After my husband received his official orders to Okinawa, one of the first things I started thinking about was what kind of car I was going to purchase for myself. Although you will find quite a few cars similar to what we have in the states, small, box-style cars are very popular here because of how economical they are and because the roads are so narrow. Nissan Cubes and Scion XBs (know here as Toyota BBs) are spotted almost anywhere. I knew right away I wanted something I wouldn’t normally own in the States. I was in search of my “perfect little island car”.
We arrived on-island at the end of the rush of people moving on and off island (known to the military community as PCS season). Because of this, I started realizing with frustration that it was not as easy as I thought it would be to find what I wanted. Many of the cars I had looked at online were already sold and the ones left available were over priced because of the limited availability of cars. We spent several days scoping the online ads and stopping at every dealership. A few caught my eye, but the price tag scared me away. You can find a decent little car for a few thousand dollars here, I wasn’t willing to pay much more than that to only be here three years.
Finally after almost giving up on the quest to find my little island cruiser, the very last dealership we had to look at offered exactly what I wanted. It was cute, small and had character. I fell in love with the plaid seats, fog lights and tiny little hatchback.
Meet Mr. Bean. He’s a 2000 Daihatsu Mira Gina Mini-Light
Fast forward a few months of owning this bad boy. I had recently visited the temple for New Years and discovered that one of the awesome things they do is perform car blessing ceremonies in their shrine. Basically the gist of it is you pay your money, pull your car up and they bless your car. Once finished you’re given a bumper sticker and a charm for good luck. This seals your fate for the year, you will have great car and driving luck!
As silly as it may seem to some, I was immediately enthralled with the idea of blessing my favorite little island cruiser and told my husband I wanted to do this on my birthday. He’s a great husband and is a real sport at going along with most of my crazy ideas, so we packed into the car and headed to the temple on my birthday. I had read online how it’s performed before we went so I was confident I knew what I was doing. Upon arriving I pulled up, paid my Yen and gave the priest a paper with my name written in Japanese (thanks to my co-worker for writing it for me). I filled out the info on my car and stepped in front of the shrine to begin.
I will spare the step-by-step details of the blessing, but if you’re interested check out Map It! Okinawa and read their detailed description.
After completion the priest gave me 3 items. One is a bottle of sake that you take and splash on all four tires, the other a bumper sticker that said (in Japanese) the name of the temple and “drive safe” and finally an ‘Omamori’ (which is basically a good luck charm) that says for good driving.
My car was now officially blessed!
This was a great experience for our whole family. The kids really loved standing up there during the ceremony. A few times I peeked over at Taylor (who I expected to get bored) and she had her hands in prayer form and was bowing back to the priest. Too cute! While I was splashing sake on my tires, the priest came out of the shrine and acknowledged both kids by patting them on the head and telling them they were cute.
Going into it I was afraid my expectations might be too high and fortunately I was wrong. It was a really amazing experience and something I plan on repeating each year until we leave Okinawa.