I’m Okinawa Dork, the creator and only contributor on this website. I’m an American who first moved to Japan in 2009 with intentions of only staying in the country for a few months.
I first came to Japan after landing a job as a contractor for the U.S. Air Force in Tokyo. After about 6-months there, I was transferred to Okinawa for another 6-months or so.
Japan was very interesting to me. The reserved nature of the Japanese people seemed to fit my personality. And the social predictability in everyday interactions here made me feel very comfortable and more at ease. So, I decided to stay and learn more about Japan.
I studied Japanese full-time at a Japanese language school for a few months. I then landed I landed a job as an ALT for a public Junior High School.
Though I lived in Japan for over a year at this point, transitioning from a U.S. military contractor to a resident of Japan was an unexpected culture shock.
I was cut off from the familiar American resources on base (shoe sizes that fit me and a driver’s license to just name a few). I was also forced to learn what exactly it took to get a work visa and become a resident of Japan. I enrolled in the Japanese health care system and was paying tax to Japan.
I also saw the big contrast between life on mainland Japan and Okinawa. It was much harder to meet fellow foreigners and feelings of isolation slowly began to build.
After a couple of years in mainland Japan, I decided to return to Okinawa and got a job as a contractor again.
Though my experience in mainland Japan was generally positive. I realized Okinawa was probably a better fit. Though I love Japanese culture, staying connected to the American roots I’ve found is critical to staying and feeling balanced. With the number of Americans in Okinawa, it’s easier to find that connection here.
I returned back to the U.S. to attend graduate school and in 2018, I returned back to Okinawa as a military contractor and I’ve been here since.
I decided to create this site to share all of these experiences. The positive and the challenging, and what I’ve learned from it all, in hopes that it will make others’ transition and stay in Japan a little easier.
My name is Okinawa Dork, because I’m just that. I live in Okinawa. Write mostly about Okinawa. And I’m a little dorky about it as I love to get things right and research questions until there’s little left to research.