Monday, September 13, 2010


apartment complexes / a side road

I was placed in a homestay in Higashiyamatoshi.  It's about 45min by train from Shinjuku.  Everyone says that this is 'rural' Japan, but its just as busy a neighborhood as some areas of Pittsburgh.  The pictures that I took of Higashiyamatoshi I took with the intention of making it seem more rural, but it really is quite bustling.  It's just a ten minute bus ride to Tachikawa, and that is certainly not rural by any stretch.  

There is this little field with walking / bike baths running through it.  It's adorable.  

The fact that all the Japanese people here call this 'rural' really is a testament to how ... crowded Japan is.  The population is truly immense for the size of the land, and you can sometimes feel it while walking down the streets in Tokyo.  However what is interesting is that this large population has given birth to a subculture based upon keeping your existence as unbothersome as possible.  When you are figurative bumping elbows with your neighbors all the time, it's best to be as little of a disturbance as possible. 

This little segment where the grass overcomes the road is my favorite path. 

It's interesting, because everyone that has been to Japan, and even those who haven't, all profess that Japanese people are so polite and they are so respectful of one another.  Whether this is actually true or not I'm sure is debatable, but there is definitely a culture surrounding how not to disturb those around you.  However I don't think it's as self-sacrificing as some romanticists would like to believe, I think its just a result of the acknowledgement that everyone is better off if everyone follows that code.  It's selfish, and very effective.  

A lot of things here seem more effective than I to what I am accustomed.  Many things are so systematic.  The bike culture amazes me.  Today I rode for the first time long distances, and it was great.  I also got the bike fixed up from its sad state of disrepair for only ¥210!  I think the guy might have felt bad for me because I clearly only understood parts of his explanations of what was wrong with the bike, and I was clearly frazzled. (I had walked a mile with the bike to pump the tires, only to get on and on and find that the pedals didn't work the wheels)

Here the sucker is.  She's a cutie.  


  1. yet people crowd onto elevators and subways in a rather impolite (by american standards) way. "pushing" is not exactly the right word, its more forceful than that. of course, it feels polite because they don't look at you, and no one says a thing, but i'm still getting rather jostled, especially if i don't board fast enough. i was just thinking about this today because getting on the elevator at thackery (heading to japanese class coincidentally) classmates got on in front of me and just stood there, blocking the entrance, and i thought, if i was in japan, i'd just push her over and get on rather than stand frustrated, muttering, excuse me, which I KNOW SHE HEARD! :-)

    anyway, awesome photos and observations. i'm looking forward to reading, and seeing more.

  2. Whoa. "Rural" Japan looks suburban... except for the spacing between homes, which definitely looks city-ish for us Americans. The contrast between the open spaces (the fields) and the tiny ones (the houses) seems kinda strange, but endearing. Love your pictures!

  3. @Rebecca: Yeah its definitely a little crazy with trains, although I can't say I've taken an elevator yet (except for the school ones) so we'll see. On the train people do that thing where they enter the train backwards and just push everyone else behind them closer together. Sometimes I think.. I have no more space, we at capacity. Several stops later I realize that I had much more space for the taking @_@

    @Lauren - Yeah like I said, I really tried to rural these pictures up. It's not even as rural as this looks here. I'm going to go out in a bit with my camera and I'll post some more accurately representative photos. I'm glad you like them :3

  4. yes, yes. you are thinking, not a single other person can possible fit into this filled to capacity box, not even a skinny japanese person, and yet, somehow, at least six more people shove their way on. its a bit of an art. some kind of inverse law of space going on. (except i'm mixing all my metaphors a bit). i did ride all the way to shinjuku once with my ass resting against some guy behind me. never even saw what he looked like.

    when you get outside tokyo, things do open up a bit. i visited a friend in gunma (about two hours away) and that was rural. there were stretches of rice fields and plots of land, and actual space. it was cooler than tokyo being a bit close to the mountains. and on a clear, from a high tower in the garden park we visited, you are supposed to be able to see the city.