Follow Sarah’s OCONUS to OCONUS journey here:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5


In 2008, Staci Hawley wrote a “You Know You Lived in Okinawa When” post for OkinawaHai. I read that post before I even stepped foot on Okinawa for the first time. Part of me couldn’t wait for some of those things to happen, because that actually meant I had been there and done that. Part of me couldn’t believe that any of these will actually happen to me.

Four years after the first post was written, I have sadly said “Sayonara” to Okinawa, and while I physically am no longer on that beloved island, I can officially say that a part of my heart is still there. I don’t know if some habits I picked up will leave any too soon. Just the other day I noticed my husband and I still bowing slightly as we introduced ourselves!

I asked our readers to help me and I have revamped the list. Without further adieu, I proudly unveil the 2012 version of:

You Know You Lived in Okinawa When…

15. You answer the phone with “Moshi, Moshi.”

14. You walk in the door and your family takes off their shoes. Even at restaurants.

13. “There’s no festival this weekend? What? There’s a festival every weekend!”

12. You prefer to back in to parking spaces.

Okinawan Decorated Car | Okinawa Hai

11. “Strangers are taking pictures of my children? No problem!”

10. All the cars in your child’s matchbox fleet say “beep, beep” when they back up.

9. Driving over 50mph seems excessive.

8. You still think twice about which side of the car is for the driver and which is for the passenger, and when you start the ignition you repeat “Hiney on the Liney!”

7. You are surprised at the lack of vending machines in the middle of nowhere. How are we supposed to get a hot can of coffee?

Drinks Machine | Okinawa Hai

6. You now fear for your child’s life because she thinks that simply holding her hand up at the crosswalk will create a protective bubble when crossing the street.

5. A large portion of your HHG (House Hold Goods) weight allowance was devoted to bringing Coco Ichibanya curry back with you, and you would never dream of serving it on TOP of rice. Everyone knows it belongs on the other half of the plate!
And the last four are repeats from the original list, but are deserving of the repost:

4. At least one person, man, woman or child, is giving the peace sign in each and every group photo.

Japanese Peace Sign | Okinawa Hai

3. Relatives in the States don’t seem to know where Okinawa is. Therefore any event that happens in Asia must have happened to you. Also, the time zones don’t really apply, right?

2. You bow – a lot! To the grocery store clerk, to the ATM, while on the phone…

and the NUMBER ONE way you know you’ve lived in Okinawa is….

1. The word “Hai” refuses to leave your vocabulary!


  1. Yes, yes, YES! We are in Texas now and #1 is SO true. We all keep saying “Hai”, and my youngest (who spent the bulk of his life so far in Okinawa) keeps complaining that people’s “Japanese” (Spanish) doesn’t sound like the “right kind of Japanese”. LOL