This last weekend, my wife (whom we call Red), Alexis and I were out shopping. Red needed her weekly therapy session (shopping at Target & Kohl’s), I needed to run to Academy Sports and we all needed to go to the HEB (big grocery store) to get some stuff for dinner.  I coach youth soccer and I wanted to check prices on soccer shoes, shin guards and balls before I had my first meeting with the parents.  If you’ve ever coached before, you know how important it is to have prices squared away before the first meeting…parents expect the coach to know things like this.

Anyway, on the way there, Red was telling Alexis how she better soak up all the shopping & product diversity now because this time next year our choices would be much more limited.  She didn’t get it, so we decided to add a little learning to the shopping trip.

Our first stop was Academy Sports.  It didn’t take long to find the first example…please note the aisle full of football/soccer balls.


Shoes And then there were the shoes…all 12 aisles of them.

I asked Alexis if she understood what we meant when we said our choices are going to be a bit more limited in Japan.  She said, “sort of.”

After Academy Sports, we went to Target.  Red absolutely loves Target and I’m actually a little concerned she might suffer from a serious case of red shopping cart withdrawal when we get to Okinawa.  Maybe we can find a Japanese equivalent somewhere on the island.

Red wanted to make some fish tacos for dinner so we scooted across town to the H-E-B to load up on some goodies.  Well we just so happened to be walking by the Jell-O which I used as the perfect example of “product diversity”.  I mean look at all the choices under Jell-O brand.  There were over 85 choices when you add in the store brands.


I explained to Alexis we’d only have a few choices due to the cost of shipping items overseas.  Leave to Alexis to put it in perspective.  She said, “I’d rather have a beach than 100 types of Jell-O!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

***Passport Update***

Good news on the passport front!  It took exactly six weeks for our passports to come back from the State Department.  As I said in a previous post; if you have any concerns, be sure to get with the passport agent ASAP.  Even with our unique situation we were able to get our documents well in advance.

For all posts from the Howe Family:  PCS IIIIIIIVVVIVII, VIII, IX


  1. Brandi, me and my family just found out that they will be reporting to Oki in March to… I am so excited and lost lol… this site is helping… but i still confused… bring a car dont? This whole thing is nuts and fun lol

  2. There is nothing wrong with 100Y store dishes. I was stationed at Misawa (2006-9) and still have some of those dishes. My family is moving to Kadena in March and I can’t wait to go to the 100Y store.

  3. Certain types of glazes are prone to lead content, but those glazes are not used only by cheap dish-makers. I think it was Pfaltzgraff that recalled a series of rather expensive dishes for lead in the glaze. I’ve bought plenty of dishes from the 100Y store that I’ve been very happy with – and part of what I like about them is that I don’t get upset if/when my daughter accidentally breaks one. Anyway, half the dishes we eat on in restaurants clearly came from various 100Y stores around the island.
    But, as I said, just wondering if there was something I was missing out on knowing.

  4. I’m not sure why you shouldn’t? With small children, I love nothing better than dishes from the 100Y stores. Montessori philosophy is to let children have REAL stuff. Stuff that breaks, which teaches them about being careful with STUFF. But I’m not going to give them my NICE dishes!!! 🙂 100Y is perfect for that, I say! I buy 12 plates so that we can break lots! 🙂 Hmmm… maybe it’s the issue of lead in the dishes?? That could be. Yikes. Hadn’t thought of that!

  5. I agree with most all of the above. Though you may not find everything that Target has to offer all under one roof it typically can be found on or off base. However, it does come at a price with some things. Every so often you will notice that buying something in the store, though more convenient, may not be the best price. For those items I recommend or some other web site. Clothes here can be quite reasonably priced but home decor items are somewhat hit and miss. You will find some of them are quite pricey. I have found though that the quality of items here tend to be quite good. There are plenty of hobby stores here as well. Like stated above, if you don’t go off base you are missing out. The culture here is quite inviting and one should utilize everything it has to offer during their stay here if you ask me. Just keep an open mind and have fun.

  6. Regarding clothing- just as a general note, Japanese people overall tend to be pretty small-so if you are taller, or wear larger sizes (including shoes), expect to have more difficulty finding clothing off base.

    Also, the clothing has a very distinct style that is very different than typical American styles. (I have found this to be true of all clothing-men/women and children.)

    I would definitely advise keeping an open mind, but come armed with your favorite websites and sizes you wear in each particular brand!

  7. I think all the off base stores for furniture or household items all remind me of Ikea. Small little sofas, tables, and shelving. There are some really cool stores but not obviously what we are used to. Love the clothing stores here. Before we moved I went on a total clothing shopping spree and regretted it after seeing the cool clothes at reasonble prices. What I miss most—COSTCO!!!!!!!

  8. I thought I would miss Target and the malls and such as well…but turns out, not so much! Even when I went back to the States, those stores had lost their luster. While I did shop and get new clothes for myself and my kids, it wasn’t like I thought it would be. I’ll partake while I’m stateside, but don’t miss it while in Oki. I don’t do much shopping overall here-I prefer to spend my time doing things that I couldn’t do stateside-and making the most of my time in Oki!

  9. The Y100 stores are a joke, I can’t believe how many people dote over them. Often you can get better products somewhere else. I definitely wouldn’t suggest buying dishes there, but that’s common sense (or should be).

    You can find the other stuff you need, or buy it online and have it shipped here. Don’t worry so much.

  10. And I will also second the comment above – your choices are only limited if you never leave base! Once you go through those gates, it is a whole new, wide-open shopping world. The Japanese are at least as big of a consumer culture as the US is, so there is plenty of “stuff” to chose from.

  11. I will take the big 100 Yen stores and a San-A/Jusco over Target. I just don’t really miss the place that much. But my goodness how I will miss the 100 Yen store/Daiso when we leave. 🙁

    Nitori does have a lot you might need for your home, but lacks the “world market” feel of Pier 1. However, we do like some of the furniture upstairs and plan to get our daughter one of those neat half bunk things up there sometime soon. I do like the store and buy a lot of things there. They also have a point card (like most other places here).

    And don’t forget ETWS!

  12. Just the thought of no Target is making me a little weepy. (2 weeks left until we move to Oki) My husband keeps telling me “you’ll be able to find whatever you need”. He SOOO doesn’t get the Target thing…

  13. There are definitely some things that you will miss over here, but you can find most of whatever you really need. If you are concerned about sports, there is Sports Depo. It is basically an Academy, but without the football part. Another great place to shop is Nitori which is like a huge Pier 1 Imports with everything you could need for your house. The commisaries are not the best, but they work, though they are a bit more expensive. If anyone tells you that you will be limited here, they do not go outside. Anything you cant find on island, you can find on the internet!