Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Quiet Life?

I often wonder what would I enjoy more, the quiet life in Japan or life here in the city. I am planning a big change next year and I wonder if moving to a quieter locale in Japan might be the answer. I do plan to head to Canada sometime in the near future (I hope) and resume my teaching career, but before I leave Japan’s shores, would it be a healthy move to live in the countryside or at least a smaller city/town?

I realize that life in a large Japanese city is exciting and fast paced. There are so many things to do and of course so many amenities. Some things I would definitely miss if I were to relocate to a smaller area, but there are many things I would not miss at all.

What would I miss about big city living?

1. International restaurants. My wife and I really do enjoy stopping by a Thai, Indian, Turkish, Italian, etc., restaurant on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch. I would miss the variety of international eateries if I were to live in a small town.

2. Transportation. Public transportation in Japan’s large urban areas is really good. I suppose I would have to get a car!

3. Department stores. I would miss the convenience and variety of department store shopping.

4. Cultural events. I would miss the museums, parks and frequent outdoor cultural events.

5. More people speak English so it is easier to communicate.

6. More foreigners living in the big cities. People in a city like Kobe are quite used to seeing foreigners on a daily basis so they don’t tend to gawk much.

Things I would not miss:

1. Crowds of people all over the place.

2. Nightclubs and bars. I’m in my mid-thirties, married and have a child. To be honest, I have no interest in going to clubs anymore. I do however enjoy an occasional pint at a pub, but to be honest, I only go out once every few months!

3. Traffic

4. Air pollution

5. Tired looking salary men everywhere I go. They really are depressing.

6. Lack of green-space (mind you, Kobe does have a lot of it).

7. Having to commute by crowded train.

Now of course, life in the country would have its benefits. It would be quiet and peaceful. I could get outside and be much closer to nature. The environment would be cleaner and possibly safer for raising a child. I could also get involved in more outdoor activities. I would also be forced to speak more Japanese!

There would also be some downsides. I would stick out like a sore thumb as a foreigner and it would probably be more difficult to make friends and certainly not easy to have a variety of friends. I also think that the lack of amenities might start to get to me.

My wife thinks that I would have a romance period with my new rural location for about two weeks and then be bored out of my tree. She may be right. She tends to know me better than I know myself!

To be honest, I have no idea if I would be happier living in a smaller population center. I might be or I might not be. I suppose the only way I would ever know would be to give it a try. There are clearly both upsides and downsides to living in the city vs. living in the country. I suppose that is the same in any country you call home. Food for thought though!

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Hyakkoshachi said...

Why not try a medium sized city...or a small town that gets alot of tourists or is next to a large city.

Brokendrums said...

@Hyakkoshachi now that sounds like a good idea!


I love Tokyo..with so many places to see and places to eat and the little carts at Skigi were a must when we went to the city.. nice fresh sea food, cooked one piece at a time. But I also lived in smaller towns.. and I will tell you in 1952 it was diffrent being a "Amiechan" but things have changed over the years and the only ones that notice me now are the people that I have know for a life time and it is so neat to walk down the streets and everyone speaks to you. Of course that town like all others has grown.. but it's still home to me.. the same barber(well his oldest son now).

Esper Ranger said...

It depends on how far out in the country you want. When I lived in Japan, my apartment was a 10 or 15 minute bike ride from Hankyu Mukonoso. There were lots of rice and vegetable fields around and even some horses but still shopping nearby. It even had a view of Mt Rokko and Kabuto-yama.

Dimitri said...

A small town next to a large city is very nice alternative.

I really enjoy living in Ibaraki (Osaka pref.). The population is under 300,000 and I am minutes away from the mountains, but still less than 40 minutes from Umeda using public transports.

I went to a meeting just North of Okubo station (in Akashi) once, and it seemed to offer the same benefits.

Jason H. said...

Yeah - having lived in a great city like Kobe to start with, it would be hard to transition to the inaka now. If you started there, as I did in 2004, then you just get used to it as "your Japan." But you would really miss those things you mentioned and the friends you have in the Kansai area. Of course, you can make new friends, but it can be difficult for the reasons you mentioned - language barrier and less foreigners.
Having said all that, I do love the laid-back and peaceful lifestyle I have out here in rural Japan, and being only about 2 hrs away from Hiroshima is fine by me if I need to get away to a "big city."

Brokendrums said...

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback folks. It is still something I ponder!