^^ these are the items made by the crafty military wives here in Okinawa ^^
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It’s no secret that I miss Okinawa and all things Japanese. Yesterday, I’d finally had enough. I drove an hour just to go to Daiso and Coco’s Curry. An hour really isn’t a big deal. I would have made a weekend out of it if need be.
Daiso is the company that owns the 100 Yen Stores in Japan. They are like our dollar stores, but better. You can seriously buy anything and everything there. It’s better quality and cuter. There are also about ten or so stores in the greater Los Angeles area. Let me just say, that it was exactly the same. Same little carts, same products, same store full of Japanese people, except none of them talked to or touched my children. Everything was $1.50, so not too different on prices.
When looking at the dishes, I found the ones I have, plus I bought more, because why not? The huge selection of fancy, little erasers was there. I was a little sad about the food section, since most of what I wanted wasn’t there. Maybe because what I wanted was more of an Okinawa thing or maybe because it was just a small section. We did stock up on Hi-Chew though. It was cheaper than what they charge at Target.
Our next stop was Coco’s. If you’ve been to Japan, especially Okinawa, you are familiar with Coco’s. It’s not really fast food, it’s more like a Steak-n-Shake type restaurant. It’s a sit down restaurant but, it’s still fast food. They basically serve Japanese curry in different varieties. The Americans in Okinawa love it. Seriously LOVE it. It’s not the best curry, but it’s pretty dang good.
The restaurant looked kinda the same on the inside, but that could also be my failing memory. Everyone yelled welcome in Japanese when someone walked in and when we left, they all yelled ‘arrigato gozaimasu’ in unison. Everyone that I saw working there was Asian, but American. They all spoke perfect non-accented English, so the fact that they still said all that in Japanese was a bit wonderful for me. That may sound really dumb, but I know some of you will get it. The menu had a lot of the same things, but the bad English translation was gone. There was even buzzers at the table to contact your server.
I had my usual pork cutlet. I almost went with the chicken, but felt like that was somehow cheating. I also had naan. Of course. I think it pretty much tasted the same. It was cheap too! $4.99 for the plates and $3.50 for the kids plate.
Next time I’m in the area, I’ll make sure to go back. I really like how they didn’t Americanize any of it. The shopping center Coco’s was in had a lot of other Asian restaurants, like Korean BBQ and a shabu shabu place.
We’ve been back in the States for 3 months. On one hand, it feels like we’ve been here the whole time and Okinawa was a lovely, tropical dream. On the other hand, it feels like we just left. I’ve got so many emotions about it all that I don’t really know where to start.
In July, not long after we got back, I blogged about our readjustment 2 weeks after being back. Here we are at 3 months.
I miss Okinawa. I miss the island, the views, the beauty, the people. Everyone is so nice, so accommodating, so helpful. Even the Americans are nicer. I miss my friends. My closest friend here is an hour away. I miss getting up in the morning knowing that I would explore and discover something new and wonderful. I miss introducing my kids to another culture. The one regret I have and I knew I would have, is that we didn’t travel more. My husband wasn’t really interested in traveling and it was too expensive with the kids, so we never got farther than Tokyo. I wish I would have forced him and pawned the kids off on a friend. I’ll never get back over there.
Little Missy says the parks here aren’t any fun (I agree) and she misses the parks in Okinawa. She also talks about her preschool and missing her friends. She was a toddler when we moved, so Okinawa is all she remembers. She does seem to like Target and after introducing her to Slurpees, she begs to go to 7-11. I think she’ll be ok. Little Man doesn’t say as much, but he spent summers in the States, so it isn’t as big of an adjustment for him. I don’t think he likes his school as much though. The school itself is fine and he likes his teacher, but he doesn’t have music or art and his PE is lacking. He had Spanish and Japanese Culture classes in Okinawa as well. Apparently DOD schools are the one thing the gov’t can do right. I figured he wouldn’t have as many of the extra classes here, but he really misses those. He’s a big fan of Slurpees too and asks almost daily when we are going to Legoland.
It was little things, like learning how to drive on the right side of the road and not the left anymore. You’ll be happy to know we haven’t had any issues with that! When you are driving with the traffic, it’s easy. You just follow along. It’s those random times when I’ll be in a parking lot, I pull out of a spot, and my mind goes blank. I can’t remember what side I’m supposed to drive on! This only happens like once a week, but still. You wouldn’t think I would have this problem. In Okinawa, it was a joke, but you could tell a newbie to the island when their wipers would come on instead of their blinker. Since the steering wheel was on the opposite side of the car, everything on the steering column was reversed. It took me over 2 years to totally get the hang of having the blinker on the right side of the steering wheel. Now, I have to get used to it being on the left again. I accidentally turn my wipers on a couple times a week. Having more than one radio station is beyond awesome though.
Considering my options in Okinawa (the military PX and then Japanese stores which I’m too big for most of them), you would think I would have an entirely new wardrobe by now, but no. I went to the mall for the first time last week and only because the kids needed jeans. I took myself to Old Navy. I know, all my options and Old Navy is where I broke myself in. It’s just all too much. Besides Target, which I grace with my presence a couple times a week, I just don’t shop like I used to. Even at Target, I don’t wonder around the store, finding things I never knew I needed. I think Okinawa forever broke me of shopping.
We have only been to one sit down restaurant, Texas Roadhouse. Each time we were with friends. The first time, I happened to look at my husband next to me when he got his steak and mashed potatoes. He had his head bowed. He isn’t one to openly pray, so I was curious what he was doing. He was so excited about his steak and double mashed potatoes that he was bowing his head in aww and thankfulness. He really missed his American steak! I am still a bit overwhelmed when grocery shopping. There are so many unnecessary products on the shelves. I’ve bought a few new things, but for the most part, I just stick with what I know. I do love how much I can coupon now though! I’ve missed that!!
As time goes on, we just get more and more used to our lives as they are now. My to see and do list here is growing. I just have to keep up that attitude that everyday can be a day to wake up to exploring and discoveries.
Have you ever seen a peace pole? They are poles, found across the world, and they say “Let Peace Prevail on Earth” in different languages.
The Peace Pole Project is the official project of The World Peace Prayer Society. It was started in in 1955, in Japan of all places, by Masahisa Goi. He decided to dedicate his life to spreading the message of peace in response to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
After we moved to California, the little one and I were running errands one day. I parked to go into the post office and what do I see in front of me? A peace pole! I was completely surprised to see it.
Since that day, my mother in law found one on a walk one morning and sent me a picture. Have you seen a peace pole? I know they are all over.
Summer is unofficially over.
School has started, the pumpkin flavored stuff is out, and we are all dreaming of cooler weather and boots.
I was thinking that we hadn’t done much lately, but then I realized this summer has been crazy! Let me recap.
Memorial Day. We were still living in Okinawa and didn’t have orders. We spend the day hiking to a couple different waterfalls (Kijoka and Fukugawa), checking out Kouri Island, and swimming at the beach.
In the next couple weeks following, in between all the craziness of PCSing, we made a trip to Cape Manzamo and the Futenma Flightline Festival.
Then came a really long flight. In one day we left Okinawa, stopped in Tokyo, flew into San Diego, drove through Los Angeles and San Francisco and ended up at my in-laws. We somehow survived that day without any major catastrophes. The next week was spent with family while we tried to re-acclimate ourselves to the ways of the American.
We also spent a few days in San Francisco. We played tourist and took in a Giants game (but only because they were playing the Dodgers).
We headed back down to Southern California, found a house, bought a few large items, and a couple weeks later, got our first shipment from Okinawa. Nothing like sleeping on your child’s mattress on the floor with no pillows or blankets because you somehow forgot to make sure the movers packed them. We made time for fun (like we had much else to do) and spent a day on the lake, hung out with friends, went to the beach on this side of the Pacific, and made a trip to the Orange County Fair.
The kids and I flew home for the shortest visit ever. While we were gone, our storage shipment was delivered.
We then drove from Missouri back to California in my new Explorer (squeal!) It was surprisingly, a really fun trip.
Our third and final shipment from Okinawa was delivered right after I got home, on the first day of school. Labor Day weekend was partially spent in San Diego. And I thought we hadn’t done anything. This summer was crazy! How quickly we forget.