沖縄県

March 19, 2015


Being a military brat, I've been to quite a few places. Seeing new places and making new friends was never easy for me. Only two places have had such an impact on my life that I'd love to go back and share the it with my children. 

Okinawa, Japan would be one of these places. My family and I moved here when I was in my early teens. I remember my first reaction being, "Wow, everything is so...Asian." Picking up and moving to a place totally foreign to me was odd yet somewhat familiar. Having a Filipino mother that threw LOTS (and I mean TONS) of parties, I was used to being around Asian people, culture, and food. I loved living here. But as life goes, I also didn't always have the best experiences. So if you were to ask me how my experience living here was, I will most likely give you a bit of an undecided answer. Like I said, I loved it. Though at the same time, I hated it. Being a teenager, your angst and bad attitude can ruin an experience in your life. Being an adult, I now see how I could've made those four years so much better for myself. At the time, I did what I could.  And in those four years, I made some of the best friends with some of the best people I have ever met in my whole entire life. As I grew in age, I also grew as a person with them. They helped make me the person I am today. I figured out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life (kind of). Now when I say kind of, it's mostly because my future was planned to a T, and it ended up doing a total 180. I also started my slow journey to becoming a photographer and graphic designer. The building blocks I was given in these few years has built me up to be successful and happy.

Living here, I ended up falling in love with the scenery, the food, and the people. Those are honestly the three things people love about Okinawa, and I totally get it! The scenery is something else! Okinawa is actually one of the top vacation destinations. The beaches are beautiful with water so blue and clear. Like nothing I've ever seen before. I'm a silly person and can't swim to save my life. So activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, or anything else that involved getting into somewhat deep water, I was not able to experience. I wish I was able to though! The many flower fields fill the empty spaces of the little island. Hibiscus, sunflowers, cosmos, and the all too gorgeous cherry blossoms explode all over the very short 70 miles allotted. And the wonderfully famous Churaumi Aquarium is located at one end of the island. This happens to be the second largest aquarium in the world! Now, if you haven't heard of it (which you probably haven't) then I'm for sure you've seen the amazing photos somewhere on the internet. I've never seen anything like it in all its glory! The pictures don't do it justice. 

Japanese food has become my second favorite food. My number one will always be Filipino, but hey, I'm just biased. Having freshly made sushi is the most amazing thing I have ever eaten. Since being there, Okinawa has gotten so many new restaurants within the past six years. I wish I was there now to experience they great culinary foodie foods (wut?)! All the sushi, yakiniku, all you can eat spots will always have a very special place in my heart. Not to forget Japanese Starbucks and McDonalds. Truth be told, after moving back to the states, it took me three years to eat American McDonalds again just because I knew it wouldn't be as good. And it still isn't.

Last, but not least, the people are too sweet. There are locals who absolutely hate Americans/the American military, and they protest every now and then. But once you get around those people, you end up meeting some of the sweetest Okinawans. I remember that there used to be a sweet little man that lived outside of one of the base's gates. Mind you, he was homeless and essentially was a hobo BUT was such a nice person. He always had a shopping cart with him. Sometimes it was full of garbage he would pick up every now and then and sometimes, it'd be full of freshly picked flowers. When he had flowers, he would hand them out to everyone who walked by him. He didn't speak much English, but actions are much stronger than words. This man is definitely a great example of the people of Okinawa.

 
I could speak forever about this place. Not only because of how amazing it was, but because this is the place where I also met my husband. We went to high school together. We weren't exactly 'high school sweethearts' because I was more his sweetheart than he was mine. Plus, the story on how we met is too silly, so I'm not even gonna go there! But we fell in love and we equally agreed that Okinawa was just one of those amazing 'once in a lifetime' kind of places. This place is tattooed not only on my skin but on my soul and my heart. Now that I am a military wife, we contemplated whether or not we should try and go back. Sadly, we weren't lucky enough to be stationed overseas. If you ever get the chance to move to Japan, GO. Go and never look back! Especially if you get Okinawa, it will most likely be the best experience of your life.

Ps: There's a photo of me at sixteen - circa 2009 - and a drawing from my bucket list.

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