Anyway, I was actually there for work purposes since I somehow managed to score a sweet TDY to help out at the Consulate there. It was really cool to experience such an incredibly different environment - small Consulate vs. large Embassy. I got to do a little of everything, and I really felt like my presence made a difference, which I guess is to be expected in a post with just a handful of officers. Every one is needed! I also got to attend a citizenship ceremony**, which is one of the coolest things I've ever witnessed. As Consular officers we see people at the start of their journey towards citizenship. We see them through the craziness that is American immigration law and get them to the point where they can legally enter the U.S. as intending immigrants, but that's pretty much where our role ends. So it was super cool to see the swearing in of some 30+ new American citizens.*** Bonus - the key note speaker was a Marine Corps O-4 Fil-Am who achieved his citizenship through the military. Then they played "Proud to be an American" (natch), and I was pretty much a sloppy mess. God, I love that patriotic shit.
So after my week of work, Husband flew out and we made a long weekend of it by pretty much seeing everything the island of Okinawa has to offer, and then spending an entire paycheck at the BX (one of the benefits of still being part of the military!). The weather cooperated for the most part, and we managed to avoid getting rained on even during the periods of occasional downpour.
The Ocean Expo Park and Aquarium is interesting, and the grounds are lovely, but we thought it was overpriced considering the rest of the island is pretty cheap (compared with mainland Japan, that is). Plus, the main draw of the aquarium are their pair of whale sharks and, well, we've already seen those up close and personal. :)
My favorite part of our visit? The various off-the-beaten-path castles. What can I say? It's in the genes. Stuff that hasn't been restored yet is always more interesting to me.
We also just generally enjoyed the food and the ambiance (and the vending machines!) :)
*We're booked through at least 2016, so the point is moot for now.
**Where I was one of the guests of honor! No, seriously!! They even said my name and made me make a little wave.
**Plus, that oath they take? It is no fucking joke! All citizens should have to take that oath when they hit 18, IMHO.