Posted on Nov 28, 2020
CPL Supply Specialist (S4)
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I’ve been deployed to Korea and I enjoyed some of it. But I also heard about Japan. I’m curious to know which of the two is the better one and why.
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LTC Board Of Directors Chairman
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It really depends on your MOS, personal and professional desires.

Japan is expensive, it’s a somewhat closed (but amiable) culture to foreigners, has mostly higher HQs organizations and is rank heavy. Lovely country, interesting experience and feels like your a tourist when there.

Korea-cheaper, more open than Japan, more tactical units, good travel in country, lots more American presence, could be more field time which could stymie your travel aspirations.

Both are great jumping off points to travel to China, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia. Both can give you an island fever per se as a Soldier. And both offer a unique experience.

As a CPL I would suggest Korea, for promotion potential, and MOS experience. But Okinawa or Mainland can provide some benefits in Japan if that is your cup of tea.
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Lt Col John (Jack) Christensen
Lt Col John (Jack) Christensen
1 mo
Great comments.
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Maj John Bell
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Edited 1 mo ago
What is true for me is not necessarily true for you. I really liked Okinawa and Korea. Both offered lots of opportunity to "leave America Behind." And enjoy a slower culture and pace. I spent two years in Tokyo one day, (yes I really meant two years in one day. I didn't like being in Tokyo). Overseas, I spent almost none of my off-duty time in "the ville."

I don't like big modern cities no matter where they are. I've been to London, Paris, Athens, Munich, Nairobi, Mexico City, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Manila. As far as I am concerned, If you can see 10 cars moving, it is God's way of saying "go somewhere else." I rather sit in the piazza of a small town with less than 1000 population eating cheese, good bread, and a fruit plate.
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Maj John Bell
Maj John Bell
1 mo
CWO3 (Join to see) - The goats keep telling jokes that go over my head and they are very condescending so the conversations are usually short and strictly business. I usually talk more with the chickens and turkeys.
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SSgt Thomas L.
SSgt Thomas L.
1 mo
Maj John Bell - They "learn" English in school, but it's hardly ever from a fluent speaker, let alone a native speaker. It's true that your average Japanese person speaks more English than your average American speaks Japanese, but don't expect them to know more than a few words... specially older people.
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Maj John Bell
Maj John Bell
1 mo
SSgt Thomas L. - You experiences don't match up with my experiences. I'm sure yours are valid, but well away from the base I still found that most of the people between 10 and 30 were conversational. Those people would be 45-65 now.
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SSgt Thomas L.
SSgt Thomas L.
1 mo
Maj John Bell - TBH my experience is definitely colored by the fact that my 3 older kids went to Japanese schools for 9 years and speak with native/bilingual proficiency. I'm sure that disincentivized the locals we encountered from attempting to speak to us in English.
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SFC Senior Brigade Career Counselor
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There are two areas of Japan that are complete opposites. Okinawa has the largest contingent of Army personnel and is a tropical island with a VERY slow pace of life. The speed limit is 35 kmph in most areas. The people are friendly, the weather is warm, the cost of living is very low. It's the poorest prefecture in Japan and the average income is around $1000 a month. Mainland or Honshu is the part most of us think of. There's only one Army base there, Camp Zama, and it's mostly SATCOM and MI. You wouldn't get stationed there, but you could be stationed at one of the smaller Army air fields around there. It's a lot more built up, traffic is insane and people are a bit more formal and standoffish but extremely polite. A whole lot more city and a very extensive rail network.
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MAJ Armored Combat Command Commander
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Here is an example of simplicity and complexity created by a Japanese drum master. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veTnLnkW-oY&list=PLGc4mbVb2i0rHLXK2t8iqXFTNAyz9ngIe&index=96&t=53s
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SFC Senior Brigade Career Counselor
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MAJ (Join to see) the difference between Okinawa and Honshu are really incredible, and it helps to understand that the Okinawans and the mainland Japanese are ethnically different and have completely different cultures. The drum video you posted is of the Okinawan drum culture, which has drum teams in every community and drum competitions. The re really incredible to watch.

I really loved Okinawa when I live there. I made sure to visit mainland in Tokyo area a few times as well. It's a wonderful experience but I felt more at home in Okinawa, and Tokyo felt too busy for me to stay in for long.

I love the Anthony Bourdain episode of Okinawa, and a very talented friend of mine actually filmed that episode.
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MAJ Armored Combat Command Commander
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SFC (Join to see) - Yeah Tokyo is the pits due to the population density. I would go bat shit crazy if I had to live in Tokyo. My adoptive father was a tall blond blue eyed Swedish American who was a DOD teach in Japan in the 1960. He read and spoke Japanese fluently and told me he was in a few Japanese war movies, and he was always the evil American COL who dies at the end.

One of my favorite Anthony Bourdain episodes was shot in Laos. Starting at the 37:37 mark I consider what they did brilliant by incorporating music with a cacophony of sounds and a myriad of scenes. The music at the very end is kind of haunting. It shows Mr. Bourdain standing on the river bank watching lights float down the river at night. There is a lot of symbolism at the end. Your friend must be talented and a hard worker. Mr. Bourdain was always on the go. Did he participate in the Laos episode?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sks2ilFRX1I
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