Many Americans stationed overseas may find Okinawa a culture shock. Several foods may not be available, as well as Japanese may observe certain holidays differently. These differences make it difficult to locate resources and available activities. Being stationed overseas tends to alter the mania of holidays, causing the focus to shift from preparing for relatives to instead attempting to figure out custom forms to send presents back to the States. So, how can you and your family survive the holidays overseas? Check out these events and resources!

Understanding the stress and the headache, Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) Okinawa offers a holiday meal at a favored dining location. MCCS is opening the bars and clubs on Thanksgiving and Christmas to invite service members and their families to enjoy a meal. MCCS Okinawa also offers to lend out their Chefs with Holiday Meals-To-Go, beginning 16 November 2020 and extending to 02 January 2021. Don’t like the idea of leaving home on a family holiday? Reduce the stress and partake in someone else cooking for you and your family.

One of the most frustrating parts about living overseas is the struggle with receiving and sending mail. Typically, there is a 14-day turnaround, yet, the Holidays tend to cause a little chaos to this timeline. Many have begun to opt to utilize Amazon as their gift-giving platform. Take advantage of the gift wrap option available on most Amazon fulfilled items if this is your option. However, if sending a unique gift from Japan this year, the Postal Service Centers have opted to cut down the stress by providing a more structured timeline on when to send packages to ensure on-time arrival. Please share this information with friends and family to ensure it arrives in time to be under the tree. 

A familiar favorite past-time is to drive out to see the Christmas lights. Though lights may not be on houses, many local businesses put up lights to celebrate the holidays. Research local events in Okinawa and take advantage of the unique surrounding culture. Beginning in late October and stretching into mid-January, the Japanese have many opportunities to celebrate their heritage. This results in the stringing of lights on their castles, in the gardens, and various other locations around the city. Take the family to enjoy the Nostalgic Light Display at the Southeast Botanical Garden. Visit the Information, Tickets, and Tours (ITT) office to take advantage of discounted tickets to a number of these events.

Don’t allow yourself to get swept up in the mania. The holidays do not have to be stressful days. Instead, take advantage of the available events and resources around the island. These can easily help those stationed overseas to survive being away from friends, family, and normal holiday traditions. Immerse yourself in the culture and take the chance to create a new Holiday tradition while in Okinawa, Japan.

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