top of page

The Difference Between Okinawa and the Mainland


I know Okinawa has their own food such as ちゃんぷる(chanpuru) 、沖縄そば(Okinawan soba)、ハブ酒(Habu-she) and so on. But I expected these to be similar taste to mainland food since Okinawa is part of Japan now. I saw lots of chain Japanese restaurants like 大戸屋(Otoya), ココス(cocos), はま寿司 (Hama-sushi) and many other ones that mainland has. I made some video about these Japanese restaurants!

We wanted to explore local food and see if we like…

The first food we have ever ate in Okinawa was 弁当(bento).

Because we were living next to this bento shop. The very first impression was “BIG”. Yes, the quantity of food in Okinawa is a lot. Then I noticed that they do not really look nice… 😁

I will show you some examples.

Okinawan bento:

Mainland bento:

In mainland, people believe that looks is very important in food. If it’s not good then customer won’t buy. However, it seems like Okinawan people do not really care about it as long as it’s edible.

Honestly, food in Okinawa was not really our favorite.. We tried several times in different places because we do not want to decide our opinions just for the first try. If you go to a restaurant in a tourist area, the taste might be different. The only things I thought was good was Okinawan snacks such as ちんすこう(chinsuko), サーターアンダーギー( sata-andagi) and じゅーしー(jushi); Okinawan fried rice. Those were my favorite that I was eating a lot !


Many people believe Okinawan people are nice and laid back!I would say yes but not people who live in Naha.

When we came to Okinawa, we were living in a city close to Naha. This place was more countryside than Tokyo but my imagination for Okinawa was different than this town. There are more buildings, roads and busy. As for the people there, there are no difference between mainland. Neighbors do not talk, complain if someone makes some noice even during the day, people being scared just because we had a smaller weimaraner and always making sure if she is on a leash…. I still felt “Japanese social pressure”.

One of my student told me a story about the difference between people in Naha and the one in a countryside area. She went to Naha for shopping by herself and wanted to ask someone for a direction because she was not familiar with Naha area. She expected people to answer her questions but people were cold and ignoring her. She said she was very shocked by the difference.

The very shocking memory was that when we were walking there, there was an old Japanese man and he randomly said “GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY” to my boyfriend because he is an American. It was very shocking although we know Japan is a really racist country but hoped Okinawa would be different.

We were right. One day, we rented a car and went to the north part of Okinawa. (Yes, we did not have a car for a year….!!! )

This was the exact place we were imagining. We felt in love this place quickly and decided to move this area.

We did !! I noticed that lots of militaries are there, people are more laid back, there are more nature and so on. Our neighbors were all nice and sometimes we had a small talk. Even random kids started to talk with us there. I was really shocked because in mainland, we are taught not talk to strangers and if a person started to talk to you, you should ignore or run away.

I also noticed that lots of people around this area speak English. I think these military bases are the big influence.

It really depends on where you are in Okinawa. If you are looking for laid back Okinawan people or Okinawan views, I would recommend going to the north part!


In Japan, each prefecture has a unique dialect. It seems like Okinawan language is a totally different from Japanese that mainland people speak, however originally Okinawa language came from Japanese.

I am from mainland but I seriously did not understand their dialect while I was living there. But lots of people know the Japanese mainlander use so you can have a conversation with them.

My favorite Okinawan language is "~しましょうね” (shimashou-ne) It literally means "Let's do ~" This expression sounds kinder than regular Japanese language, which is "~ます”(shimasu) meaning " I will do" or " we will do"


In general, Japanese people are rich compared to other countries. Everyone has a good car, nice cloths, brand products and etc..

I thought Okinawa would be the same.

Well, I was wrong. People do not wear a fancy cloth, so many shitty cars, wage is low while the things are expensive, working at a Macdonald’s with age of 70, 3 generations living together and so on.I researched about the poverty in Okinawa and found out that Okinawa is the poorest prefecture in Japan by far.

We as Japanese people always think of Okinawa as a paradise place and do not pay attention to other facts.

But I liked to be this way. ( Please don’t get me wrong. I do not wish people to suffer from poverty)

Okinawan people know what is being poor and how difficult to survive so they do not judge you based on things you are wearing or own. They also help you if you are in trouble. However in mainland, you always have to dress up perfectly otherwise they will judge you and you will feel being watched. We are also taught not to lend money to anyone even if they are best friends and they are in trouble.

I was tired of this strict social pressure in mainland. When I came to Okinawa, I really loved how people understand your life situation and I learned that poor people have stronger feelings of love and real friendship.

There are just the small parts and there are so many things that I discovered in Okinawa that I cannot write everything!

Hope you enjoy this blog, thank you !












最初に沖縄に来た時、私たちは那覇の近くに住んでいました。そこの町は、東京よりは田舎ではあるものの思い描いていた沖縄の風景とは少し違いました。建物がもっとたくさんあり、忙しいところでした。そこの町の人々は、内地の人とそれほど違いはありませんでした。近所同士はあまり話をせず、昼間でも物音がするとすぐに管理会社へ報告、私たちの犬(ワイマラナー)を見て、怖がりリードをきちんとつけているか確認.... 「日本社会のプレッシャー」をここでも感じました。






















bottom of page