The Only Foreigner for 30km
Positives of Living in the Japanese Countryside 田舎
Born and raised only about 30 minutes from downtown Dallas, Texas, it’s an extreme lifestyle change living in the inaka (Japanese countryside). Even though it’s more inconvenient than I’m used to, there are many wonders about the countryside that I have come to love:
It’s very quiet.
My only noise companions are the occasional trains, stray cats and the morning rooster call. (There was also one bizarre night when a group of cats started howling in the street on new years eve…Secret cat meeting?) ヒミツ猫大会ですか？ :3
The stars are incredible.
There is minimal electricity in my area and I’ve never seen such a clear sky of stars in my life. This reminds me of the kanji for star. Hoshi 星 is the kanji for “star” in Japanese, and there is an older pictorial form of this kanji (pictured below) that I studied for calligraphy class. There is also the kanji for “shooting star” 流星, pronounced nagareboshi. The older kanji reminds me of shooting stars since there are three in the sky that seem to be moving or connected by lines.
Onsens 温泉 (hot springs) and outdoor life are in abundance.
Many Japanese tourists visit my town because of the beautiful mountains and famous onsens. The biggest onsen nearby is called Kawane Onsen and is completely booked on weekends and holidays. There are many other fun things to do and see, like hiking, camping, fishing, walking on suspension bridges, and exploring tea farms, temples and shrines.
Although my apartment isn’t new and fancy and it gets extremely cold during the winter, I think experiencing the Japanese countryside is invaluable. The inaka has inspired me to be more adventurous, inquisitive, understanding, and appreciative of my surroundings. It also forces me to speak more Japanese – albeit sometimes awkwardly. It’s not the most comfortable or convenient place to live, but then again that’s not the point of joining the JET program, is it?
So, if you’re looking for a beautiful get-away from city life, let me know and I will gladly introduce you to inaka life.