Kids Will Be Kids – Part 2: Places To Take Your Kids & Some To Avoid [August 14 2012]

In my last post I spoke about having kids here in Okinawa specifically regarding a question I received from a viewer. Because there is only so much that I can say in one video and in one blog post I thought that I would segment these posts and so here I go with part 2. In this post we’re going to be talking about some places you can take your kids and others that you might want to avoid. Of course this all depends on your child but I am going with some general information so I hope that you find it useful and beneficial in your travels around the island.

Because the list will be significantly shorter let’s start with places you might want to avoid with your little ones:

Historical Sites 

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.

The Strip

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!

Playgrounds

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.

Museums

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.

Parks

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!

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What’s been happening in Okinawa [August 14 2012]

As most of you know I have not been making regular videos recently because of my recent trip. This has provided so many videos that I have not had the chance to post anything other than those videos and so I am not getting back into the swing of making videos.

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/

FMF: Puppies, Disney and More [August 10 2012]

I got a lot of questions that needed answering since I left for Tokyo and so here are the answers that I have for you guys.

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.

Fashion On A Budget [August 3 2012]

I was recently sent a message by one of my Facebook Followers asking about getting some fashionable clothing on a budget. This is a great question and one that I am often asked.

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.

Finding A Job [August 2 2012]

I received a message from a viewer the other day which asked:

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!

I thought that this was a great question and wanted to take a moment to write a blog post about this. Before we talk about getting the clothing which is appropriate for “business attire” here in Okinawa. There are two types of clothing which are acceptable business attire here. The first is a business suit, standard three piece. Usually these suits are black and pretty standard looking. These suits are usually worn in the winter months.
In the summer months here in Okinawa there are special shirts which looks similar to hawaiian shirts which are acceptable attire as a top with the standard bottoms of any other suit. They are usually worn to keep everyone cool and from having a few of my own they certainly work.
So where can you get these things? During certain parts of the year you can find sales on these suits at local department stores they can be affordable starting at 10000yen and going up from there. Of course there are also other places in the department stores where you can get these suits which are much more high end and are around year long. Like any other place where you can get a suit you can pick what you would like on your suit and the colors although they are almost always solid black or potentially solid dark blue.
There are also other stores where you can purchase these around the island to include some places which are right on Route 58. Of course there is then the question of being affordable. As I say for almost everything else here in Okinawa it depends on your definition of affordable. For the most part I usually say that if you need something now you will need to deal with your options.
There are some disadvantages to the business clothes that you see here in Okinawa, mainly that they are not as expressive as you might find in the US. The goal is not necessarily to stand out here in the work place and therefore you won’t find yourself able to find your bring flashy clothes like you would in the US.
So that’s basically all that I have on this topic to be completely honest. If you have any other questions please feel free to let me know and I will do my best to answer your question.

The Olympics [August 8 2012]

I am not really into the Olympics.

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.