Before moving to Okinawa, Yoni and I had millions of questions. Where will we be living? What’s the deal with the electric current? What would Yoni’s job be like? Would he be away a lot? And on, and on. But while some of these questions were serious, big-picture ones, others were more mundane questions like: will I ever find anyone who knows how to cut curly hair? Where will I get Penny’s hair cut? Where and how will we see movies? – and more questions like this. One year later, we kind of have a handle on things.
First things first: haircuts. Yoni is the easiest in this regard. With the grooming standards of the Marine Corps as strict as they are, Yoni has his hair cut every two weeks (he says he’s supposed to do it once a week) on base at one of the many “salons” in existence for exactly this reason. These barber shops DO get busy, especially if you go at the wrong time of the day/week, but they are readily available all over the island. Penny’s hair is not as easy to wrangle. There is a dog-grooming place on Kadena Air Base, about 20 minutes north of our apartment. I’m pretty sure, though, that the groomer there had never seen an Airedale before; she never looked seriously weird, but she didn’t exactly look right, either. And it was pretty expensive – almost as much as we were paying on the upper west side. Then we decided to be brave and try an off-base groomer. They did a better job (and she got a bandana!), but it was also very expensive. Finally, a friend with a dog recommended an American woman (a military spouse) who was doing grooming out of her apartment. The price was right AND she had done Airedales before. I only hope she won’t hold Penny’s recent discretions against us!
And then there’s my hair. While there are hair salons on base (in what they call the “concession mall”), most women agree that they hairstylists there are not great. Instead, women seem to either find other spouses who cut hair out of their apartments, or to venture off base and hope for the best. On the recommendation of a friend with wavy-ish hair, I went to a lovely Japanese woman who spoke very little English (although you could tell that she had practiced certain expressions, like “is the water too hot?). Once I figured out how to answer the question of whether or not I wanted my haircut to be “round,” she did a great job.
Second: movies. There are seven military movie theatres on island. Well, maybe “movie theatre” is over-stating things a bit. I should have said “theatres where movies are shown.” They are all one-room operations, seat somewhere between 150-900 people, and come complete with a stage with curtains and everything (as the theatre is not only used for movies). Movies are rotated around the island to make sure they are being shown a minimum number of times in all the theatres. And while we do often get first-run movies, the movies we get are almost always action/adventure, family-friendly, or romantic comedy. It’s usually not too bad, although there are plenty of weeks when Yoni and I both agree that there’s nothing worth seeing. At least it’s cheap – $5.50/person for a first-run movie, and less for an older one. OH – and we have to stand at attention for the national anthem before the movie begins. (Really, this deserves an entire blog post of its own.) And it’s not like they’re just playing the star-spangled banner over the sound system. No, there are four or five musical montages made some time in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s with themes like “historical” and “nostalgia”, and one of them gets chosen to play before each movie.
I had more ideas of things to write about, but Shabbat is approaching and this post is already on the long side. So instead, I put this question to you: any aspects of daily life you’re particularly curious about / burning questions you’d like answered about “how do you do x”?? Let us know in the comments, and either Yoni or I will try to address it in the coming weeks and months. Shabbat Shalom!