Happy to have this guest post by Kelly on MCAS Iwakuni in Japan. Please visit my Duty station guest post page for posts on other locations or more information about how you can write a guest post about where you have been stationed.
Finding out your family has orders overseas can be intimidating but if you’re one of the lucky ones that has orders to MCAS Iwakuni, you’ll soon fall in love with this tiny but growing base. There is plenty on base to remind you of home but fun and adventure begins as soon as you exit the gates.
While it is small, MCAS Iwakuni offers quite a bit. At Crossroads Mall there is Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King, Taco Bell, Baskin Robbins, and Crossroads Café. Currently the Post Office, Commissary, and Sakura Theater are in the process of being moved to larger buildings to accommodate the base’s growing population. There is a bunch of construction going on to building new homes and renovating some of the older homes and towers. There are three types of housing for families: row homes (three story 3 or 4 bedrooms), town homes (two story 2 or 3 bedrooms), and tower apartments (2 or 3 bedrooms). One of the things I can’t seem to get over is how beautiful it is here. The Nishiki River runs past the Sea Wall and a great place to watch to sun set behind the mountains. The Sea Wall runs around most of the base. It is as wide as a small road and paved. A great place to go walking, running, or bike riding. It runs past the Ironworks Gym. The gym is decent sized and offers a variety of fun classes to keep you in shape. The indoor pool is located at Ironworks. There is an outdoor pool with a waterslide located across the street from Crossroads Mall and the Library. The Library just reopened in January after a renovation that included installing a 3D printer that is free to use.
Off base there are many options for food, fun, and adventure. There are many restaurants within walking distance. You can try okonomiyaki (savory pancake), yakitori (food on a stick), shabu shabu (cook your food in flavored broths), yakuniku (cook your food on a grill in front of you), and a variety of ramen shops without having to go more than ten minutes from base. While you are and about, it’s highly recommended to go see Kintaikyo Bridge. It is a beautiful stone and wooden bridge built in the 1600’s. It is beautiful on it’s own but stunning when the Nishiki River is lined with cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Just past the Kintaikyo Bridge is Kikko Park where you can find many fountains and statues. You can ride a gondola from Kikko Park to Iwakuni Castle. Iwakuni Castle has been turned into a museum about Iwakuni City. The view from the top of the castle is breathtaking. If you wish to see more of Japan it’s easy to hop on a plane or train or even the bullet train to explore Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Miyajima Island or even Tokyo. Recently MCAS Iwakuni made the news when President Obama visited the base on his way to see the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima.
Don’t let being in a foreign land intimidate you. Don’t just stay on base. Actually go out and experience all that Japan has to offer. The memories you’ll make will last a lifetime. Don’t worry about the language barrier. The Google Translate app has helped us get around that. The Nationals are some of the nicest people I have met. Most of the time when we ask directions to a place they will actually walk us to the destination even if it’s a few blocks away. Either way be open to adventure and enjoy your time in Japan.
Kelly Stillwagon is originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She currently lives in Iwakuni, Japan with her handsome husband, Jeremy. She is the owner of Barking Fabulous Dog Treats, and a blogger for I Do and Adieu. Kelly is also a paranormal investigator with over 10 years of experience. In her free time she loves to read, penpal, bake, paint, and veg out with Netflix with her kittens, Katniss Everpurr and Bagheera.