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"Okinawa City Living Guide" receives great reviews

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-06-06

Okinawa city has just published a new updated guide for residents living within their district. The booklet, titled "The Okinawa City Living Guide", was originally published in order to aid foreign residents living in Okinawa City. It is updated every three years, and the new guide covers everything from mailing a letter, to emergency procedures during a natural disaster. Lisa Lawn, who works at the City Hall as the Coordinator of International Relations, supervised the project. Her work will enable the nine hundred and sixty foreign residents of Okinawa City, representing twenty five different countries, to have a better understanding of the different services available to them, and to also culturally enrich their lives while living in Okinawa City.

For many foreigners living in Okinawa, numerous daily tasks can become a problem, mostly due to language difficulties. Receiving utility bills and other important notices in the mail is one of the many things that foreign residents usually have a problem understanding. The booklet gives illustrated examples of the different types of bills frequently received, and has detailed explanations that help you figure out what all the numbers and written information actually mean. There are also detailed instructions for house and apartment renters on where to go and how to apply for utilities. There is even a page that explains Okinawa City's trash disposal procedures for residents. "I remember when I first came to Japan, they would not take my garbage away. I had no idea that you were suppose to separate the garbage," said Lawn about her own personal experiences as a foreigner living in Japan.

Another piece of helpful information the guide provides is the explanation of different banking services. Pictures of kanji that appear on the cash machine screens, along with their meanings, are all explained in the guide, and help to make a trip to the bank much easier. Other important requirements that must be fulfilled by all foreign residents, such as applying for your Alien Registration Card and paying taxes, are also explained. You can find information on transportation, leisure activities, and other services that will help to make your life much more pleasant, and there are also important descriptions that can help you get through an unforeseen emergency.

The section on emergencies lists important phone numbers for hospitals, ambulances, and the police. There are useful basic Japanese phrases to help you call an ambulance, and also describe certain symptoms. Fire, earthquake, and typhoon tips provide valuable life-saving information, and give you some helpful reminders on how to stay prepared for such a disaster.

The booklet is very easy to use, and can be an important reference material even for long-term foreign residents, while foreigners just arriving to Okinawa will find it to be a very valuable tool to help them get aquatinted with Okinawa City.

Lawn, who is a native of Scarborough England, came to Okinawa in September of last year. She spent a year and a half in mainland Japan as an English teacher, before returning to England to attend Sheffield University. Lawn's fondness for Japan and its culture prompted her to study Japanese for four years, where upon graduation she applied for the Coordinator of International Relations position. "I really enjoy Japanese, especially Kanji. I decided to study Japanese, because I really wanted to apply for the C.I.R. job. I had known about it before from a friend" remarked Lawn. She not only received the job, but she also was sent to Okinawa for the position, which she had requested. "I love Okinawa, especially the weather. I really like the international atmosphere here. I plan on staying for another two years, and then I hope to get another job where I can use my Japanese," said Lawn. She is also an active member of the Okinawa International Association, where she is involved in a variety of activities.

The "Okinawa City Living Guide" is available at the City Hall for all foreign residents that are officially registered. The number of copies is limited, so the City is asking that only those eligible come to receive the booklet. Call (098)939-1212 for more information.

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