Friday, November 05, 2010


I've been thinking about a question Kevin asked me in a comment he left on my blog last week. His question was "How far are you from the neighbors? Or from your own fields? Don't your chickens mess with your and your neighbors' crops?"

When I first read his question I thought - we live in the countryside so of course we don't have any neighbours for our chickens to bother. And then I thought a little harder and realised that we are in a bit of a unique situation here in the middle of the Japanese countryside. For anyone coming from New Zealand your image of countryside is probably one house, 10km of farm land, another house, another 10km of farm land etc. Houses are built to get maximum sunshine or a good view. Here in Japan things are a little different. All land that is vaguely flat was traditionally used for rice farming and houses were built in the cold bases of the mountains etc. that were too difficult to farm. This resulted in little clusters of houses in mainly cold areas and then vast areas of rice fields. The typical distance between houses in the countryside is probably around 5 meters. The first photo is of the "space" between my parents-in-law's house and their neighbour. The second is of one of the little "clusters" of houses near our house. Not exactly spacious!
Fortunately my husband had the foresight to build a house in a different kind of location before I met him. Our house is built on a rice field with no houses directly next to it. It is built to catch as much sun as possible and has a big grassy area for the children to play on. We are slowly taking over a few of the rice fields for gardening purposes. The chickens have one old small rice field, I have a big rice field for my garden and I have another tiny rice field for my herb and fruit garden. The chickens run free around our lawn and the herb, fruit and flower gardens. There is a steep set of stairs down to the vegetable garden which the chickens haven't discovered yet. Their only other exit is onto the road - which they very occasionally stray onto. There is a small river directly in front of our house so we can never be "built out". I know that countryside is not for everyone, but I personally think we have an ideal location! Now if there was a small cafe on one of our other rice fields it would be perfect......


  1. I agree-I love you location! I'm not a city gal though so it would suit me just fine. I posted pictures of our little house that is waiting for us. I'm happy with it but would not have minded if it had been in the middle of a rice field....

  2. Your husband certainly is an enlightened man! I think maybe flat country living is different to mountain living, too. Building roads into the mountains seems to have been difficult and we have one road lined cheek to jowl with houses and then field, field, orchard, field then finally another street. I still say you husband is an enlightened man though!

  3. Anonymous7:00 AM

    It will happen, I have no doubt (the cafe) And it will be a stunner.

  4. I love that last pic of all the space around your house. It's perfection honestly! : )

    I was raised in suburbia. I wasn't raised in the countryside in the states. However living in the suburbs, we all had very big plots of land. Nice very large square plots of land. With a very very large front yard and then we had a privacy fence and then a very very large backyard. And we had a 3 car garage. The space from our house to our neighbors house was fairly large. However with living in the suburbs I had everything at my finger tips. I could drive to any restaurant or cafe. I enjoyed growing up in the area where I grew up.

    And then....when we moved to Japan. We moved to a fairly large-ish city. We rented a house. I was absolutely shocked there was no yard at all!!! I have never even contemplated a house with no yard. The land shapes were bizarre. Not square, some had triangle shapes land. And we had 5 houses surrounding our house. I thought you could only have 4. I obviously was wrong. We had houses surrounding our little house rental every direction of the house. The houses were like so close to each other. In the mornings and I'm not exaggerating I could actually hear the neighbor clink and clank their cup as they stirred their morning coffee or tea what have you. At night, I could hear the other house, the man often coughed and also farted during the night. Much too much information for me personally. ; ) It was so close. I felt closed in. Boxed in. Don't laugh. But this depressed me immensely. : ( I could not live like that. Once I opened my curtain at night....forgetting where I was for just that split second, just hoping to look at the stars and I accidentally surprised my neighbors grandson who was studying with his window open. He closed his curtain for privacy, I had a @_@ look and closed mine back. I felt I had no room to stretch my arms even or breathe. Branden's original yochien was in that city. It was not very far from our house geographically speaking but with living in the city, it took 30 minutes when it should have been a 5 minute drive. Sure I had restaurants at my finger tips. But...not if it took me 30 minutes to an hour to even get down the road because of all that insane traffic. Forget it. I loathed living there. Granted I am sure people love the city and that's great if they do, everyone can choose where they want. It just was not for me. Also, Branden started riding a tricycle in that city, I was so scared always, with all that traffic. I told Noboru if the traffic doesn't kill us, the pollution will.

    We moved here where we are now. And I am finally at peace. We live in a housing community, which is what we wanted. But we still have space from our neighbors. We also thought about possible future development too. So that's why we chose to live on the highland/elevated area in front of a huge rice field. Our whole backyard is facing south, we get so much sunshine. Our whole family's at peace. We can't hear what's happening in our neighbors house and that's great. : )

    I'm not a country girl by birth or from the way I was raised. in the countryside in Japan was a much closer fit to the life we had dreamed of. All the backyard BBQ's were finally within reach, etc etc. Anyway love the area where you live, you must have such peace living there. Definitely right up my alley. : )

  5. PS, sorry my comment was so long. You just always write posts that I can relate to. So much so, that you got me typing tons at the keyboard this morning. : ) Gomen ne. : )