Thursday, September 15, 2011


There are three main myths about the Japanese countryside that see a large number of people opting for countryside life as they get older in age. Unfortunately these myths are just that... myths!
1. The countryside is a peaceful place to live. I agree... in the winter! I saw a programme on TV where they measured the level of noise in the countryside vs a big city. Guess what? The countryside was actually noisier! Of course the noise is cicadas, frogs, crickets and quite a few weed-eaters instead of noisy, smelly cars, buses etc., but it is definitely not quiet!

2. The countryside allows you a life of relaxation where you can do everything at your own pace and not have to work your butt off. Mmm... I guess this would be true if you didn't intend to grow anything (which is why most people tend to head this direction), but living in the countryside is actually a lot of hard work - especially as things are not quite so "convenient" so you usually have to do a lot more things from scratch rather than just popping to the closest shop to pick things up. The fact that half the year it is REALLY hot and the other half is cold doesn't help much either!

3. The countryside is safe. I admit we have never really had an issue with this personally -the neighbours keep their eyes open and we have never had any "strange" happenings. Having said this I still don't feel comfortable about leaving my kids alone at home for even a short time. I guess the New Zealand strict laws regarding leaving minors alone has instilled a feeling of insecurity when it comes to this issue. Unfortunately there are no such laws in Japan and it is not unusual for 5 and 6 year olds to go home to an empty home and stay till late evening for a parent to come home. On Tuesday I was stopped by the police on my way to work. They were stopping every single car and checking in the back seats, and asking if we were alone before waving us on. It seemed strange at the time and I discovered that night that a 2 year old had gone missing from a car in a supermarket carpark earlier in the afternoon. The mother had just popped in for 5 minutes to pick up her groceries so she left the car engine going with the child asleep in the backseat, the doors unlocked. This is a very common thing here. The woman has been brought up in the Japanese society where this is standard practice so I don't think there is much point in saying how stupid she was. And of course this is the Japanese countryside where everything is safe. There is still no sign of the little girl. This is not the first time it has happened. I just keep wondering how many missing children it is going to take until Japanese society changes its attitudes to leaving children alone......

Having said all the above... do I like living in the Japanese countryside? No, I love it! I would never consider shifting to the city... despite all the myths!

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