A whole new world opens up when you begin to understand the Japanese language, culture and customs. From little things like ordering at a restaurant to extended travel around the country, get the most from your overseas assignment by learning about your host nation.

Programs


The Cultural Adaptation Program offers guided bus tours to off-base destinations with an emphasis on Japanese culture. On these trips, which usually are free or at minimal cost, guests are introduced to local venues and attractions such as museums, festivals, or areas of historical importance. Register in person at the Cultural Adaptation Program; Bldg. 411, 3rd floor at the Library. Tours are available to all SOFA status personnel and family members age five and older.

The friendly experts at Cultural Adaptation would like to introduce you to our local culture through the exposure to arts, reenacting ancient tradition and lessons. Try your hand at Japanese calligraphy or learn how to draw your sword like a samurai–you won’t regret it!

These classes, which usually are free or at minimal cost, are available to SOFA status personnel and their family members. Register in person at the Cultural Adaptation Program; Bldg. 411, 3rd floor at the Library.

Venture Out Tours are the first place to start when you are ready begin exploring off base. Local buses and trains can be confusing to foreigners, but after a tour guided by a Cultural Adaptation Specialist, you will know the basics in using public transportation on your own. Venture Out Tour destinations include restaurants and grocery stores and focus on acclimating you to dining and shopping off base.

These tours are open to all SOFA status personnel, to include children accompanied by a parent. Strollers, however, are not permitted due to limited room on the local city buses. Trip transportation costs vary by destination and additional spending money is highly recommended.

Venture Out Tours are the first place to start when you are ready begin exploring off base. Local buses and trains can be confusing to foreigners, but after a tour guided by a Cultural Adaptation Specialist, you will know the basics in using public transportation on your own. Venture Out Tour destinations include restaurants and grocery stores and focus on acclimating you to dining and shopping off base.

These tours are open to all SOFA status personnel, to include children accompanied by a parent. Strollers, however, are not permitted due to limited room on the local city buses. Trip transportation costs vary by destination and additional spending money is highly recommended.

CULTURE SHOCK


Moving to Japan and having a satisfying tour begins with a positive attitude, open mind and an understanding of the basics in Japanese customs and culture. Here are some of the more important things to know about your new host country.

Many Japanese rely on public transportation as their sole source of getting around. This is a venue where Japan’s reputation as a polite society is best illustrated. Etiquette while using public transportation is pretty simple: just be respectful of others. Don’t eat, drink, talk on your mobile device or have a loud conversation. Buses and trains have reserved seating for the elderly, pregnant, disabled or parents carrying young children. If you should see one of them without a seat, you should stand up and offer your seat.

This is less of a culture shock and more of a culture perk. Tipping is almost never expected in Japan, especially in restaurants.

Always carry extra Yen when going off-base. Some larger chains of restaurants and grocery stores accept credit card, but many do not. Personal checks are foreign to most Japanese and off-base rentals are paid via bank transactions or in cash. Utility bills are usually paid in cash at convenience stores or bank transactions. ATM cards issued at banks aboard MCAS Iwakuni can be used to withdraw Yen at 7-11 stores and off-base post office ATMs.

Although it is not illegal to operate a motor vehicle in Japan after drinking any alcoholic beverage, it is illegal to be over the legal limit. Off-base, a blood alcohol level of .03-.07 is “driving while impaired.”

Many of us are nearly half a world away from friends and family back in the states, and while the distance is vast, modern technology has made it pretty easy to keep in touch. Email, video conferencing and internet phones are great tools to maintain that contact, but figuring out what time it is back home can be tricky.

Japan is close to the International Date Line; roughly a day ahead of the U.S. Japan and does not observe Daylight Savings Time (DST). To figure out the time difference, add Japan’s UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) +9 to the desired time zone’s (adjusting for DST if needed) and count back that many hours from the current time.

The modern Japanese writing system uses three main scripts: Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana. Romanized Japanese, called rōmaji, is frequently used to spell out Japanese words with the English alphabet sounds. Visit Cultural Adaptation or Information Referral today to see about learning the Japanese alphabets.

Jan 1 (observed): New Year’s Day

Jan 9: Coming of Age Day “Seijin No Hi”
Cities and towns throughout the nation hold ceremonies to celebrate, congratulate, and encourage men and women who have reached the age of adulthood [20] during the year.

Feb 11: National Foundation Day “Kenkoku Kinen No Hi”
This holiday was established to nourish a love for the country and reflect on the establishment of the nation.

Mar 20: Spring Equinox “Shunbun No Hi”
Graves are visited and ancestors are worshipped throughout the week.

Apr 30 (observed): Shōwa Day “Showa No Hi”
Birthday of former Emperor Showa.

May 3*: Constitution Memorial Day “Kenpo Kinenbi”
A national holiday remembering the new constitution, which was put into effect after the war.

May 4*: Greenery Day “Midori No Hi”
National holiday celebrating and honoring nature and its blessings.

May 4*: Children’s Day “Kodomo No Hi”
National holiday in which to esteem the personalities of children and plan for their happiness.

Jul 16: Sea Day “Umi No Hi”
National holiday to celebrate and show gratitude for the blessings of the oceans and for hoping for the prosperity of the maritime nation that is Japan.

Sep 17: Respect for the Aged Day “Keiro No Hi”
Respect for the elderly and long life are celebrated on this national holiday.

Sep 22: Autumn Equinox “Shubun No Hi”
Graves are visited to honor one’s ancestors and remember the dead.

Oct 8: Sports Day “Taiiku No Hi”
Opening of the 1964 Olympic in Tokyo.

Nov 3: Culture Day “Bunka No Hi”
A day for promotion of culture and the love of freedom and peace.

Nov 23: Labor Thanksgiving Day “Kinro Kansha No Hi”
A national holiday for honoring labor.

Dec 24 (observed): Emperor’s Birthday “Tenno No Tanjobi”
The birthday of the current emperor is always a national holiday. If the emperor changes, the national holiday changes to the birthday date of the new emperor.

* GOLDEN WEEK

UPCOMING EVENTS


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20oct8:45 am- 4:30 pmCHESTNUT PICKING8:45 am - 4:30 pm Iwakuni Event Organized By: Cultural Adaptation Program Type:Marine & FamilyActivity:Cultural Adaptation

5nov8:30 am- 5:00 pmI-FESTA KINTAI FESTIVALSign-up starts October 5 at P&PD8:30 am - 5:00 pm Kintai Bridge Area Event Organized By: Cultural Adaptation Program Type:Marine & FamilyActivity:Cultural Adaptation

7nov8:30 am- 12:30 pmNEWLY OPENED GROCERY STORE VISITSign-up starts October 10 at Bldg. 411, Personal and Professional Development 8:30 am - 12:30 pm Iwakuni Event Organized By: Cultural Adaptation Program Type:Marine & FamilyActivity:Cultural Adaptation

10nov8:30 am- 4:30 pmMIKAWA MU VALLEY ADVENTURESign-up starts October 10 at P&PD8:30 am - 4:30 pm Iwakuni Event Organized By: Cultural Adaptation Program Type:Marine & FamilyActivity:Cultural Adaptation

17nov8:45 am- 3:30 pmMAKING POTTERYSign-up starts October 17 at P&PD8:45 am - 3:30 pm Iwakuni Event Organized By: Cultural Adaptation Program Type:Marine & FamilyActivity:Cultural Adaptation

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