AF News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 Road Tax Collection Schedule

***2016 UPDATE HERE***

It is that time of the year I guess to pay your road tax! This is an annual requirement and the payment timeframe is April 1st through May 31st. You can pay at your car insurance providers’ offices or at the local Japanese offices that handle such things. Or you can wait for all the relevant officials to come to the military base close to you and get everything done in one shot. However, I heard Kadena’s Road tax days are complete chaos and the lines are long, so I am going to do everything on my own. From what I found out, I will just go to my car insurance provider’s office at the USO on Kadena, pay the tax, then take everything to Foster to get the sticker. I heard there will be a wait for the sticker at Foster, but you will be waiting in your car, not standing around for hours like you would be during Kadena’s Road tax days. I will post an update to this process once I do it next week.

Also, I wanted to point out something about the road tax you have to pay, that I think most island newbie’s won’t know about when they buy their cars. You can tell about how much your annual road tax will be by seeing what plate is on the car. Reference the road tax hand-out below to find how much tax is due, by plate number. For example, I have a 500 and a 300 (under 4500cc) plated cars, so my total cost will be ¥26500 or about $265! If you have two 300 plated cars, you can see it is now starting to get expensive. So I put this information out for those families that are on a limited income, and didn’t know about the road tax fee structures when they first bought their cars. This can be quite financial shock to some and they may be wishing they knew this before. Combine the annual road taxes, your annual car insurance cost, the bi-annual JCI cost, and it is readily apparent that it is really expensive to drive here in Japan. Heaven forbid you took the 18 month financing option for your car on top of all that too! I suspect the lemon lot gets a little fuller after the road tax season, especially when families consider the costs involved, and find it isn’t worth it driving the bigger and/or the “fast and furious” type cars they may have.

2014 Road Tax Collection Schedule

Sports Massage/Therapy - CHRIST

I wanted to recommend this sports massage place that I have been going to as of late. My back tends to get out of wack every once in awhile, which is mostly due to extremely tight muscles on one side of my body. Over time this gets me all wound up and cranky, so I found these guys that will evaluate my condition and get to work on the muscles that need stretching/massaging. They are not expensive in my opinion, as I usually pay around $22-32, depending on what needs to be done. Each of my sessions are around 30-40 minutes and they got all the high tech stuff to work on your muscles as well.

They are really easy to get too, just go out Kadena Gate 3, turn left and go all the way down to the T-intersection (Rotary plaza), and then turn right. Go down a little bit and make a U-turn at the first light to get to their front parking lot. Their place is pretty easy to spot, look for CHRIST. Yes, an odd name for a massage place for sure, but it is an acronym. I have the Google map links below.

Google Maps

Address:   50-3 Kadena, Kadena-chō, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa-ken

I also have a pic of the membership card they can give you, which has their phone number and hours on it. It doesn’t cost anything, but it saves you the time of filling out any paperwork if you visit again. This is important, because their English is limited, but that is what Google Translate is for!

CHRIST Massage

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Okinawa Zoo & Wonder Museum

Are you looking for a good place to kill at least a half-day with your youngsters? Then the Okinawa Zoo & Museum is where you want to go! It is literally about 10 minutes (depending on traffic), out Gate 2 from Kadena AB. This place is totally geared for children, with some kid rides, wide open areas for them to run around, and plenty of kid friendly food. Now that the weather is starting to get nice, we decided to check it out one afternoon, and we felt like it was time well spent, even our 1yr enjoyed it. She actually enjoyed it so much I think, she was out like a light before we even got to close to Gate 2 back on Kadena AB!

Well here are some of the practical stuff…the place is more a less stroller friendly, however I seriously suggest you bring one regardless. There is no place you can’t get to with a stroller, and they do have elevators strategically placed to get by stair access points. I do want to note that this place is actually pretty big, with plenty of HILLS to transverse throughout the park. You will get a pretty good workout carting your kids around, that is for sure! Admission is cheap and much of the food and trinkets are cheap as well. There are plenty of activities that are geared for kids, like a petting zoo, fish feeding areas, and just plain wide-open spaces for them to run around in circles. Even though this time of the year is probably just the beginning of the visiting season for this place, there were a lot of kids there, so I can only imagine it will get more busy from here on out. I did notice they had stations for kids throughout the park, which looked like they had fun games and information for them, but it was all in Japanese though.

As far as the zoo goes, I think all the animal cages have the English names of the animals on them, but everything else will be in Japanese. Like most other “zoos” that we have visited here on the island, the animal cages are not 5-star by any means, but they looked clean and give good vantage points to see most of the animals. We didn't go by the museum, since we figured our 1yr wouldn't get much out of it anyways.

Well getting there is super easy, you can Google “Okinawa zoo” and Google maps should get you there. I also grabbed the English handouts, which has the address and the pricing on it for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Okinawa Zoo & Museum English Flier 

Okinawa Zoo & Museum English Map 
Okinawa Zoo & Museum Japanese