Fleet Activities Sasebo
Fleet Activities Sasebo, also known as "CFAS" is located on the southwestern tip of Japan. The people of Sasebo, known as Saseboans, are warm, inviting, and friendly. It's a great place for families because it doesn't have the hustle and bustle of bases like Yokosuka, and has good hiking and outdoor activities. Some popular areas to travel are Saikai Park, Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, lots of waterfalls, temples, and onsens (Japanese hot spas). Some of the more family-friendly activities are Huis Ten Bosch, the Bio Park, Round 1 Saga and Fukuoka, Saga Prefectural Space and Science Museu, Takeo Onsen, and Beepu is just a short drive away. The Saseboans love the base, and love interacting with Americans. We have found Sasebo to be more open than Yokosuka (more free parking), and the pace is a bit slower, and it is less crowded. Great place to be stationed. Highly reccomended.
Depending on your family's needs, you can be placed in a townhouse, or in a tower unit. In the event of non-availability to accommodate your family's needs, you will be referred to the off-base or local housing. With this option, you will need about 3-4 paychecks worth to cover for the housing deposit, advance, and first month's rent (an advance to cover can be requested). The base itself is not big but it has the amenities and services that meet the Fleet and dependents' BASIC needs.
There are two elementary schools - Darby in Hario and Sasebo Elementary on Main Base. Middle School and High School are on the Main Base. For pre-schoolers/daycares, there are several options out in town in case Hario and Main Base centers are full.
The branch health clinic in Sasebo is an "annex" to the Yokosuka Naval Branch Health Clinic. So if there is a need for surgery, treatments, imaging, and testing, you will most likely be sent to Yokosuka or Hawaii. Immunizations and basic emergencies, you can get at the Sasebo clinic. For more serious emergencies, you will be sent to the local hospital in Sasebo. For those expecting or planning to have a baby, there is an option to deliver your baby in Yokosuka or in a local
hospital in Sasebo. Just be aware that they don't administer epidurals or pain relievers if delivering in a Japanese hospital. Dental care for family members is automatically referred off base as they only provide services to active duty members. Dental cost is not expensive in Sasebo...for the most part, we just paid out of pocket to avoid
Sasebo MWR offers lots of options for fun, morale, and health. There are gyms in Hario (smaller) and a fitness center on Main Base (bigger). Group fitness classes are offered too. MWR outdoor recreation allows your family to rent kayaks, fishing gear, camping needs, et al. They also offer hiking, fishing trips, and other outdoor events. For your school-aged children and or teens, both housing communities have SAC and youth and teen centers. If you are single or a geo bachelor, there is a liberty center and USO - both offer a lot of activities and even volunteering opportunities.
For grocery and other shopping needs, please be aware that the big commissary is in Hario. There is also a mini-NEX there. Main Base only has the mini-commissary, but it has the big NEX and the NEX furniture store. A lot of folks, like our family, purchase most of our produce and meat products at the local markets. They are a lot cheaper and fresher. For items that can't be substituted, then we purchased at the commissary. "American" items you can find off-base can also be very expensive.
One of the best parts about being stationed in Sasebo is the dining experience. Although the base has some restaurants and a food court, there are so many options off-base. If you want to immerse in as much of the Japanese culture, you can do it by savoring and enjoying their cuisine and delicacies. Aside from that, you can also find other specialties, like Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Korean et. al.
Japan, as a whole, is truly an East meets West and the ancient era collides with a modern era. You will experience this firsthand in Sasebo and its neighboring areas. If your family is up for different types of adventures, you can go on "temple runs", onsens, porcelain hunting, historical site visits, Samurai's and Geisha's dress-ups, among so many other things.
Getting around is so easy too. Should you decide to drive, be prepared to learn to drive on the other side of the vehicle as well as on the road. If driving is an opt-out, there are buses, cabs, trains, and bullet trains to take you wherever you desire. Others do their travels and tours too through MWR and ITT on base.
Every place, every duty station is what you make of it it. It is not all rainbows and unicorns in Sasebo as it has it's set of issues. However, the privilege and opportunity to live in a beautiful and safe country makes Sasebo a place where most would wish to stay longer or permanently.