Kadena, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan

Posted Friday, August 6, 2010 ·

My three months in Japan were mostly spent on Kadena Air Base located on Okinawa Island. Okinawa is the largest island in the Ryukyu Island chain which is comprised of nearly one thousand smaller islands, none of which I had a chance to see. There are over a dozen U.S. military bases scattered throughout the main island. Together they make up over twenty percent of the entire island's area - making it very difficult to get away from anything military-related. Right before I arrived, the Okinawan citizens held a massive protest demanding the Americans withdraw and give them their island back. I don't blame them, what with the annoyingly loud car exhausts and people talking on cell phones while their waitresses wait to take orders.

Before we decided to rent a car, going out was limited to how absurd the cost of a taxi would be. The closest decent place to base was American Village with its gigantic ferris wheel you could see sixty miles away when flying back to base at night. The funny thing is I never once saw anyone ride the wheel in the three months I was here. American Village was basically how it sounds - American. Signs were all in English and advertising was aimed at the Americans.

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