I’ve never had a burning desire to be stationed in the D. C. area. It’s expensive, and the traffic intimidates me. I’m just not a big city girl.
But this time of year makes me envious of my friends who do call D.C. their home for one simple reason: the cherry blossoms. And why do I love cherry blossoms so much? Because they remind me of Sasebo, Japan and the three years at my favorite duty station.
If someone had told me when I first started out as a MilSpouse that I would one day live in Japan, I might have chuckled with a “yeah right” and gone about my merry way in sunny Florida. If someone had told me I would not only live in Japan, but I would also never want to leave, I would suggest they lay off the sake.
But sure enough, I did live in Japan. And sure enough, I didn’t want to leave.
Sasebo was more than a duty station for me. It was a complete lifestyle change. I often found myself taking walks with my toddler in his jogging stroller and sitting at a park people-watching. I became more observant, more willing to slow down and smell the proverbial roses. The Japanese culture fascinated me, and I made every attempt at learning proper etiquette, such as removing shoes before entering a house and greeting people by bowing.
We briefly lived “out in town” in a Japanese house before moving into base housing. We traveled and visited different cities within Japan, as well as other countries like Korea and Thailand. I drove a Daihatsu Naked. I was a regular at a local onsen or hot springs/spa. I shopped at the 100 Yen Store (yes, that’s the dollar store). We visited castles and temples and shrines. We heard Mickey Mouse sing in Japanese at Tokyo Disney. We cheered at a professional baseball game. I became a pro at using squatter toilets, even when I was 9 months pregnant. And of course, I knew the location of all the most beautiful cherry blossoms in the city and closely monitored the cherry blossom forecasts every year.
I took it all in.
For a gal who isn’t a fan of big city life, Sasebo was perfect for learning both a foreign culture as well as the military culture. Even though my husband had been in the military for 3 years prior to our PCS to Japan, I still felt clueless. But because the Navy base in Sasebo is so small, I couldn’t help but fall into a circle of MilSpouse friends I still hold near and dear to my heart. Those women taught me everything I know now about military life and then some.
Just writing this brings me back to Japan and conjures up so many happy memories that I may have to break out some photo albums and continue this trip down memory lane. And when my friends start sharing pictures on Facebook of the beautiful cherry blossoms in the next couple of weeks, whether they live in Japan or D.C., I will think of my time in Sasebo and thank the military for allowing me to live there.
What is your favorite duty station? Why is it so awesome?