Camp Lester Housing | Okinawa Hai!


This latest question from Aviva made me realize that instead of solving this problem I had resigned to bare walls. Wasn’t even much of a fight. But those of you with an instinct to decorate and make your home homey, perhaps you got to the bottom of this mystery.

So I’m cursing up a storm because the people I knew here said, “Bring all the touches of home!” so I brought art & pictures for the walls. Well, they’re ALL reinforced concrete, every last one. And being off base, I wasn’t really sure about boring huge holes to hang stuff, but I tried – and hit rebar almost every time. So how are people putting anything on the walls here? I tried those concrete hooks – they bent the second I put a hammer to them. Any ideas?


  1. Have you posted that you will pay someone to help you mount your TV on Okinawa Yard Sales? I saw on there the other day that someone had a “handyman” that advertises on there, come to their house, assemble some furniture and hang heavy pics for them. They said they were very satisfied with what he did. That same person may respond to your ad and be able to help you.

  2. Our surround sound speakers hang in little boxes that are half 3M sticker things and half soap caddy that we chopped down to make little baskets for them. They’ve been up for at least a year now and haven’t moved an inch, with on-base housing.

    =) I think they look cute.

  3. We could not mount ours off base, so we had to buy an entertainment center. We have our mount here (ours is a 50″ tv, the arm is fully articulating, professional grade). We need to get rid of it if you are interested.

  4. I need information on where to get a large mirror for half moon table. The mirror is missing and I need a repair shop to install the mirror and have the part to fix it. If you know of anyone, please let me know. Thank you

  5. If you’re stuck with white, cement walls, a really good creative touch is to paint the walls one color, and find cool Wall stencils that help you paint designs onto yours walls. It’ll give it a nice homey, unique, artsy look without dealing with wall art situations. For the more artistically talented folks, you could free hand a nice design in a corner of the room or something. Just look around online for ideas. The same goes for kids rooms! 🙂 it might even be fun for them to get to make a little art on their own walls in their room!

  6. We live in an older, un-remodeled house on Kadena with 5′ thick cement walls. Okay, maybe not THAT thick, but thick enough. My husband borrowed a hammer drill from Eagle Hardware to hang some of our heavier items (a framed mirror and a canvas picture we purchased in Germany) but everything else we’ve put up with the 3M Command strips. And I’m talking EVERYTHING, including all my curtain rods. We’ve lived in this house for 18 months and have yet to have any of those strips fall down (except when my monkey-son tried climbing up the curtains.) Eagle Hardware carries picture hooks – both wire-backed and tooth-backed – from time to time, but I’ve been able to find those plus all kinds of hooks and other Command products at the BXs on island. This will probably be our easiest (and most friendly-to-our-walls) PCS yet.

  7. The lady in the office at housing that approves DIY projects (such as painting) said that we only have to paint the walls back to the nasty beige/yellowy color if the color that we painted it cannot be covered up with one coat of paint. Anyone else hear this?

    Our spare bedroom is painted white, as are three of the walls in our living room (the other one is lime gree, we know we’ll be painting that sucker back before we leave!)

  8. Jennifer,
    We just moved into base housing this month and all the beige is a little overwhelming! I went to Eagle Hardware on base. It is a store that stocks a limited amount of home improvement supplies. Every housing unit is given a set amount to spend per year. They have paint! I was not disappointed in their color selection. You can buy 4 buckets every 90 days. There is a form you have to fill out and get approved by the housing office. I got the form at Eagle Hardware and brought it right over to Housing. They approved it on the spot and I could take it back to Eagle Hardware and get the paint. Before you move out of the house, you have to paint it back to beige. They also carry that paint at Eagle Hardware.

  9. What are the rules on painting your walls in base housing? I’ve seen several pictures of base housing and the walls are all white. Can we paint and what are the rules? We’re PCSing to Oki in July 2010.

    Thank you!!

  10. Just moved into one of the towers. How do people hang curtains on the sliding glass doors? I am having a lot of trouble finding curtains that are a) long enough b) can be shipped to Okinawa c) ones that I like 😉 and d) can’t find any that hang on the tracks that are already in the ceiling in the apartment. Any help out there? Where did you find your curtains and how did you hang them up? There doesn’t seem to be any room to hang up rods so I am at a loss. Thank you in advance. I knew that someone out there on Okinawa Hai would be able to help!

  11. I’m not sure how people are having success with the “on command” adhesive hooks, but every one of them we put up falls down within a day…LOL – I think it’s the humidity — finally gave up and used caulk on the back of the hook, let it dry for a couple of days (back in Albuquerque it took an hour to harden!) and then hang whatever on it. That works well in the bathrooms; we hung our big mirror in the dining area (4x5ft; about 30lbs) on two of the large “25lb” plastic with 4 pins hook dealies. I don’t know if it’s the paint or what, but none of the adhesives I’ve tried have worked; even the stupid little “cafe latte” thing I have that weighs MAYBE 1/2 lb falls down…LOL We use masonry bits and anchors for big stuff and those hammer-in hooks for medium stuff.

  12. Does anyone know where I can find a store that has more of a variety of paint shades rather than Makemen? I’ve already gotten the max amount I can get from Eagle Hardware and unfortunately I picked the wrong color and they won’t swap them out. Please help!

  13. We used the little adhesive hooks. They’re worked great and are available for free at the Self-Help store if you live on base. You can find a ton of other stuff there too, like paint, and all you need is a paper from housing allowing it. If you don’t, then the BX has both paint and picture hooks.

    In addition to the ‘not sure about the towers:’ the towers on Kadena are half cement half dry wall. My husband and I just had our mind set that our things were going on the cement wall which is why the adhesive hooks were great.

  14. Best way to hang things on cement walls is to use a hammer drill and a masonry bit. Don’t use the US bits that they sell on base, go to Makeman and buy one there. They are in an orange and grey wrapper and some even say concrete on the package.

    Buy cement screws as well. They have little “wings” that stick out from the thread and grab the cement as you screw them in. The bit should be one size smaller than the screw. If in doubt when at Makeman just hold up a screw or bit and ask “cemento?”…the worker will show you the right one.

  15. Thanks, everyone. I’ll try the hooks again. I did get a masonry bit for a regular drill, and it really did about as well as the hammer drill did, honestly. Not all off base housing is all concrete, the “monopoly houses” across the way from me have sheet rock in the middles too. I think this place (being a hotel, and being 1/2 a block from the beach – and being built in 2002) was just built to last the typhoons, and the walls are totally soundproof this way too, which is nice.

  16. Just a remark for those reading this post who haven’t moved here yet or are still looking for housing – a small pro of newer on-base housing (the newer multiplexes for sure, not sure about the newer towers) is that all of our interior walls but one (and it’s in the bathroom, so it isn’t so bad) are wood, not concrete – they must be “dummy walls” or something, since the outsides are concrete, but it does make it nice to hang up pictures.

  17. Joelle on Aug 21st was right…I bought mine at the BX and PX, but they were often sold out. Wish I’d known about Eagle Hardware when I lived in Oki. Just a quick note on hanging things: If you go with the adhesive stuff, it eventually falls off. Read the package and see how long it’s supposed to last, and take it down early. I had 2 tours in Okinawa, and actually had a few art pieces fall off the wall. In the humidity, the adhesive doesn’t last as long as the package says. Oh, and you can buy the plastic hooks w/ the 3 metal prongs that are big enough to hold your 20 lb item. Or use 2 hooks if your piece is big enough. Once in a while, the prongs chip a chunk of the cement off. I think the risk is worth it to have a touch of home.

  18. I always used our regular rechargeable drill/screwdriver with a masonry bit. If you don’t have any masonry bits, go to makeman in the ‘store’ at the back of the garden area and they have them there. They look very similar to a regular bit except have a little extra edge around the top..ok, very hard to describe that, sorry. Then, I just screwed in a little short screw and I was good to go.

  19. I actually bought paint for my bedroom just 2 nights ago at Makeman. Unfortunately, the one in Mihama does not “mix to match” (don’t know if other stores do) — so you just buy the color closest to what you want. It is in the bldg off the plant courtyard. I now have an aqua-bluey wall when I just wanted a bluey wall — but it’ll do!! Some color is just so nice!

  20. Diana, thanks! I’m going to try that for the smaller pictures. I’m really sad about a piece of art we bought in the states (it’s a mirror mounted in heavy wood and it’s probably close to 20lbs) that we just cannot hang. We had an on-base buddy borrow that hammer drill too – it was fun to wield, but alas – I just made big holes that were a 1/2″ deep and couldn’t go further.

    Those little round cement things are the ones I tried – the pins bent every which way and it just took chunks out of my wall. (Tried it inside the closet in a dark corner so as not to mess up good wall just in case!) Diana, I’d love a picture of the tape so I can find it. Bless the 100 yen store!! Thanks, all.

    As for paint, Diann, Makeman (sp?) – aka “the Monkey Store” in town near American Village is the Japanese Home Depot. They must sell paint there. It might be in the other building, at the back end of the plant sales courtyard. Don’t laugh, it took me 4 visits to find that part of the store! Go forth and pinkify!

  21. The Eagle Hardware place on Kadena (where you get free hardware & stuff for your house) has cement nail thingys that work great. They are a round plastic white disc with a picture hook that has 3 little nails that go through it. They come in different sizes to hold different weights. You just line the plastic thing up to where you want the hook and bang with a hammer a couple of times. It just makes these little holes in the cement but somehow magically holds even HEAVY pictures.

  22. My husband doesn’t trust the little round cement things. But I’m going to try them! He’s in the bigger is better mode of handyman fixing. As such we rent the hammer drill with cement drill bits from eagle hardware. Still takes a while to drill though. (hehe I just read this and it makes him sound like some macho construction guy. And if you know anything about James…he’s soooo not)

  23. Our housing inspector swears by adhesive hooks for items up to ten pounds, you might want to try those. Since you’re on the topic of spiffing up the walls of your Okinawan digs, does anyone know where one can buy paint? There will be little peace in the household ’til my girls get some (oh joy) pink walls.

  24. Believe it or not, the 100 Yen store sells this cool double sided tape that holds up almost anything. It’s called “Super power double side tape of acrylic form” (stet) and is available in various sizes. The type I buy is 19mm X 1m and is all white. The packing says it is good for use on metal, plastic, glass, wood, etc., and that it’s adhesive power is a superpower, is excellent heatproof, and peels off well. I live out in town and use it to hang up pictures on my cement walls. So far, nothing has fallen on my head! Hope this helps. I can email a picture of it if requested.