Okinawa Hai fallback


Three things this post WAS going to be about until exhaustion punched me in the ear.

  1. Our last deployment has begun and that is groovy, hum-drum and infuriating all in one tidy ball that I think I threw out the window or left in the car or something.
  2. Henry has an upcoming field trip to the Orion Brewery with his day-care. D-A-Y C-A-R-E + B-R-E-W-E-R-Y. Not sure what that equals. I might be more amused than I am concerned.
  3. Maltsby may be on his way home thanks to the awesome-ness of awesome people.

But seriously, who cares? Why subject you to the minutia of my life when I can tell you about that car we recycled for enough money to pay for my very own Koinobori set AND that noren I’ve been coveting over at Murasaki Mura. Now that is something to get hot and bothered about at the water cooler.

For three years now I have seen signs about how the local dealerships JUNK vehicles for free. And I thought that was cool because junk is definitely what our cars have become and junking is in order because the bad karma we would rack up if we tried to sell these vehicles would not be worth it. And big garbage, like a car, would cost a lot to put out on garbage day so I’m all thinking ahead and ready to get our cars junked for free. What a bargain, thinks me.

Joe thinks not.

Turns out you can get paid to recycle your car. Instantly. My guess is that those dealerships that junk your car for free are recycling your car for cash that could have been yours. Not sure that’s true but why else would they want to junk your car for free?

Joe’s Honda Civic was put to rest last week BUT we didn’t junk it. We RECYCLED it. Sounds nicer than junking anyway, wouldn’t you say? And we got paid money for it. 47,000 yen. Joe says that was based on weight and had nothing to do with the state of the car which was definitely Rated R. Then he got money back from the insurance company and our JCI on top of that. Five hundred dollars later we’re one car down and we hardly had to interact with humans to boot. No advertisement on Japan Update, no phone calls or bargaining with all the suitors, no fake promises about how it isn’t just a hunk of broken aluminum.

This list of HOW TO RECYCLE YOUR CAR was passed down to Joe. And now I pass it down to you. Author is unknown. Author lined our pockets. If I had any idea who Author was I would hire him to organize my shelves.

If your car is junk and needs to be junked, RECYCLE instead!

I’m moving over to let the Author speak.

The below (by the numbers) can take approximately 2 to 3 hours of your time, depending on how fast you move. However, so as long as I’m on Okinawa, I’ll never turn my “junk” vehicle over to Typhoon Motors because you will receive nothing by them recycling your vehicle for you. My vehicle, a Toyota Surf (bad engine) gave me a return of $800.00 by doing these steps myself.


  • Drive/Tow the vehicle to the recycling center. Here are the directions:
  • Go towards Naha (south) on route 58. Make a right turn as if going into Camp Kinser’s gate 4 (Esso station on right).
  • Go past the first set of traffic lights to the bottom of the hill. On the right hand side you will see a yellow/tan warehouse. In between the two warehouses is the entrance.
  • Once you go in, about 75 meters up, you will see a huge weighing scale on the left. Drive your vehicle onto the weighing scale.
  • There will be a beeping sound once your vehicle has been weighed. Once you are done, you will be directed to another garage.
  • Once you get your vehicle to the garage site, there is where you will be turning over your vehicle. At that point, you will be given your license plates (2) and your road tax sticker off of the windshield. Remember, at this point, you will no longer have the vehicle, so make sure all personal items are out.
  • Take the plates, road tax sticker, paperwork from Foster Veh. Registration and all of your paperwork from your vehicle back to where you got the vehicle weighed. Go inside the bldg thru the sliding doors.
  • Once inside, the civilian will call you for your signature and address on a sheet of paper. They will then pay you (in Yen) depending on the weight of your vehicle. This might take about 15-20 min.
  • Once you are paid, they are done with you.


  • Take all of your paperwork that you will have in hand (to include paperwork from recycling cntr, license plates and road tax sticker) and go back to the vehicle registration office at Camp Foster. Hand the personnel behind the counter your paperwork.
  • They will then direct you to a counter on the right side of the bldg (same office space). There they will stamp some of your paperwork and you must pay a 1,000 Yen fee to have your vehicle deregistered (on base). They only accept Yen.


  • Once again, take all items (plates, stickers, paperwork etc..) to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) which you passed when you went to the recycling center. Here are the directions:
  • Make the same right turn as if going to the recycling center (Esso station), but this time, you will make a right turn at the first stop light. You will see a sign above the street light that reads “Land Transportation Office”.
  • Follow the road (downward) for about 200 meters until you come to BIG (there are a few smaller ones) open parking lot almost at the end of the road. Turn left into that lot.
  • You will know that you are in the correct parking lot because you will see a garage type bldg with numbered stalls directly in front of you.
  • To the left of all that, you will see a bldg marked with LTO. Go inside.
  • Once inside, ask sometime to direct you to Counter D. There you will turn in your license plates. They will keep the license plates and stamp your paperwork. You will then be directed to report to the Military/SOFA Status Counter, # 2.
  • At Counter # 2, you will hand them all of your paperwork (they’ll return what they don’t need back to you). They too will stamp some of your paperwork. This is the counter where you will actually receive the original “de-registration” paperwork that clears your name off of that title. It’s very important to keep this until you actually check out to leave Okinawa.
  • Once you are done with counter 2, you will be directed to report to a separate bldg (behind the bldg your in) and you will report to the “Road Tax Refund Center”.
  • Here they will either refund you a portion of your road tax (in Yen) proportional to the last time you paid road tax, or in my case, I had to pay one month’s road tax because my vehicle was coming up on needing the road tax in May.


  • Take whatever remaining paperwork that you might have to your insurance company (AIU, ACE, etc.). Then they will cancel your insurance policy for that vehicle (JCI, American Insurance) again proportional to when you last paid for these and refund you a portion back.

Last and final note:

  • You might want to check with vehicle registration at Foster about a week or so later and have them check to see if all has cleared for you on that vehicle. This may sound like a little bit of inconvenience and some driving, but it was worth it for a vehicle that I would not be able to sell.

{EDITOR’S NOTE, JUNE 2012: This post originally gave directions to go to Foster’s vehicle registration office as the first step. We have been informed that this is not correct and have removed that information from this post.}


All the posts in Meredith’s “Me & My Big PCS” series: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX

For posterity’s sake we have left this universally euphoric, terrified, confused, “what am I doing?!” series on Okinawa Hai.  On most other posts in this series we have closed comments; however, this post is full of still-relevant and helpful information.  Please read through the comments below as well. Thank you for joining us on this ride.


  1. I used the instructions from this post to junk my vehicle by Kinser. They don’t start until 0830 so if you show up earlier you’ll have to wait and you can watch them do their morning exercises 🙂 I have a mazda mpv and was paid 252,45 yen at the 17 rate. Today is a Japanese holiday so I paid my insurance company 2500 yen to complete the remainder of the process and I will go back on Friday to get my road tax refund. The workers at the Kinser recycling center are really friendly and helpful, and some of their English speaking skills are amazing! Very simple process.

  2. I used the instructions from this post to junk my vehicle by Kinser. I have a mazda mpv and was paid 252,45 yen at the 17 rate. Today is a Japanese holiday so I paid my insurance company 2500 yen to complete the remainder of the process and I will go back on Friday to get my road tax refund. The workers at the Kinser recycling center are really friendly and helpful, and some of their English speaking skills are amazing! Very simple process.

  3. Check with the scrapyard for the rates. Currently (Winter 2015) they are giving out 9 Yen/Kg. So for a minivan you get about $120 and then have to give $40 back. not worth the money when the scrap rate is low. If you give it to MCCS Typhoon, they don’t give you anything (including your remaining road tax) but at least the car is near the auto hobby shop so Marines can pick over the parts.

  4. I went there today and let me say, SUPER EASY! I only made it to the recycling center and to VRO though. Lunch time was coming and I wasn’t going to make it in time and my kids would be coming home soon if I went after they came back from lunch. I love that the steps are broken down which it makes it easy. I was worried it wasn’t going to be as easy as the directions seemed and I would end up frustrated but it was. I got 35,000 yen for my husband’s car which floods inside EVERY TIME it rains. Great for off base adventures before our time here comes to an end this summer. Thank you very much for the guidance!

  5. Does anyone know specific directions to the Kinser Recycle Car lot outside of Gate 4? I see a “junk yard” on the left side of the road as you leave Kinser outside of Gate 4, is that the correct one?

  6. I just recycled my 1997 Estima Van today. I received Y 33,948 @ 23 Y per kilogram. I also received Y 12,700 road tax return. It was well worth the trip to recycle down at the Recycle Center outside of the Kinser side gate. At all stops everyone was very helpful and certainly made it worthwhile to do by myself. The only fees I incurred was Y 200 at the recycling center and Y 1000 to deregister at Foster. It was a lot easier than I thought and I appreciate everyone’s input!

  7. I just got done with this process. The recycle part is easy, the LTO Office is a bit confusing. Start in Building Number 1 Window D. Then goto Building 2 Window 2. Once done there walk out the door behind you and enter building 9 across the street to get refund for road taxes.

    Insurance refund is a bit confusing with ACE if you had obtained service from the hobby shop on Kadena they have moved to the pizza inn outside Gate 1. Make sure they see the de-register certificate or they will ask for some additional letters.

    Current yen rate for recycle was 23 for me today.

  8. I work at the vehicle registration office and we have had quite a fwe people coming to our office as the first step. This information is wrong and if I could ask that it be taken off or corrected so people do not waste their time.

  9. My mother never drove on Okinawa save two brief months that she owned some huge old beater car that a family in our housing development off base, Morgan Manor, sold her for $25 when they moved back to the states. The car was the hugest thing I’ve ever seen in my life and on its last legs. But for two months, she had a car and was the talk of Morgan Manor. Speaking of Morgan Manor, is it still around? I think it was near Kadena Circle or off of Kadena Circle. Possibly in Yomitan.

    Lisa Bertotto Schmelz
    A 44-Year-Old Brat

  10. Update: I went with Toma’s Garage(1002-2 Yara Kadena). I guess it depends on where you go…and I was told there were 2 just opposite each other right outside Kadena, but went to the one with the dressed figure outside their parking lot. It seemed pretty easy, but I guess I’m not doing it all the way I thought. I had my van towed to Toma’s (they can tow you, but you’d have to escort them on, so Auto Hobby did it for me). I went to Toma’s Garage and he explained that he needed FIVE papers signed and stamped…and 1 carbon copy…and another 2 with just signatures. Filled out the names on the papers, he gave me an estimate back. Went to Vehicle Registration on Foster and got the 5 pages stamped. Went back to Toma’s Garage and he looked it over. Gave me 2-3 more papers to sign over and explained he was going to do the rest. For a 1992 Toyota Hi-Ace, I received Y31,500. I asked him about plates and stickers and he said that he does that. I am not really sure what to do next. I’m going to wait a few days and call Foster’s Vehicle Registration to see if everything was cleared so I can start searching for a new vehicle. Took me 2-3 hours b/c I didn’t have exact POA, but I’m sure would’ve been quicker had my name been on the vehicle. It’s my experience at least. For those that just want it over and done with…Toma’s seems to be an easier route. G’luck!

    • Just recycled my Toyota Spacio (small car) at the recycling center near gate one. (Hang a right out of Kadena Gate 1 (Hwy 58).Go straight till you get to the dealership with the picture of Aladdin (on your left) and the pedestrian overpass (towards your front).Take a left at the light after the overpass and go straight (The Kadena fence line will be on your right and you’ll be heading towards the ocean). You’ll run straight into the recycle center. The scale is on the right.) Then they told me to take the plates & stickers and tried to send me on my way – I then had to say, ” You pay me for the car” Then they took the weight off my JCI paper work,( didn’t bother with the scale which I had pulled onto) and paid me 21,500Yen ( should have been 22 per kilo) but they also charged me a small fee – something about 2nd person? They give you a piece of paper with directions on how to junk and de-register your car in English – it doesn’t say anything about them paying you for the car … interesting. Unfortunately, my car was not going to make the drive to the recycle center by Kinser, otherwise I would have gone there. It sounds like you will get more $ and they are honest. It’s a holiday, so Foster is closed but I plan on following the rest of the directions to de-register and hopefully get some money back for my road tax, JCI and insurance. Will post if anything is different then listed above.

  11. As of May when we recycled our car, the steps listed above haven’t changed aside from step 1. You do not need to go by vehicle registration first, we towed our car directly to the recycling center. The part at the LTO might seem a bit confusing with all the buildings and windows, but there are signs in English and people there helped direct us to where we needed to go. As for those who aren’t military, I would assume that you would start the process the same way, but go where ever you registered your car instead of going to vehicle registration on base.

  12. I’m working on this process myself and need to figure out the steps currently. Guess I’ll be making a few calls, but if someone knows…please let post away and if I manage to do this, I’ll see about posting an update.

  13. Does anyone know how this process works for those of us not in the military? I am hoping to do the process myself.

    I am considering recycling soon as well, simply because I don’t know if I can sell it before JCI is due. (And I leave the island 1 week later.)

    Thanks for any help!

  14. For anybody interested in doing this, we recycled one of our cars today. While there is a place by Kadena where you can recycle your car, I wouldn’t recommend it since they offered us only ¥6,000. We took our car to the one by Kinser and we got ¥28,215 for our little YRV. The rate was ¥33 per kilo. We checked several places around that also recycle and the one by Kinser does pay the most.

  15. This info was right on time, thank you all for keeping this going with updates.

    I recycled my Honda Legend 101223 and received Y33 per kg. This came out to Y47,200.00; about $570.00 for the current yen rate. I looked into junking it as the car had numerous problems in the year and half I owned it. I was quoted by B&M and EZ Car $60.00 for them to come and pick it up.

    It is definitely worth the time to do it yourself.

  16. I just junked my Delica today and the process was ridiculously easy! I went to the recycling center outside Kadena Gate 1 and was given 40,000 for it. After a quick trip to the Foster Veh. Office,LTO, & my insurance place we’ve got just over 66,000Y in our pocket. The whole process didn’t take more than 2 1/2 hours so it’s definitely worth your time to junk your car yourself rather than pay to have somebody do it for you.

  17. We just junked a car yesterday and it was very easy. In case anyone needs things to be SUPER specific, like me (and this may have already been mentioned), but the turn into the recycling center is BETWEEN the two large tan buildings. Drive through and there’s a metal “floor” next to a building straight ahead….that’s the scale. The ladies at the counter by the scale are very helpful and will direct you as to what to do.

    We got about $200 for our very small car(Toyota Starlet).

  18. A couple of changes to the post that I experienced today. For the most part the original post helped me a lot as I followed it word for word. However, there are some changes that I would like to share.

    First, you no longer have to vehicle registration for any paperwork. I was directed straight to the recycling center first. Then come back to vehicle registration for the latter of the second step.

    Finally, for the fourth step take your plates to LTO building 1 window D (hours 0800-1700). Next go to building 2 Military/SOFA Status counter (hours are between 0800-1600).

    As a side note you can transfer your own titles at this counter if you are reselling your vehicle and save your buyer $30.00.

    Once your are done at the SOFA counter the rest of the post is right on. Thanks for the great post. I received Y24,470 @ Y20 for my Toyota Feildtourer. Better then letting a dealer junk it for you!

  19. Just wanted to post an update to these comments since I had read that it might not be worth junking your car anymore. I am pleased to report that we junked my husband’s car today and received $200 for it!!! It was a smaller, sedan-type car (Presea). It was worth it to us, although when we got to Foster Vehicle Registration, it was 11:45am and the person was out to lunch until 12:30. We had to wait for them to open back up, then take the paperwork back down to the land transportation office.
    Also, Step 1 can be skipped b/c you DO NOT need to get any paperwork from the Vehicle Registation Office first. Go straight to the Recycle Center first.

  20. Helped a friend recycle her car today. Her car weighed about the same as mine did when I recycled this past summer. I got $400.00 for my car, she got $80.00. Big changes since the end of the Olympics in China.

  21. I just called the tow company to find out how much it would cost to tow our van to the recycle place. They said it’s no longer worth it to do it yourself as the value has gone down at least 8 times for scrap metal. He said this was apparently due to the Olympics. Now that China no longer needs the scrap for building it’s not worth it to recycle. This has me TOTALLY bummed out as I was hoping to get at least 400 for my beastly van, but now looks like I’ll be lucky to get a couple hundred:( And of course this had to be at the worst possible time as now my surf is having issues.

  22. We recycled our Toyota Noah today. Apparently a lot has changed :-.
    First off, you can go to Miyagi’s outside of Gate 1. You do not need a Power of Attorney to take your car there. You will need a POA if you want your insurance company to do the work for you. We had our insurance agency on Kadena (by 18 services HR and MPF) do the leg work for us. It cost $30 to have them do it for you (another agency-the one by GI Billpay wanted $40 to do it, so other agencies may be more or less). It is going to take a MONTH for us to get our money back 🙁 I am not sure if that is because of the holidays or our agency drags their feet, etc.
    Now the really bad news. Scrap metal has gone down in value. We only received 11,000 yen for our van (another place quoted us $60). This was a HUGE shock for us since we were hoping for enough to put a down payment on a new vehicle.

  23. We did this…yesterday! Our car was stranded over at the car care center on Foster so we called a number found from the link in Kaho’s comment above for the free tow. I was under the impression that we’d be towed to Kinser but were not. We were instead sent to the Kadena site which someone posted directions to above (very accurate directions!). We first showed up to Foster to try to get the paperwork in step one. They have changed the rules (for the moment anyway) and you do not need to stop there first now. We did have to meet the tow truck outside of the gate and have my husband ride onto base with him so be warned that you may need an extra person to drive with you if you go this route. The tow truck driver lifted our car off of the ground with a crazy hoist. I freaked out for a minute b/c I thought my husband was still in it when the car hit the truck and was dangling vertically! But he wasn’t and everything was fine. Once we arrived at the recycling center we then drove back to Foster to turn in our paperwork but they were getting ready to close for lunch for 2 hours. The nice woman behind the desk told us that for $20 we could take our plates and stickers to our insurance company and let them do everything else for us. That meant we didn’t have to drive around for anything else (like going to the Land Trans. Office in Kinser or waiting for the lunch break to finish up). We took the lazy route and opted for that. We ended up getting back all of our JCI insurance but will have to wait 10 days to pick up our road tax from the insurance company. It was actually a very quick process b/c of all of this. The only thing I was surpised by was what we received for the recycling. My husband’s 4 door sedan was apparently only worth about $187. But, hey it’s better than nothing right? It’ll pay for a nice evening out on the town:)

  24. We just recycled our 1995 Honda Odyssey and got 66,000 yen for the car itself and then 14,000 yen for the road tax reimbursement and then another 5,000 yen for the insurance reimbursement. It’s a bit of running around but Joe and I haven’t spent that much time alone in months! It was great AND we have 85,000 yen in our pockets.

    Figured that with all of the Odysseys on the island someone would want to know what you get for these big boys!

  25. Awesome information! Thank you so much for sharing the info, Mere! I was impressed with all the details. I’m glad that you guys earned some money by recycling your car. After “selling” your car to the recycle shop, the purchase of “Budda” must have been evened out. So, the recycle shops sell the parts that can be sold and the rest of the car will be recycled as raw material. If you want to take a look what the recycle shop does with the cars, here are the links.

    Recycling parts: Recycling Process:

  26. I just did this with my shag wagon and the instructions were perfect. The only thing I did different is that there is a recycle shop near Kadena near Gate 1.

    Hang a right out of Kadena Gate 1 (Hwy 58).
    Go straight till you get to the dealership with the picture of Aladdin (on your left) and the pedestrian overpass (towards your front).
    Take a left at the light after the overpass and go straight (The Kadena fence line will be on your right and you’ll be heading towards the ocean).
    You’ll run straight into the recycle center.
    The scale is on the right. Drive onto the scale, go inside, they’ll tell you how much, remove your plates and stickers, and then they’ll hand you some Yen.

    It saves you from having to drive all the way to Kinser (with someone), then driving all the way back to Foster, and then having to drive all the way back to Kinser.

  27. Meredith,

    This was fantastic info about the cars…but what I REALLY REALLY MUST KNOW is where you bought your very own koinobori?! I have been looking everywhere for a nice authentic one-even better if it was made just for our family. Where did you get yours? It is becoming a “must-have” on my ever growing list of “must haves.” 🙂

  28. Thanks for the great steps…I knew there had to be a catch as to why people would junk your car for free.

    I definitely would never junk my car unless JCI was more than the car was worth…which is rarely the case but it still great info to have just in case. We had a van when we were last time that we gave away for free, when we left just because of timing but it would have JCI’d easily with little work…

    I wrote up something similar to this on how to JCI a car on your own as well because it really is not as hard as some people think.

  29. Meredith, what valuable information! I’ll need it a year from now when we leave. At the rate I’m going, my car is doomed. Daycare + brewery … only in Japan (although my husband’s grandmother talks often of her medicinal all-cure in a hotty totty). Thanks again for the great info.

  30. We just did this with my husbands truck. It was disel, so the gas was killing us. We downsized to a much smaller car. We end up making about 25000yen and still bought another car. This process was great except for all the driving back and forth!!

  31. Ohh, this couldnt have came at a better time! The hubby deploys soon, and the JCI expires during that time. We had considered junking to just not have to mess with that whole JCI thing.. But, this may be an option 🙂 🙂
    Did they let you know the amount of yen you would be paid before taking off the plates?