Okinawa: Even though Japan is one of the world’s leading economies, Okinawa is the poorest province. Due to its rural and subtropical location, there is less infrastructure than on the mainland. The benefits of living here are a slower pace of life and an emphasis on healthy, sustainable living.
The small island is only 65 miles long and an average of five miles wide. It’s surrounded by pristine, unpolluted air and environment.
Gorgeous vistas of the East China Sea and Pacific Ocean are everywhere. That means you are constantly surprised by glimpses of crystal glittering ocean every time you take a short drive around town. Or you can easily choose to live in an apartment with an ocean view at a fraction of the rent it would cost in another country.
Moreover, many activities and sights are within close driving distance and there is no shortage of mountains, forests, caves, and beaches to explore. If you are bored with land, the turquoise ocean beckons with all its snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.
This contributes to the feat of residents here having the longest lifespan in the world. A healthy diet contributes to the high number of Okinawans who live past 100. Furthermore, they are not wasting their time in nursing homes. Senior citizens continue to lead active lives, frequenting outdoor activities such as golf putting.
Okinawans are not only health conscious, but also socially responsible. All their activities are based on a conservation ethic. For example, the island is aggressive in its recycling and trash disposal efforts. All residents and foreigners must follow the rules, or they will be fined.
For expats who are looking for a place to follow a green lifestyle, Okinawa is the island to be. Locals prefer to line dry clothing, purchase fresh produce from farmers’ markets, and follow no-waste policies in their local industries. Traditional crafts such as pottery and glassmaking are supported by the local government.
Okinawa is a unique place in the world to witness the dynamic interplay of both Eastern and Western culture. The U.S. has maintained a presence on the island since the end of World War II, and as many as 50,000 Americans reside here at any one time.
One might assume that vast American presence “waters down” the foreignness of the island. On the contrary, it stimulates a unique hybrid way of life. Hundreds of children born here grow up bilingual, practice traditions from two distinct cultures, and develop an awareness of diversity from a young age.
A perfect example of this integration is a stir-fry dish called goya champuru. It combines a local vegetable called goya, or bitter melon and a U.S. import, SPAM. Strangely enough, this dish is so popular it shows up at every sports event, potluck, and picnic.
The Tug of War notwithstanding, Okinawa is a special place for involving foreigners in many thriving traditions. Yearly dragon-boat races encourage Okinawans and Americans to row to victory side by side. Karate studios or dojos bring together local and foreign children. And women’s organizations share cooking tips and traditional arts. Any willing expat can find many opportunities to feel like one of the locals.
It’s time to Do Life Right!
What are you waiting for? We hope that this inspires the spirit of adventure in you. If you want to add some spice to your routine, say goodbye to the city and hello to the island, let’s go!
Don’t forget to pack appropriately. You won’t need those stuffy business suits or constricting dress shoes. A comfy and stylish pair of flip flops will do.
Check out our flip flop reviews and recommendations here on Flip Flop Daily to find your perfect pair to take along on your island adventures.