We love our neighbourhood, a quiet residential area made up of small apartment buildings and private homes. Streets are narrow and buildings are close together but people do have small yards that they tend with great care. The area is safe, peaceful and very clean. Yesterday was a good example. On Tuesdays people put out recyclable cans and bottles for pick up. Sacks are provided for this purpose. Yesterday was extremely windy, however, and the sacks kept blowing over and emptying themselves. As pop cans rattled their way down the street, neighbours scurried out of their homes to pick them up! It was almost comical to watch. I’ve also seen people out sweeping the edge of the street in front of their property, cleaning up leaves and debris that have fallen from their trees. I can’t imagine such a thing happening back home.
Many of the homes in our area appear to be three generational with children, parents and grandparents living together. There are lots of kids in the neighbourhood. In fact, most mornings they’re our alarm clock as they pass beneath our window on their way to the nearby elementary school at about 7:45 every morning laughing and calling to one another. We’ve missed that this week as the school year ended recently. It’s basically year round schooling here, however, so they’ll be back in school next week.
Though our immediate surroundings are very peaceful, there are two train stations, one of our main schools and a busy commercial area all within easy walking distance. There are also two department stores each with a large grocery section less than a kilometer away. We’re fortunate in that two train lines intersect at one of our nearest stations so it’s easy to go in any direction from here.
Last week we acquired a bike from a teaching couple who were leaving to go back to the States. They sold it to us for 2000 yen, approximately $20! We also bought computer speakers from them for 300 yen and they threw in a folding canvas chair, a couple of cushions and a kitchen clock for nothing! I went for my first bike ride today and discovered a great park, also within easy walking distance from here. In fact, it’s right across the street from the post office. We’d seen the ball diamonds before but didn’t realize that they are at one end of the park which also contains tennis courts, gardens, a big playground area and many cherry trees! The park was crowded with people this afternoon and as is the custom at this time of year, many of them were picnicking under the cherry blossoms.
I wasn’t sure how well I’d navigate the bike up some of the hills around here but apparently all the walking this past month has been good preparation. Like most of the bikes here, ours is very basic with no gears but I cruised up the hills with little difficulty!