Okinawa Hai fallback


This post inspired by Aviva’s Saturday in Naha

Here in Okinawa, maybe in all of Japan, getting the most out of space is an art form. It requires more creative energy and ingenuity and at least a dozen degrees in civil engineering to achieve the genius that abounds here.

Let’s just take parking as an example. You will have your own parking stories. Okinawa promises you this.

There is only one rule about parking. BACK IN. Physics probably explains this logic with equations and potions and wands of sorts. I don’t often back in thus my bumper is riddled with cracks and dents and bruises.

My guess is that all those cars in the video that aren’t backed in have Y plates.


  1. I should add that I generally do not ‘back that thing up’ but I clearly remember my dad doing it and me sitting in the back of the car huffing away and twiddling my thumbs as he tried to squeeze the car into a space…maybe thats why I came to America LOL!

  2. The only explanation I’ve been offered for backing into parking spaces is that they/we (depending on the source) are “just taught to do it that way”. The ONLY reason I’ve come up is the quicker getaway than arrival but overall I can only see it increasing total time since it’s tough to steer/aim going backwards, therefore, backing into a smaller space is going to take longer than backing into a larger space. And I usually consider a single parking space. It makes no sense why I need to wait for the parking car that is blocking my way to finally squeeze in on their 3rd try rather than just pull forward in the first time & back out the first time.

    Oh, and the whole ingenuity with small spaces thing is definitely NOT an Okinawa thing, but rather Japanese. The whole fact that the average Okinawan drives a car is testament to the fact that Okinawans have LOADS of space to work with compared to their mainland countrymen. A recent visit to Osaka was definitely culture shocking despite having technically been in the same country we’ve been living in since January. I definitely have not more reluctance to bike on sidewalks after witnessing the skillful dance of pedestrians & bicyclists weaving together constantly in the big city!

  3. Wow, Pamelala — that is so meaningful! I mean, it’s like delayed gratification as a whole nation! The opposite of American get-what-you-can-get-now attitudes… that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the cultural insight! Weird that I’m getting it here in Japan!

  4. I think the logic (for brits at least since I am one!) is…work hard now and have it easy later! you back into the car park space in sainsburys do all your shopping, get into a couple of arguments with other shoppers and then get out QUICK!!! no reversing involved!!!

  5. Wow, I wish I could park like that! Typically it takes me about 10 minutes to back into a spot and it usually involves bumping my car into a wall too. I usually break out in a sweat from the stress! I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it would take twice as long to get out without parking that way.

  6. I was amazed when we got here to see that everyone backed in to their parking spots. We had moved from England where EVERYONE backs into their parking spots. In the three years I was there I never worked out the logic of it for England — hopefully I can figure it out here?? Maybe it has something to do with driving on the “wrong” side of the road?? 🙂

  7. Haha! Glad I could inspire – and yes, driving and parking on this island could probably be a blog topic purely its own – everyone backs in here! It’s so true. I figure it’s because the spots & driveways & alleys are so tiny, it’s much easier to pull back out forwards than try to determine if there’s an oncoming vehicle when you’re backing up. Either way, it’s just another part of the adventure.

    Still amazes me how the Americans here need SUVs and vans despite the difficulty they’ll find parking them. Alas, with a gaggle of kids and our need for safe car seats, it’s a must to have one bigger vehicle sometimes. After all – we ARE professional drivers, right?