Sakura Mentor

Moving to Okinawa from Osaka for my PhD
Johannes Nicolaus Wibisana Updated in June 2023

It can be intimidating to move from a busy city like Osaka to a location like Okinawa, but it can also be a chance to embark on new adventures. I relocated to Okinawa for my PhD, in which the campus is located in the resort area of Onna village which is less connected in terms of public transportation. Although I was hesitant at first, I soon learned there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages of living in the countryside.

The ease of getting to the beach is one of the best aspects about living in Okinawa. Some of the most stunning beaches in Japan can be found in Okinawa, especially in Onna village, which boasts crystal-clear waters and white sand. Water sports aficionados will find this place to be a paradise, with lots of options for fishing, scuba diving, and sunbathing. Another big benefit is that residents can engage in outdoor activities all year round, thanks to the pleasant climate.

A beach around 5 minutes of walk away from the campus
Sea turtle I took a picture of while scuba diving

Nevertheless, there are drawbacks to residing in a less connected part of Okinawa. The requirement for a car to get anywhere, even to the closest supermarket, is one of the major obstacles. Particularly for people accustomed to the comfort of public transit, this can be extremely frustrating. Additionally, because of where I am living, which is about an hour away of driving from Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, flying is very time-consuming. This is very apparent when attending conferences or traveling outside the island, as most scientific meetings happen outside of Okinawa. Further, as there are not a lot of places to go out, not much nightlife, the community is small, and you can expect to meet the same people over and over again.

Despite the difficulties, I am looking forward to spending the next 4-5 years in Okinawa. The island's natural beauty and slower pace of life provide a unique and fascinating chance for personal growth and exploration. Having been here for a year, I have met a lot of different people which made me feel comfortable living here, despite all the inconveniences. While there will undoubtedly be trade-offs, I believe that the benefits of living in Okinawa will far outweigh any problems, and I am eager to see where this experience will take me.

Cape Manzamo in Onna village
Photo AC – ざわ