image courtesy of tartlime on flickr

Few visuals convey the idea of “East Meets West” quite like the one above. If you’re anything like me, you were disappointed and a bit disgusted to see Golden Arches everywhere on this island. I didn’t fly halfway around the world to eat at McDonalds, I wanted to experience Japan!

Hear me out, then, when I tell you to stop by your local McD’s today. While the corporate trappings may resemble those in the states, eating at McDonalds in Okinawa is a completely foreign experience. Don’t believe me? When’s the last time a fast food worker in the states RAN to your table to deliver your food, smiling and bowing as they set it on the table? What about the entire staff happily calling out “Welcome!” when you walked in the door?


I love going to McDonalds here. It’s unique. The menu options are not what you’d find in the states – from the “Shaka Shaka Chicken” to the “Teriyaki Burger” you’re bound to find something very new to your palate.

Plus, they have interesting promotional items that make great souvenirs. In January it was an Anime calendar, with stickers. Another month featured collectible Coke glasses in a variety of colors. (They may have done that one in the states, but I bet the boxes weren’t covered in Japanese writing!) This picture is worth a thousand words:


Still not convinced McDonald’s Okinawa will be a worth-while cultural dining experience? Watch this old promo video, then. It sums up the whole “We’re not in Kansas anymore” feel that I get every time I walk through the doors of my local McDonalds.

Disclaimer: I don’t want to start a debate on the evils of fast food, or the negative impact it’s had on the local culture. I’m just sharing info on a local eatery that I happen to like. I wouldn’t have ever entered one of these places if it hadn’t been for my junk-food-loving hubby. I’m so glad I did, because now I have great memories to put in my head-shaking-only-in-Japan file!

What about you, dear reader? Do you have a McDonalds Japan memory or a favorite menu item to share with us? Please do!


Payment: Each branch my vary, but the stores I’ve visited only accept Yen.


  1. The service is friendly, and the inside of the joints are always clean. The fries and burgers taste the same as back in the states. But back at home I always ordered a large 1$ sweet tea with lemon, and the three chocolate chip cookies for 1$. They don’t have that here. I don’t go to McDonald’s here anymore, just not worth it to me without that sweet tea!

  2. I can’t believe I’m actually writing a review about McDonald’s, but there is definitely a difference out here! The food is a lot better here than the states. I would very rarely eat Micky D’s back home (only as a last resort), but I find myself to keep venturing back here weekly. I like trying all the different stuff that you can’t get back in the U.S. such as the teriyaki burger, masala pork (curry) sandwich, steamed corn sides and my fav the ebi (shrimp) sandwich. Yesterday I tried a limited time burger with egg, bacon and some tomato/mayonnaise sauce…good stuff! The workers are always polite and they make everything fresh. You may want to go inside to order since the have English menus unlike the driv-thru 🙂

  3. Ha ha, the most memorable experiences from McDonalds in Okinawa that I had, were 1. they had no Quarter Pounders, and 2. they had a special Big Mac with Egg and some kind of amazing sauce – it was so good. Loved the McDonalds there, but A&W was by far my favorite, their Burgers were just so different than anything fast food I had tried before. Ummmmm the food in Japan, one could get very fat there – which is so funny considering how skinny most japanese people are lol

  4. The last time I took my 3 small children to McD’s, the employees ran to the front door to help me in. They asked me to sit while they took my order and money, AT THE TABLE! When the food was ready, they brought it out to our table for us. When we were finished eating, they even bussed our table for us!

  5. they do have some sort of little salad. I saw it on the menu board yesterday evening when I stopped on my way home. I didn’t order it b/c I was there for the ebi burger (like everyone else apparently!) but maybe you can ask for it next time. I don’t think it is a dinner-sized salad, though. But there wasn’t really anything to compare it to for size and sometimes it can be difficult to tell.
    It is amazing how they can get the orders right everytime when english isn’t even their primary language. That doesn’t even happen in the sates.
    Tara- I am amazed (though not totally shocked) that they actually drove the biscuits to your house. That could also go in the “Only in Japan” post!

  6. Not that the food is any healthier, but I like that the portion sizes are smaller than the humongous-sized heart attacks waiting to happen back home. On the rare occasions I stop at a McD’s, I don’t feel so bad eating it. Do any of the McD’s here sell salads?

  7. Ohhh, a good memory….my 3 year old son and I went to McD’s during Golden Week and it was very busy. He turns to me and says, “there are a lot of Japanese people here”! Goes to show you how many Americans you see in the McD’s around here….and I thought my son would be use to it by now and not even realize Mc’D’s is “american” because he was born and “raised” in Japan!

  8. That EBI (shrimp) burger is awesome! It’s not little minced up shrimp, either, it’s big pieces. My kids love the toys and they love the fact that they get to pick the toy. The first time we went I was all giddy about the ketchup in a “packet”. LOL! I kept one. hehe!

  9. My favorite thing is even though we are using the drive thru window in JAPAN speaking english. They have never gotten our order wrong. How is that?

    OH off Mcdonalds. One time we ordered Popeyes and they forgot to give us biscuits. We called and they drove it to our house. I could not believe it.

    I love this place!

  10. When my husband and I got here, we did frown on the idea of going to McD’s but we were shocked. They have normal sizes, a small is actually small. And I love the Ebi burger. We treat ourselves to McD’s every couple months. It is nice to be able to grab some fast food and not sit in a mess like at many fast food joints in the States.

  11. Yeah, that ebi burger is awesome, and Qoo white grape juice is a nice alternative to soda. Their happy meal toys are worlds better than the cheapo ones in the states too.

    The McD’s on 58 near Cocok’s toward Yomitan has a play room with touch screen computers that kids can play in for free. I considered having my daughter’s birthday party there it’s so cool!

    My husband ALWAYS stops for their iced coffee – it truly is some of the best iced coffee on the island! He came out with his coffee one day and stated, “We are never leaving this place. I asked the woman where the cream and sugar were – because they only gave me one of each – and she asked how many. She then PUT THEM IN THE COFFEE AND STIRRED IT FOR ME, put the lid back on and smiled!” You can bet that anywhere in the states they’d point in the general condiment direction without even making eye contact.

    The girls who wear McD’s skirts also have knee socks with the golden arches on them! Love it.

  12. I find that my family and I look at McDonald’s as a different type of dining experience here than in the States. It is more of an outing here – we sit down in the restaurant, no drive-thru – and soak in the atmosphere. In the U.S. we eat McD’s as a fast after-thought and last resort. Here we rank it with any other sit-down restaurant experience. Maybe because it is a little more expensive here, too??? At any rate, we enjoy it here as a once-in-awhile treat instead of a default back-up meal.

  13. I don’t eat at McD’s unless I have no other choice but I have been in a few here with my friends who have kids who want to go. I have found that McD’s around the world always have at least one menu item unique to that place. In Hawaii, there was that red pork on the sandwiches and you could get an egg on your hamburger like you can here. In China, you could get rice on the side instead of fries. Here I LOVE the ebi filet…if I am going to eat McDs here that is what I get. The customer service is awesome and I know since I worked for McDs as a kid for 2 years, we were never that energetic….LOL.

  14. I have experienced the Shrimp Burger and it was interesting!! I have only been in one once since we’ve returned to Okinawa but I am amazed at the service and how clean they are. I also noticed all the female employees wear skirts – you won’t see that in the states!!!

  15. The McD’s near my house plays some very cool JAZZ, and is the cleanest I have ever seen. All the McD’s I have been too will take dollars but they give yen for change. We like to get the happy meal toys to send back to the States. Also, they will give you tiny little 8 oz milk shake with a kid’s meal if you ask!