Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Why Live Here?

by Shawn Thir

Photo of Ashigara Pass by Shawn Thir

I think we’ve established that the Odawara area
is no hot bed of excitement. It begs the question:
Why are we here?
I found Odawara by fluke. I
originally came to Japan to work as an English teacher at
GEOS(blood sucking vampires!) and they asked new teachers
where in Japan they would like to work. Being an avid
outdoorsman, I chose, in order: Hokkaido(for its nature),
Kyoto(for its history) and anywhere near Mt. Fuji(looking
at a map, I wanted to be near the nature that was
around there). In the end, I got sent to Odawara, in the
shadow of Mt. Fuji.
It’s a great place to live.
I’m only 40 minutes from Tokyo by bullet train. I
live in a valley with the mountains of Hakone on one
side and the Tanzawa mountains on the other. I’m
close to the hot spring heaven of Hakone-Yumoto. There
are numerous places to hike, camp and mountain bike.
The beaches of Izu are an hour or two away. It’s
quiet out here and the locals know me(it can be bit of
pain too because they all ask me when I’m going to
marry my girlfriend). I know my neighbors. I live near
a river and am surrounded by rice paddies. In the
summer I like walk among them and gaze at the stars and
look for fireflies. My 1st floor apartment has
spacious patio and I’m constantly trying to fight off the
neighborhood cats from eating my tulips. I think this summer
I’ll have a BBQ out back- you’re all invited. Most of
all, it’s quiet. There’s something to be said about
some honest peace and quiet after coming home from
work- no trains or traffic. There is something sublime
about listening to the cicadas or crickets on a hot
summer night.
I think it is the slower pace of life
and proximity of the mountains and ocean that do it
for me. I love Tokyo; it’s one heck an exciting city
but I simply would mad if I had to live there. A good
friend in Yokohama always urges me to move there- move
out of the boondocks and into civilization he says. I
contemplated the thought. More imported food, theatres,
restaurants and shopping. I can’t argue with those creature
comforts. Ultimately, it’s a lifestyle choice. This is
where I choose to hang my hat and I’m happy. What else
do you need?

Originally posted to the Odawara Bulletin Board


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