Survive and Thrive: Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan
So you just received orders to Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan? Well get excited because you are about to embark on a very unique adventure! You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed about packing up and relocating all the way to the Land of the Rising Sun, but have no fear—here are a few tips to help ease the transition into your new life:
Embrace the base! NAF Atsugi might be a smaller base than you are used to seeing…there aren't even any stoplights! This means that you won't have many shopping or eating options on the base itself, but everything is within walking or biking distance. In fact, many residents don't even own a car because the bus/train station is also a short walk away. This also means that the base provides a small town feel which makes for a tightknit community.
Enjoy the scenery! The base might be a bit small, but it offers views that you can't get on any other base in the world! You can easily see Mt. Fuji from your window or backyard, which makes for some very picturesque afternoons. And during the spring you will experience the breathtaking beauty of Cherry Blossom (Sakura) season. The entire base turns pink and delivers a very peaceful setting for a Hanami (Cherry Blossom viewing/picnic). But you'll have to move quickly because sadly, the season only lasts for about two weeks.
See the sights! NAF Atsugi is a short distance away from Tokyo, Yokohama, Kamakura, and many other historical areas. You'll want to get familiar with the train system, grab some yen, and spend the weekends exploring some pretty fascinating landmarks. You can even book weekend group tours through the MWR if you don't want to fly solo!
Appreciate the food! Living in a foreign country provides the opportunity to not only experience new sights, but to also experience some interesting cuisine! Whether it's trying one of the several Ramen noodle spots, hitting up a Sushi spot, or even trying octopus — your taste buds will not be disappointed! And tipping is considered rude in Japan, so don't worry about calculating your bill at the end of every meal.
Visit the parks! The neighborhood parks in Japan are nothing like anything you've ever seen. These parks are huge and include some type of obstacle course, beautiful nature walks, tall rollercoaster slides, and even splash pads. They aren't just for kids! Adults will enjoy them just as much (or maybe more) than the kids. And if your group gets thirsty along the way, there is literally a vending machine on every corner of Japan that dispenses both cold and hot drinks!
Get involved! When you're not venturing out around town, you'll want to find some things to keep you interested on the base. NAF Atsugi offers several opportunities to get involved through the Fleet and Family Support Center, MWR, and the library. There are many options for cultural/language classes, group activities, volunteering, and even teaching English! Most events and groups are communicated through Facebook so it is recommended to create an account in order to stay in the loop of the base activities.
And the best part about living at NAF Atsugi? All of the wonderful connections you will make! Since the base is small, you will be sure to make some lasting friendships through common interests or just the proximity of living so close to one another. But you'll also have opportunities to connect with the locals! Everyone is super friendly and will help point you in the right direction if you happen to get lost (which you will). So stay open-minded and embrace your time in Japan because it will be over before you know it.
Have you ever been stationed at NAF Atsugi? What would you tell someone who's never been?
Posted by Amanda Schwenk, NMFA Volunteer and military spouse