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!
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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