an okinawan week in 14 random photos

I am not on Instagram.

I hope to never be.

I simply have no more room in my brain for another social media outlet.

But, if I were on Instagram, these are some photos from the past week that I’d share.

1. Beautiful veggies.

In my post 6 tips for feeding picky plant-based eaters, I neglected to mention how important presentation is. Kids get excited to eat carrots when they look like this. Trust me. My kids gobbled this salad up.

I used this spiralizer (affiliate link) to cut the carrots oh so pretty-like.



2. Docile sharks.

We went to one of the most beautiful places on earth–the Okinawa Aquarium, which is located on the tip of one of the island’s peninsulas.

We saw some amazing sea creatures, the coolest of which were the whale sharks. There was one mama shark that just had babies & it was so cute to see the babies huddled underneath her & they would swim everywhere she went.


3. Oh yes, now I finally know how to sit on a toilet.

There are a lot of, what I deem funny signs around the island. This one in particular had me puzzled.

I wonder if people sitting on a Western toilet incorrectly (there are also Japanese style toilets which are in-ground) has been so much of a problem that they have seen fit to post these as a public service.

Either way, now I finally know the proper way to sit.



4. Thank you, Japan. You *get* kids.

One thing I love about it here is how “kid friendly” things are. The Japanese seem to understand that when going to the bathroom & you have a 2 year old in tow, you’ll want to strap said 2 year in old in a seat for a few minutes while you do your business.

Not only that, but everyone, I mean everyone (not just older folks) loves kids.

Whenever we go out, people interact & play with my kids or say things like “Kawaii des” (He/she is cute). I have been pleasantly surprised at how patient & kind the natives are when they see my hooligans running around the vegetable stand (where we get our produce), or other public places.



5. Strong houses.

Houses here are built to withstand 100+ mph winds. All the houses here are built up, not out, & have several levels. Our house has four levels, for example, & I go up & down stairs all throughout the day.

(And look at how tiny those cars are! All cars here, look like this.)



6. Dessert of grape.

On Labor Day we went to Japanese Dennys-like restaurant (Japanese diner food).

It was much healthier than what you’d find in an American diner. We ordered an avocado, tomato & steak salad (for Joseph); steamed edamame, rice, sauteed spinach (for me); & veggie pizza (with corn as the main topping, interestingly enough) for the kids.

They eat waay, way less sugar here & their desserts are much less sweet.

Case in point: they consider a cup of grapes, dessert.



7. Lots of walking is good for ya.

This photo was taken in downtown Okinawa. The drummer man on the sign is a traditional Okinawan drummer. Lots of people drive, but a lot of people also walk & bike.



8. Don’t drink that.

The Japanese have lots of rituals & customs related to cleanliness that takes personal hygiene to whole new level.

This is one of them–a fountain for drinking, & another fountain for, yes, gargling.




9. Maybe we could learn something from this?

This is a package of trail mix I bought–raw almonds, walnuts, raisins, cashews, & craisins. It was only 135 calories for the WHOLE bag (the bag was only 25 g).

Everything is portioned about 1/3 to 1/2 the sizes you’d find in the states. I see a strong correlation between their dainty portion sizes & the fact that to see an obese, or even overweight person here is more rare than not.



10. Every date is like a honeymoon.

When you live in sub-tropical paradise, all dates are like this. Just strolling a local beach at sunset.

(Still madly in love after 11 years.)



11. Huh?

I can only wonder what the role of this business is. (Mail order spouses? A wedding planner?)

A lot of businesses with romaji signs (signs in English) are um, strangely translated. Here are just a few that come to mind–Happy Hands (a massage therapy business), Enjoy Diving (a scuba shop), Spread Sound (an audio device shop), & Happy Health Community Center (a senior center). It’s not that they don’t make sense per-se, it’s just that English speakers would use other words to say the same thing.



12. I must be in another world.

Space is sparce here (say that 3 x’s fast).

Hence these very tall parking structures that are a little eerie. The way it works is that the structure has two openings each manned by a parking structure employee.

From what I can tell, you get out of the car they drive it in, it goes up the elevator, they give you a number, & they park it for you. These structures are so compact I can only imagine that the cars are squeezed in as tightly as possible.

I totally respect the utilitarian aspect of it all, but it does make me feel claustrophic just walking past these things.



13. A park by the beach is much better than a yard.

So this park is a few minute walk from our house.

The other day we played baseball, threw around the frisbee, kicked the soccer ball around, & oh yes, enjoyed the sunset on the ocean.

I thought I’d be sad not to have a yard. But I am enjoying the extra hours in the week of NOT having to mow & weed (jobs I happily doled out to the boys anyway) & love that we can visit a much bigger space than any yard could ever be.



14. Adjusting the palate.

I should say, adjusting my groceries.

I’m used to buying whatever I want, whenever I want, at a fairly decent price. There are plenty of things that I can’t even get here (cauliflower, chard, jicama), & lots of things that are just so darn expensive we don’t even dare buy (watermelon is about $15 a melon & potatoes are pretty steep too).

But there’s plenty of other good stuff at reasonable prices. RICE! (I can see now why much of the world lives on rice–it just makes sense & it does the job.) Tomatoes, peppers, onions, bananas, radish sprouts, bean sprouts, tofu (& it’s always so fresh!), & lots of other veggies that I’m not even sure the name of, are proving to be our fresh & frugal staples here.

7 easy ways to save on groceries every month {plus a bonus tip!}

Here’s a recent simple lunch–just gave it a few splashes of some seasoned rice vinegar for flavor.



Other bring joy posts about Okinawa:


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Discovering the Word of Wisdom film

Did you hear?

My dear friend Jane Birch has produced an excellent short film (just 12 minutes) on plant based diets & the Word of Wisdom (for non-Mormon friends, this is our code of health).

Watch here, & if you like it, please share with others & help spread the word! xo



  1. Lfwfv
    on September 12, 2015 at 12:53 am said:

    Awesome! Looks so fun 🙂

  2. Sara Grant
    on September 11, 2015 at 11:30 pm said:

    I was actually looking for you on Instagram! But I totally get why you’re not. Your adventures in Okinawa sound awesome.

  3. Joya Towne
    on September 11, 2015 at 8:11 pm said:

    It sounds like you all are adapting very well! I’m so glad things are falling into place for you!!

  4. Katie
    on September 11, 2015 at 7:23 pm said:

    Loved this! You are taking everything in stride, I so admire that 🙂

  5. Julia
    on September 11, 2015 at 1:06 pm said:

    I kind of wish you were on instagram, you would be fun to follow! 🙂 But I understand how “one more social media thing” is a pain. Fun updates!

  6. Melissa
    on September 11, 2015 at 10:50 am said:

    What a fun post! Love all the pictures and detail. Still wondering what the “gargle” water is that you should not drink it.