It's hard to believe but Ben and I are halfway done our three year tour in Okinawa. That means we've got only 18 more months to soak up all of the beauty, culture, food, entertainment, and adventure that this island and Asia have to offer. While we are definitely getting excited for our eventual move back to the states, we're also starting to get quite nervous about leaving our beloved island behind. All of our first memories as husband and wife have been created on Okinawa so there is definitely some serious nostalgia for this place . I can't wrap my head around the fact that once we PCS ("move" in military terms) we'll most likely say goodbye to Oki forever. It's a sad thought, but we keep reminding ourselves that there's a lot more memories to be made and fun to be had once we move to the states. Ben and I are just praying that this next year and a half goes a bit slower than the first.... Just a tiny bit....
I haven't really posted much about this past summer, but it's definitely been one to remember. Ben and I attended many different festivals, relaxed at some of Okinawa's best beaches, rocked out at the coolest live music bar in Okinawa with friends, enjoyed some of summers best sunsets from all over the island, bought new furniture (we're slowly becoming real adults) , and discovered some pretty cute, although not always good, cafes and restaurants. Okinawa life has definitely not disappointed our second summer here.
Miscellaneous Food & Drinks
I'm not sure if it's a millennial thing or what, but I can't stop taking pictures of cute food! Okinawa, much like all of Japan, is obsessed with the visual aesthetic of food. Every time we go to the Japanese food store, I end up spending twice as much time as necessary because I get hypnotized by the mochi that looks like pandas or the neatly packaged rows of baby shrimp or the rice balls that are shaped like Hello Kitty (you get the point). I absolutely could spend an entire day wandering around our local food store, San A , without getting bored and it's both a blessing and a curse!
Restaurants out in town also prescribe to the Okinawan notion that food must be cute/interesting/visually appealing. Since we live in a vacation town, everything, especially the food, is geared towards Instagram obsessed tourists. That means every morsel of food and drink must be "gram worthy" which is both a good and a bad thing depending how you see it. If you're more worried about getting a cool picture, you're in luck. However, these cool dishes sometimes seem to be more concerned about appearance than flavor, so if you're more interested in a delicious meal you're going to have to do your research. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of incredible eating establishments in Okinawa that can satisfy your craving for both visually appealing and delicious food; however, I've just learned to be a little bit more discerning about trendy food because I've been let down by one too many rainbow bagels and avocados shaped like flowers...
The Calif Kitchen
Kurashiki Damn & Reservoir
I feel quite conflicted about the Kurashiki damn, reservoir and museum. On one note, the reservoir and surrounding area is quite beautiful. The damn is one of the most landlocked points in Okinawa and is surrounded on every side by a vast forest. There is a small man made waterfall outside that some children were playing in and very beautiful vantage points of the reservoir from all over. However, on the other hand, the museum that accompanied the damn was one of the strangest places I have ever been too... I did not take any pictures of the museum, although now I wish I did, because I was too caught up in the bizarreness. It looked like a micro sized Franklin Institute that had been abandoned for 20 years with an array of half finished exhibits all in Japanese. There was not a single soul inside of the museum except for a janitor who lurked around and avoided eye contact. Needles to say, this place gave me some seriously creepy vibes but I'm happy we got to see another little piece of Okinawa.
Sunset Beach was very appropriately named because it's the perfect place to unwind and catch a classic Okinawan sunset. There's an outdoor mojito bar right on the beach which is probably the real reason Ben and I keep going back to this place but hey, who can blame us? There's really nothing quite like relaxing on a white sand beach, freshly prepared mojito in your hand, while enjoying a multicolored sunset.
Oodomari Beach, Ikei Island
Just another one of Okinawa's beautiful beaches...
Island Music Festival, Tropical Beach
Uruma Tedako Festival
One of the best festivals Ben and I have been to in Okinawa was the Tedako Festival in Uruma City. There were Eisa dancers, karate performances, live music, fireworks, games, and plenty of Okinawan cuisine. Ben and I didn't see any other Americans there, although we did encounter Dutch tourists, so I'm assuming this event is pretty much only locally known. Ben and I only knew about it because one of my Okinawan coworkers informed me. The Tedako Festival was the perfect way to celebrate the summer and Okinawa's beautiful culture so I am really happy Ben and I were able to go.
Jet Bar, Gate 2 Street
Ben and I typically stay close to home when we go to bars, so we end up going to the same places over and over again (I'm looking at you, Cheers). Recently, one of our friends insisted that we all go to a live music bar on the infamous Gate 2 Street, a farther location with a somewhat questionable reputation, but I'm glad we did! The three person band who played all night was really incredible; I wasn't expecting too much but they blew me away with their covers of classic 80s and 70s jams.
A Few of this Summer's Best Sunsets
I've got tons of sunset pictures hogging up space on my iPhone, but here are a few of my favorites. I swear that there's something special, maybe the ocean or where we're located, that makes the sunsets here better than the ones I used to see back at home in Pennsylvania. Ben and I are lucky enough to have a great sunset watching view from our apartment and it seems like recently we've been spending more and more time enjoying the beautiful colors together every night.
If I am being honest, I will never 100% be in love with mine and Ben's apartment. We have the ugliest hospital tile floors throughout, bland white walls that we cannot paint, bathrooms covered in every shade of beige imaginable, and stainless steel counter tops that only look clean the moment after you thoroughly scrub them. Military housing definitely isn't perfect, but by adding our own décor we've found a way to make this place feel like home. Although we waited a year and a half to do so, one of the biggest improvements we made to our apartment was the addition of some new furniture. We're finally feeling like this place is *close* to perfect and I find myself loving our home more and more every day!
Cheers to one and a half more years!
We're Kara, Ben and baby Zoe also known as the Lesniaks. We’re a Marine Corps family currently stationed in Yorktown, Virginia after a three year tour in Okinawa, Japan. Enjoy our adventures, travels, photos, thoughts, and life together!
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