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I found out that there are some kinds of events held on land that is part of US bases here in Okinawa that are attended by the general public, Japanese and American.

The particular event I noticed was a weekly flea market each Sunday.

I know it's open to the local Japanese as well as the US military. But I don't know what the rules are for people of other nationalities. Are passports checked? Would non Japanese need to have a US visa?

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Bring your passport or your Japanese resident card, whatever nationally, as id is often checked. For public events you won't need anything else. For non-public events you would have to be signed into the base by a military member/dependent. (Still no visa or anything further needed. Just id) –  computermacgyver Mar 20 at 19:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It certainly looks like they're checked, before opening time.

From the "Rules" page on MCCS Okinawa's flea market:

  1. The Flea Market opens to sellers at 6a.m. on Camp Courtney and at 11 a.m. on Camps Foster and Kinser.

  2. Anyone entering before opening time must be a seller with SOFA status and have a valid Department of Defense (DoD) identification card. The following are exceptions to this rule:

    • Visiting family members with valid passports who are accompanying sellers.
    • Local national family members dependants with valid DoD ID card who are accompanying sellers.
  3. The flea market opens to the public at:

    • 7 a.m. - Camp Courtney
    • Noon - Camps Foster and Kinse

In addition, I contacted MCCS Okinawa, and they confirmed that citizens of other counties / tourists are welcome.

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FYI - SOFA = Status of Forces Agreement. In this case, it means the seller needs to be a person with a legitimate reason to be on (or represent) the base (e.g. military, civilian, support staff or their spouses). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status_of_forces_agreement –  Sam Mar 18 at 1:25

We went to the flea market at Camp Kinser last Sunday afternoon, about half an our before the market closed.

I was a bit worried about the rules and didn't have a visa or ESTA. I went with my local Okinawan friend who has nothing to do with the military or the bases.

The flea market is inside the outermost perimeter fence. There are further perimeter fences that market attendees do not pass. There is a Japanese security guard at the entrance gate. I did not notice any US or military officials at all. The guard did not ask for passports or any other kind of ID.

So it appears that at least for this particular regularly held event at this particular base that shoppers do not require any paperwork at all, not even ID. I was surprised.

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