Do you run on Oki time?

CONTRIBUTED BY STACI HAWLEY

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It’s a rough life living on an island. Temperate climate, lovely plantation- and the surrounnding ocean views. It’s no wonder that Okinawans are some of the longest living people on earth. I previously posted an article about a book that explained the Okinawan Program. One unique aspect of Okinawan life (that is a stark contrast to mainland Japan) is the lack of punctuality. When you travel in mainland Japan, you can set your watch by the precise arrival of a train or a bus. Surprisingly, it’s not the case here in Okinawa.

Okinawans pride themselves on something called “Okinawan time”- or as I was told “uchina time”. I never really noticed this until I experienced this “polite tardiness” firsthand. I could almost set my watch to fifteen after the hour- and then I would witness students respectfully sauntering in. Still apologetic, they would excuse themselves from being late and would quietly take their seat. However, there was a pattern to the lateness.  So one day I fired away, curious about the tardiness. Here were my questions:

Do buses run on Okinawa time? Local buses are late.

If you were meeting a foreigner, lets say at Starbucks, would you comply with Okinawan time? In this case, we would be on time. We may know that the foreigner wouldn’t know about Okinawan time- and we wouldn’t want it to appear rude.

Does Okinawan time apply to getting to work? No. For work you must arrive on time, but if you are late your boss would probably know you were thinking in “Okinawan time”.

What about a formal event, such as a wedding? All formal events start later than the actual time that is posted. So we would get to a wedding late, but we would know that it would start late.

I suppose it all makes sense. Being late simply leaves you more time for the finer things this island holds.

More time for diving. And more time to eat Okinawan fried donuts after diving.

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And more time to ponder important questions as asked by my almost four year old son-

Why do Shisas have such sharp teeth?

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So dear readers, if your life ran on “Okinawan Time” what extra things would you squeeze in your day?


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6 Comments
  • March 30, 2009

    I have always been time-sensitive and I am married to a Marine. If you are not 10 minutes early you are late!!! If I had extra time, instead of arriving 10 minutes early to everything, I would get a massage to rub away the stress I create in my life trying to always be on-time!!!! Not sure I will be able to embrace this casual time-thing but it’s great to know that it’s normal for our local Okinawans!!!

    Larissa
    Reply
  • March 28, 2009

    Kelly- The donuts were from Okinawa world…and they were delicious!

    Staci
    Reply
  • March 28, 2009

    I’d spend it on those doughnuts. Where’d you get those?!

    kellyerace
    Reply
  • March 28, 2009

    I thought it was called Filipino time..(-:
    After being married to someone who runs on Filipino time I am used to it. Coming to Okinawa is not so different.
    I am pretty laid back so it doesn’t bother me to much. Except when I am trying to get to a friends house for taco night!
    The extra time? I didn’t realize I was supposed to be getting extra time in this deal. I am going to have to look into that.

    Reply
  • March 28, 2009

    I always feel like I’m in a rush, but I’m pretty much always late wherever I go. So I always feel a bit frazzled. I should soak up the Okinawan time before I PCS so I don’t give myself a heart attack. 🙂

    Kandy
    Reply
  • March 28, 2009

    I spent my entire life on “Oki time” just never knew there was a non-negative name for it! And I don’t do anything really with the *extra* time, except that I learned long ago not to stress out about being late. It doesn’t serve any purpose to be angry and tense, driving like a maniac because one’s gonna be a few minutes late. How many times have you seen a mom or dad (late) dragging their kids out of the car, chewing everybody out in the process, as they arrive at what is supposed to be a fun event? Or a man/woman sitting in the car grinding their teeth impatiently because their mate for “date night” has to do just one more thing before leaving the house… NOT a good way to start off a romantic evening! While I always try to respect everyone’s schedules, and don’t ever intentionally mean to be late, I embrace “Hakuna Matata” when I do end up running on Oki time. 🙂

    Dasha
    Reply