Q: Is there a Gym?
A: There is a nice gym in the Troop Support Facility (TSF) at the Headquarters area.
Q: Where do I go to the doctor or dentist?
A: The closet US military facility is Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni (MCAS Iwakuni), about 2 hours by car. They have a medical and dental clinic. For routine sick call, we contact them for an appointment. For emergencies, we have a support agreement with one of the local Japanese hospitals. They take very good care of us. One of our Japanese workers will accompany you as a translator. For specialized care, you can be medevaced to Yokosuka, Japan or Okinawa.
Q: Where is the PX?
A: There is a very small px/class 6/video loan room in the TSF. MCAS Iwakuni has a medium-sized exchange (MCX). If they have the item you want, buy it immediately as the stock changes frequently. Internet shopping and catalogues are a must for most people. Unless you are small, it is hard to find clothing on the Japanese economy. The closest military dry cleaners and tailor are also at MCAS Iwakuni.
Q: Is there a commissary?
A: Yes. Kure is the proud owner of the smallest commissary in the world (see the pix). The manager will work with you to special order any items that are available in the commissary system.
Q: Is living in Japan expensive?
A: Yes, it is. However, soldiers and DAC civilians assigned to Kure are authorized COLA to offset living expenses.
Q: Can I bring my family?
A: Only the BN CDR is authorized an accompanied tour. Most soldiers here come for a one-year, unaccompanied tour. It is considered a remote assignment. There are only 4 family housing units and the CDR's quarters. You can ask for a command-sponsored tour, but expect the answer to be no.
Q: Is there child care available?
A: There is no child-care available. Local day-care is difficult to arrange. MCAS Iwakuni has CDC, but it is 2-hrs away.
Q: How about continuing education?
A: We use the education center at MCAS Iwakuni. Many soldiers are enrolled in the University of Maryland program. We have a VTC system and are working on making courses available that way too.
Q: How about the children's education?
A: For school age children there are several options, but they all present challenges. Your child can attend the local Japanese schools. This is usually fine for kids 1-6th grades. They can also attend local Japanese school and MCAS Iwakuni part-time. They can go to MCAS Iwakuni, but have to work out the living/commuting arrangements. Or, the can attend the Canadian International Academy at Kobe. A very fine boarding school.
Q: How do I contact home?
A: We use the Army Postal System. There is a mail room in the Headquarters building. All mail is sent to MCAS Iwakuni and is picked up every week day by certified individuals. Also, if you live on post, you will have reimbursable phone service in your room, or you can use a calling card. For Ondo Housing residents, you must pay for a Japanese phone line-a one-time fee for hook up, plus monthly usage fees. Most people place phone calls from their computer using the internet service rather than their long distance carriers.
Q: What else is their to do?
A: There are numerous festivals in the area throughout the year, such as the recent Yukata (summer kimono) festival, and the flower festival in May. You can get information from the MWR. The Battalion attends the bon odori festival in August at the 13th BDE, Japanese Ground Self Defense Force headquarters?it is lot of fun. You can also travel throughout the Pacific?Thailand, Australia, Singapore, you name it. There is an ITT at MCAS Iwakuni and also local travel agents.
Q: Can I bring a car?
A: No, and you really don't want to b/c the steering wheel will be on the wrong side of the car, and that is hard to adjust to. But it is easy to buy an inexpensive used car. The Provost Marshal's Activity will help you make sure that you have the required parking permit, and pay your road tax. You must also maintain the Japanese Certification Inspection (JCI) in order to keep your car on the road. The price varies depending on age, make, model, etc., but is usually about $400-600+ for a 2-year certification. When buying a car, try to get one with some sort of JCI left on it, or ask for a better deal.
Q: Is it hard to drive in Japan?
A: The Japanese drive on the "wrong" side of the road, but it is surprisingly easy to adapt to. The PMA will conduct classes to get your license to drive a POV. You must have a valid US drivers license first.
Q: Is gas expensive?
A: Gas is expensive on the local economy, but there is a gas pump on post.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: The weather is very similar to weather in eastern North Carolina. There is very little snow in the winter, but a lot of cold rain. The "rainy season" is in the month of June. The summer is very hot and humid. Check out: Weather Underground Kure, Japan Forecast