As I was writing this post over the weekend the terrible accident aboard the USS Fitzgerald happened in which seven sailors lost their lives. Although I am very new to the Yokosuka community I can say with certainty that this is a tight knit place and the loss has been felt by everyone here. Please keep them, and their loved ones, in your thoughts.
Have you ever heard that everything in Japan is smaller? Cars, streets, houses… well that rumor is true. This was first made very obvious to me our first night in Japan when we got to our hotel. We had been awake for so long by the time we landed in Yokota, and then we had to take a two hour bus ride to Yokosuka. I was so tired and spent the whole bus ride dreaming of walking into our hotel room and laying down on a big fluffy hotel bed and falling fast asleep. Well, we finally walked into our hotel room only to discover that it was probably the smallest room we had ever seen at a hotel and the big fluffy bed was actually a small double sized bed with so little space around it that you had to walk sideways. There was absolutely no room for our ten suitcases and us.
I fully realize that this is a first world problem (poor me, my hotel room is too small), but when you have so much stuff with you it felt like a big problem at the time. Numerous scenarios flashed through my brain of us spending weeks in this tiny room while we waited for housing, madly trying to search for things we needed in our suitcases while we watched the one English channel available on the television and tried to figure out how to use the toilet. However, a shower and a bowl (okay, two) of ramen later and I had somewhat regained my sense of adventure and composure, somewhat.
Fortunately, the next day we were able to check into the Navy Lodge on the base which had a much larger room for us and our stuff, and I knew how to work the toilet, another bonus! If you are PCSing to Yokosuka and the Navy Lodge website says that they are sold out (which it did repeatedly for us), do your best to call them or just show up when you get here to see if they have last minute availability. The hotel caters to people PCSing with larger rooms, closets, and kitchenettes… it is really nice those first few crazy days. Another great thing about the Navy Lodge is that it is located right next to the housing office, so convenient.
When you get stationed in Yokosuka you do not get to choose whether you live on or off base. If there is room for you on base then you have to take it. It was actually kind of nice not having to think too much about housing ahead of our move. That is usually one of the things that stresses me out the most before we PCS. Finding a new house every one to three years, and one that you will be happy in, is kind of daunting. However, I had loved each of our previous homes and was nervous that I wouldn’t love our home in Japan as much since I had less control in choosing it.
We checked into housing on our second full day in Japan first thing in the morning. After filling out a few forms, we were given a list of houses on the main base, Yokosuka, and a housing base about 20 minutes away, Ikego. If you are moving here you probably read (like I did) that there is a third housing base near Yokohama. Just FYI that this is no longer an option for DOD families, all of the housing is now in Yokosuka or Ikego. Because we have a dog, there were only three places total that we could have lived. So we at least knew that we would be on base, and not off. Now it was just a matter of choosing which one to live in, we were given one day to decide.
One of the options was on the other base, Ikego, and since we knew we did not want to live 20 minutes away, we eliminated that right away. Our other two options were on the Yokosuka base – one apartment and one townhouse. We were pretty sure we wanted the townhouse since that would be easier for us taking our dog out and to have a bit more space, but we walked over and looked at the apartment anyway. We ultimately went with…
So, there is really no getting around it… the military housing in Yokosuka is… kind of ugly on the outside. All of the townhouses look exactly the same and the apartment buildings all match them in style and color. They feel very Cold War Era. And considering how much it rains here and how humid it is, the grass looks surprisingly sad.
However, many people find ways to dress their space up and make it their own. You are allowed to put potted plants out and anything else that will personalize your space more. We took this place without seeing the inside so I was not sure what to expect, but the next day we got to go in and I was pleasantly surprised.
Since our furniture is not arriving from the US for quite a while the Navy gave us some loaner furniture to use in the meantime. I cannot wait to start decorating this place and putting my own touch on it. My concerns about liking my new house in Japan before we moved here were unfounded, I am already in love!