In our last post, we shared that one of the big decisions we made toward the end of 2017 was not to renew the contract of our apartment in Yokohama, and to make steps toward moving to our bigger home sometime this year (2018). It has always been Masashi’s dream to live in the countryside, in his hometown located in Hyogo prefecture. At first, I was hesitant about moving to the countryside (I wanted to eventually, but not necessarily with speed..), and thankfully Masashi never pressured me about the idea.
I grew up where the suburbs blended into the country in a small-town in California. Growing up in a small town was a good experience, but I also wanted to try living in the city. After graduating college, I moved.. first to San Diego, and then to Tokyo. It was a huge change in scenery and atmosphere to go from growing up in a town of less than 40,000 people to living in a city of over 9 million! I traded buses and a bicycle for trains, and my first share house in Asakusa (in Tokyo) was tiny compared to the roomy share house I lived in during college.
There were many wonderful things about living in Tokyo, such as new friendships, and the ability to travel anywhere at a moment’s notice (and at very little cost!). I enjoyed visiting many of the must-see spots, and joined an amazing church family. I had the chance to work on my career, and to network with people from all over the world.
However, it didn’t take long before the city seemed to cave in on me: the sounds, smells, and constant rush of a place that never sleeps brought great opportunities and experiences, as well as introducing me to my husband, but also began to take its toll. I began to miss the beauty of wide skies, stars sparkling at night, and clean air. I missed space to stretch my soul as well as my voice, without having to hunt out spots where my volume or energy would be an “inconvenience” to others. There is something about Tokyo that makes your shoulders bend in – you begin to feel smaller and smaller, trying to take up less space in a city that is already over-full.
Moving from Asakusa to Yokohama (south of Tokyo) was a welcome reprieve.. living by the water means fresher air, and the bay is a beautiful place to walk at night. It feels as if nature is worked more into the cityscape, and people walk with just a little less frenzy in their step. I see children and families walking the city on a more frequent basis than I did in Tokyo, and there is a bit more sky that makes its way between the closely-set buildings.
Yet, it is still “the city”. Crowded, close, rushed, and under-appreciative of beauty, nature, and even life itself. People live like slaves to their jobs, rising early and sleeping late. The energy of Yokohama can make you feel stretched thin. With this, our future work and ministry, my recent health condition, as well as pregnancy in mind, Masashi and I began to pray about the next step for us.. and decided that moving to his hometown was the best idea.
And, so it begins! While we are not yet certain the exact date of our moving (God-willing, it will be sometime in 2018 before the autumn), we’ve begun to keep the upcoming move in mind. This Christmas/Shogatsu vacation we spent in the locale where we plan to move, and began to look at the unused land (overgrown with weeds) with new eyes. There is space. Room to move, to sing, to exist.
The sky is wide, the mountains look as if they could harbor an enchanted forest, and the air is fresh. It is quiet – really quiet. There is no sound of motorcycle gangs driving on the highway at 2am, or a drunken おじさん (ojisan- old man) mumbling in an alleyway. There are no announcements playing noisily from trucks driving by with loudspeakers. There are no “shaka-shaka-shaka” sounds from the opening and shutting of metal garage and shop shutters, nor the crying of children across the street. Just peace, and calm.
We look forward to sharing as we prepare to move and transition from the city to our own “homestead” of sorts, in captivating and scenic rural Japan.
Are you planning on moving? Have you ever made a big move from the city to the country, or vise-versa?
Please share in the comments below. <3