storm has changed and is now predicted to come across the southern part of the main island of Okinawa. Forecast says that the typhoon will progress to a category 4 at that time.
The current conditions here in Okinawa include rain and clouds which is most likely residual from the typhoon which is hooking inward towards Taiwan.
Typhoon Bolaven will be within the immediate area of Okinawa within a 48 hour period making it important to ensure that residents are prepared with 2 or 3 days of non perishable rations in the event that the storm causes damage to local businesses or sticks around for quite a while. It is also important to take some time to clean up the areas in and around your house/apartment now ensuring that in the event that weather conditions continue to decline you can prevent damage and injury to those around you.
I will continue to update you on more details of this storm as they become available.
Monday, August 20, 2012
The Yurail Monorail is the one and only current form of rail transportation here on Okinawa. Those who would like to travel through the city of Naha have the option of taking the monorail to the various districts within the city.
This year on August 17th the rail celebrated it's ninth year in service. Although the celebration was not a very large one approximately 70 parents and their children took place in the event. Those who participated rode the rail and listened to the history of the city with specific attention to the districts around the area.
Check Out The Original Article:
Agent Orange In Okinawa
According to some recent reports it has been released that 25,000 barrels of Agent Orange were stored in Okinawa until 1972. For those unfamiliar Agent Orange is an herbicide and defoliant which was used as a part of the United States Military's herbicidal warfare program which took place during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 9171. The purpose of this chemical is used to spray in forested areas killing plants and therefore taking away the ability for the opposing force to hide in the brush or find a source of food. The United States Military would spray sensitive areas allowing them to expose the opposing forces.
In Vietnam, Agent Orange caused various health effects in humans as well as livestock. Other health effects include birth defects, still births, mental disabilities, cleft palate as well as extra fingers and toes. On military bases where Agent Orange was stored there ar still said to be high levels of dioxins in the pool posing a health threat to surrounding communities.
The report, which was written in 2003, was the first to refer to the fact that Agent Orange was tired in Okinawa as well as the number of barrels which were stored. The report also states that according to the Dutch ship "Valcanus", Agent Orange barrels were incinerated at sea in 1977 after the USAD moved them from Chibana Ammunition Storage Facility in Okinawa to Johnston Island. The storage of Agent Orange on Okinawa has also been recognized by the US VA who has admitted that there have been service members suffering from health problems due to the exposure to Agent Orange. Of these service members 100 former service members had sought compensation from the US Government because of their exposure handling this agent while serving in Okinawa.
At this current time there is still concern for veterans, former base workers and redevelopment of the land which was once used as US Military bases. Both governments are currently investigating this issue.
Check Out The Original Article: http://english.ryukyushimpo.jp/2012/08/16/7705/
Activists Arrive in Naha
On August 16th Chinese activists who were apprehended after "illegal entry" on Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea were brought in to Naha, Okinawa. With the recent dispute over the islands the Chinese activists denied that they illegally entered into Japan because the islands are Chinese territory.
Upon arriving to Okinawa the activists were sent into five separate vehicles where they then proceeded to five separate locations for investigation. Currently Authorities are determining whether to prosecute the activists or to simply deport them.
Check Out The Original Article: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-08/16/c_131789156.htm
Of the many horrific events which took place during WWII's Battle of Okinawa the one that seems to speak the most to me is the use of young school children by the Japanese Imperial Army as nurses during the Battle. These children did horrific work which in my opinion no child should ever be subjected to. Though horrific the things that these children, and some of their instructors, experiences are now part of a continuing lesson about the past and understanding the importance of peace.
The Himeyuri Alumnae Incorporated Foundation produced an animated short film called "Himeyuri". The film premiered June 23rd 2012 and ran through August 15th. This 30 minute film centuries around the students who served as nurses during the Battle of Okinawa with the goal to share their experiences during the battle.
The film's closing song for the film was sug by the third year students at the Shizuoka University Affiliated Junior High School.
Check Out Video Of Himeyuri Memorial and Museum:
Check Out The Original Article Here: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2012-08-13/himeyuri-peace-museum-in-okinawa-creates-anime-short
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Living on an island you would think that going to the beach is something I would do regularly but this is a common misconception about Okinawa. In fact it so happens that Okinawa's beaches are "far and few" compared to what you would expect. Much of the island has concrete areas to act as breakers in the event of in climate weather however there are some ares where you can lay out in the sand and enjoy the ocean (or sea depending on where you are on the island). Couple this fact with the fact that there are hazards in the water which you need to be protected from like box jelly fish and the fact that there is this huge influx of people who go to some particular beaches it means that traveling to the beach is something that needs to be orchestrated and planed rather than just going (at least for us). We like to prepare ourselves for the beach by packing some foods which are helpful in saving some cash while we are out and about. We also like packing cold drinks and water because it can be extremely hot in the summer time here on this island and although the beach has the water to help you cool off it doesn't often do the job to it's fullest and the result is requiring a great deal of hydration throughout your entire beach visit.
Now back to the title of this post. Today I found myself prepared for the beach everything was ready to go and I was quite excited. After all I did get myself a bathing suit and a swim shirt which was a pain in the ass to find to be honest but that is another blog post for later. Anyway so I wake up this morning ready to go and excited for the trip and . . . . . it's raining. Of course this is saddening for me because I was excited to go to the beach but it's ok.
Fortunately it is still early and there is a possibility that it will get nice enough out for me to go and do some beach going today. It depends on what it looks like here in the next hour or so. Well I will let you know what is going on as the day progresses. . . . . . . . . in the event that you are wondering.
Friday, August 17, 2012
The best time to come to Japan really depends on where you want to go and what you want to experience. For me I don't like the cold weather so going to Hokkaido in the winter time seems a little bit ridiculous but coming to Okinawa in the winter time is perfect because for me it's like perfect fall weather which is a time I am most comfortable with. There are people who I have spoken with from the souther US who don't think Okinawa bad in the summer but then there are others who can't stand the heat in Tokyo during summer so again it all comes down to your personal preference.
Would you agree that Okinawa is definitely less crowded than mainland?
No I would not agree. Okinawa is a very small island with a very limited space for people to live between the mountains up north, military bases and the historical sites. The small areas where people can live are usually very crowded with as many as almost 5000 people per square kilometer in places such as Ginowan. From my understanding this number does not include the American population on this island so as you can imagine the number gets greater. Although places in mainland like Tokyo for example are comparably as crowded I would not "definitely" agree that Okinawa is less crowded than mainland.
Is it going to be raining in late August when I travel to Okinawa?
Of course I could not really tell you whether or not it is going to be raining but what I can tell you is that it is not rainy season so the odds of it raining all day every day (unless of course we get a typhoon) are slim. This is not to say we won't get a shower or two during your trip but for the most part you should be good to go.
Where can a gaijin get a haircut?
There are a lot of places which will cut your hair here and do a great job. The only time that I have ever heard that a salon can't do it is if you have African American hair in which case I am told from those with experience that they really just don't get the proper concept for cutting hair. I would imagine that this is also true for those with extremely curly hair as most of their stylists know how to deal with straight hair.
Whoppers. Where can I get one?
The bad news is that if you do not have base access right now there is no place for you to get a whopper on Okinawa. Although we are supposed to get a BK in the near future it has not opened yet.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Before I go any further I want to make sure that you know I am not trying to be negative here I am just trying to share the information that you are going to need to consider in the event that you want to make the transition to living here in Japan.
Without further delay let's get right into it!
Life in Japan is different than life in my home country and that is why I want to live there.
Although culture in Japan is different than your home country life itself is very much the same. Each day you are going to get up, eat, work, sleep and do it all over again. Between all of that you will need to find time to get groceries, necessities and everything else that you would do in everyday life.
In fact, depending on your terms of being here you may find that one of your every day average tasks are more difficult than you might encounter in your home country. For example what if your coming here does not involve you having a car. This means that you will need to get groceries either using public transportation or something similar to a bicycle. At first there may be some novelty in riding your bike to the grocery store, in the rain even. The real question is how will you feel about this once the novelty is gone.
"The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" and this is something which is important to remember when you are considering coming here. There are many great reasons to come over to Japan but it's not a place to come in order to escape the realities of life.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Because the list will be significantly shorter let's start with places you might want to avoid with your little ones:
Okinawa is covered with historical sites which for history and culture buffs like myself can be fun and exciting to visit but for little kids is can be less so. More importantly these places can be dangerous. Castle ruins for example look relatively harmless with wide-open spaces covered in grass but with most of these castle ruins they are constructed from coral stone which can be slick, sharp and hard. They are also built on high ground meaning that there can be steep stairs, caverns near wells and cliffs. Even for some adults these places can be dangerous so my recommendation is that children taken to these areas are very well disciplined which will ensure that they don't find themselves in an area which could cause them any harm.
It is also important to keep in mind that some of these places are used as worship sites for local people and therefore it's important to consider this when visiting (even if you are an adult). Being considerate of those who are visiting to worship ancestors or what have you should be high priority for those visiting these sites.
I have always known the strip as streets and areas where there are various storefronts one right after the other. They are usually full of tourists and open air shopping usually right on a main road here in Okinawa. Two of the most popular are Kokasai Street and American Village. I think it's important to note again that it all depends on your child but it is important to note that these places can be dangerous for mostly children who are, as I described in my last post, runners. The others they are great loud places so someone who might be rambunctious might not have a problem here although as I said for the runner it's not very far between the sidewalks and where cars are driving.
See, I told you the list wasn't that long. Of course it's up to you to determine what you and your children are capable of, however, I am offering my suggestions based on my past experiences. With that said let's go into the fun and exciting places that are perfect for your little kiddles to have some fun . . . . and you too hopefully!
The one great thing Okinawa has going for the young ones in your family is that there is a place for them to play in almost every neighborhood. Not only this but they are usually clean, safe and have covered areas for parents to stay in the shade while your little ones burn all that energy before their midday nap. If you are living in one of Okinawa's cities there is bound to be some sort of part within walking distance. For me there are about 2 or 3 within about a 20 minutes walking distance max. Usual characteristics of these parks are slides, swings and large open areas. The slide are awesome! They are not like what you would see in in the US but sometimes they are shaped like large animals or have fun paintings on them. In some cases they have these things which I call rollie slides. They are huge slides with rollers on them which are online I have seen anywhere else. There is not much to say about swings, they are pretty standard but the slides are the things to get excited about (and who's to say that a grown up can't have a little fun too?). I can also honestly say that I have tested some of these slides and I give them my star of approval! 100% fun!
Shopping Center Play Areas
If you are wanting to avoid the sun there are places where you can take your littles ones at local shopping centers. Some of the centers have play areas which are there regularly like the one in Naval Kadena and the San A in Naha. For a small fee you can take your little ones to play in their play area and you can sit in the AC while you supervise them. There are others that go from shopping center to shopping center throughout the year. You can usually find the schedule at your favorite shopping center. They sometimes have trampolines, bounce castles and ball pits that you can have your child use for a small fee while others supervise and you enjoy the AC.
Although they are meant to be quiet places there are exhibits from time to time when child friendly exhibits are in town. There are areas where kids can have hands on exploration of fun and exciting things. Two that I remember were a dinosaur exhibit and a robot exhibit. Both were targeted towards kids as well as adults and although I did not do to the dinosaur exhibit but the robot one had a lot of fun hands on experiences for younger ones.
Although not all parks are 100% designated for children there are usually places where your little ones can run around safely and play in the grass. If there is a good place to kick around a ball parks will be the place. Now unfortunately they are not always as common as playgrounds that i mentioned above but they are usually within driving distance ad have parking areas so it's perfect for an afternoon out.
I hope that you find these suggestions useful. If you have any suggestions of particular places to visit please leave them in the comments below for those other readers. As always thanks for reading!
So what has been happening here recently?
This weekend there were two very fun and exciting events that took place on the island. The first of these events was the 10000 Eisa Dance event which happened in Kokusai Dori down in the southern part of Okinawa. This is an event which happens once per year where dancers from all over the island come to perform. The event is amazing because the sheer number of dancers is outstanding. There are some negatives to this event which are the lack of parking and being that it is summer it is very hot. The best place to park, if you get there early, is the parking garage which is located in the immediate vicinity of the event however the price can be a bit expensive however, it is better than paying for a cab.
The other event which happened was the Ginowan City Festival. This is a fun event which happened every year at the Ginowan Convention Center. This year I did not go to this event but one of the fun things I was able to do was watch the festival's closing fireworks which I could see from my house.
There were more things that happened this week check them out here:
*Voting On Tax Bill: http://www.japanupdate.com/?id=12507
*Kinser Marine Denies Driving Drunk: http://www.japanupdate.com/?id=12501
*Teen Prostitution Laws Violated By Man: http://www.japanupdate.com/?id=12494
*Osprey Grounded. . . . For Now: http://www.japanupdate.com/?id=12488
*Osprey A Threat To Endangered Species: http://www.japanupdate.com/?id=12478
*US Enforces Futenma Move: http://www.japanupdate.com/?id=12477
*Osprey Protest Postponed: http://www.japanupdate.com/?id=12461
*Remains Found From Battle Of Okinawa: http://english.ryukyushimpo.jp/2012/08/08/7670/
For those of you who want to communicate within the JVLOG community forum style: http://jvlog.org/forum/
Friday, August 10, 2012
I want to get a puppy but I don't want to support puppy mills. What do you recommend?
There are a lot of different places where you can get puppies on the island. Eventually you are going to encounter some that are not necessarily the most legitimate. Although I do not have a full run down of what places are more legitimate than others here's my thoughts. I have seen some good pet stores and some not so great ones. I have also seem some good breeders and others who are no better than puppy mills. In my opinion each puppy out there deserves a good home and it's hard for me to turn away a puppy who looks like it wants love just because of where it came from. In my opinion if it's healthy and if you want to love it go for it. Personally the dogs that I have gotten I got for free from people who were giving them away. That's not to say that I would not purchase from anyone in particular but in my past experiences I have found puppies who needed a home at no cost.
How was the JetStar Flight Experience?
I very much enjoyed the experience. The only thing that I found irritating is that when I was in Narita we needed to get off the plane, get on a buss and then go to the terminal which then was the same case then getting on the jet on my way out. It wasn't that it was a problem but like I mentioned in another review it would have been nice if someone would have notified us that this would be the way we would be getting on and off the plane so I could have prepared more manageable carry on items.
Can you do a video about certificate of eligibility?
When it comes to things that deal with legally getting here I prefer to not try and go into those details. This is because I want to make sure I am not giving out inaccurate information. My recommendation is to go through the authorities in these areas. Sorry for any inconvenience.
What is in natto? Is it fish?
No it is not fish. Natto is fermented soy beans.
Is it as nice as people say to travel on a plane throughout Japan?
Yes. It is very nice to travel throughout the country. The airlines are great even when the are discount airlines. They treat customers very well and the airlines are extremely clean (yes I have traveled on various airlines back and forth through Japan) and the airports are for the most part easy to use and user friendly.
76.47 US ? That's expensive for one night for one person.
When traveling throughout Japan it is important to remember that the cost of items and services don't change based on the strength of your local currency. When I first got here to Japan the yen rate was 140yen to the USD which was nice but when the US economy started to tank hat got less and less now we're sitting at about 76 yen to the USD. Of course this doesn't change the amount that people charge in Japan for a room (for example). I got my room at the Narita Rest Hotel for 5000 something yen for that one night which was extremely affordable considering that the average is 15,000 yen per night per person.
I've begun to use the little Google man to see how to get around.
I love the little google man. I use it all the time to determine where I need to go but unfortunately when I got lost trying to get to my hotel it as just trying to find the buss itself. The hotel was not necessarily in walking distance so I was supposed to get on a buss. Unfortunately I did't know what bus number to get on and every time someone walked up to me asking where I needed to go they didn't understand what it was I was talking about. This was frustrating but nonetheless when I called Russ he helped me find the bus number I needed.
From visiting both parks did you see a lot of Stich and Angel merch? Did you meet any characters other than the ones at Chef Mickey's?
I did notice that there was a lot of Stich merch but not as much Angel. Also I did not meet any characters other than the ones at the character breakfast. I had the chance to but I didn't want to wait in line or run up to a character and push a little kid out of the way. I had seen many characters in my day and I think every kid should have the chance to do the same.
I grew up near the original Disneyland in Anehiem and it's a shame that other Disneyland locations seem much better.
I have never been to the original Disneyland but I spent a lot of time in Walt Disney World. I too think that it is a shame but I do think that t is good that there are still places where you can experience Disney the way it was meant to be experienced (in my honest opinion). For me Tokyo Disney is that place. It brings back memories of when I first experienced Disney with characters everywhere and everything Disney themed. I will be writing more about this later so stay tuned.
77 may be cold in Naha but is it cold in Tokyo?
To be completely honest 77 isn't really cold in Naha but it is the lack of humidity which made it seem so cold for me. Now I do not believe that 77 is cold for Tokyo, in fact I think that it is rather warm for Tokyo because most of the people were in the area were dressed for summertime and looking very hot not to mention I couldn't seem to find a good long sleeved shirt that was worth getting so I could stay warm.
How much does it cost to live in okinawa in USD?
This is a complicated question. It depends on a lot of factors on where you work, where you live and how you live.
How are the disney parks different from the ones in the US?
Tokyo Disney Resort is very similar to Walt Disney World 1994/5. There are characters everywhere even walking through the parks. There is also disney theming everywhere. I will be making an in depth post about this here in the near future so stay tuned for that.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
I realize that it is a world wide thing that I should be taking time to watch and realize how wonderful it is that during this event the entire world comes together to bla bla bla but it never really caught my eye. When I think back through my childhood I cannot remember a time when I had even watched the olympics to begin with. I remember football but never sitting down in front of the television to watch. Then again watching television was also not something that I spent much time doing considering that we only really watched football, Everybody Loves Raymond or something that would catch the attention of my younger sister. I suppose it is for this reason that I never "got" the Olympics and therefore am not into it now.
I should mention that I have tracked the olympics as far as whatever is on the web and easily accessible but there are a lot of things which are not streaming live here in Japan that you can see in other parts of the world. For example the US team competitions which broadcast on stations like NBC are not something that I can have streamed here due to copyright issues which leads me to my next opinion and although not Japan related I figured that I would take a moment and write a bit about it.
If the Olympics is a world wide event why are some people so picky about who it can be broadcasted to? You would think, for example, that there would be some site somewhere that anyone from anywhere could see the live footage from the event, however, I have yet to find that (and have yet to spend too much time looking because of my lack of interest. My husband is interested in it though although my thought is that if he wants to see it he can go and look for himself.
Well that's basically all that I have to say on this topic. I realize that it is short and may conflict with the opinions that some of you out there have. I hope that this does not effect the way that you read my posts about Okinawa but I thought that it would be fun to add a little insight to me once in a while. Thanks for reading.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
As far as the train itself there were rest rooms and a food car even though it was just a short trip. It would have been nice to know this on my trip to the resort with my mom because mom would have had the chance to have some food and use the rest room before we started making our way through the other stations. I cannot say that this is bad on behalf of the actual train or business that is the train though because I honestly was not paying attention at the time or we would have taken advantage of that.
Overall I give this service a 9 our of 10. It would have been a 10 our of 10 if purchasing tickets would have been slightly easier. Maybe it is that I do not spend a lot of time in Tokyo but when I was trying to get off they asked me either for a paper ticket or to put down my IC card. Luckily I had my IC card but I have no idea where I would have gotten one of the paper tickets. I am certainly going to use this service again.
Friday, August 3, 2012
The great thing about Okinawa is that it is a small island and therefore you can go to pretty much any shop on the island without having to make a huge trip out of it. The bad thing is that there is a chance (especially for those in the military or dod community) that someone else will have the same thing that you are wearing. This can be avoided with a little bit of creativity but we'll get to that later.
So let's get to the answer. There are a lot of places on the island where you can get clothes which are affordable two of the places which I prefer are San A and AEON. These two places have a lot of affordable options and they usually have a great deal of sales. Another place that I find some great options is UNICLO. They have a lot of good options as well including jackets in the winter time. Of course there are options which are more affordable than others in these places but with a little bit of time and a little bit of luck you can find what you are looking for.
Another place that I find a lot of fun clothing options at is called VILLAGE HOUSE which is in the American Village area. They have various types of clothing there for every different style. Another great thing about this place is that they have various sizes, styles and sales which fit every budget. This is also the place you can go to get some fantastic accessories at an affordable price.
Like I say for many things Okinawa is small, but with a little bit of time and effort you can get what you are looking for.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
I've just recently made it to the island and want to find a job. Unfortunately, I lack professional attire. I've searched up and down the PX exchange type places on Kadena and Foster but they're choices are slim and hideous. Would you happen to know of an affordable place to buy nice work attire off base? I live just off Foster in Chatan-cho but, I mean, the island is small so I wouldn't mind driving. Any info you could give me would be AWESOME!