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 on Masashi’s heart to live in the countryside, in his hometown located in Hyogo prefecture. To be honest, at first, I was hesitant about moving to the countryside (I desired to eventually, but perhaps after a few more years..), and thankfully Masashi never pressured me about the idea.

Yet, as we prayed about the direction for our family, gradually our thoughts began to synchronize, and any reservations faded into non-existence.  

Living in the countryside is not entirely unfamiliar. 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 after graduating college, I moved.. first to San Diego, and soon after to Tokyo.

Chinatown, Yokohama

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. I joined an amazing church family, made new friendships, and had opportunities for meaningful work and ministry. I also met my husband, Masashi. 

However, eventually the city seemed to cave in on me: the sounds, smells, and constant rush of a place that never sleeps 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.

Tokyo can make 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.

After marrying, my husband and I moved into our first home in Yokohama (south of Tokyo). The change from living in a share house in Asakusa came as a welcome reprieve.. living by the water meant fresher air, and the bay is a beautiful place to walk at night.

Nature is worked more into the cityscape, and people walk with just a little less frenzy in their step. Children and families seem to go walking on a more frequent basis than in Tokyo, and a bit more sky makes its way between the closely-set buildings.

Yet, Yokohama is still very much a “city”. At times, it can feel crowded, close, rushed, and under-appreciative of beauty, nature, and even life itself.. and it is hard to resist the severity of the work culture that seeps into areas of our lives. 

We also began to feel our callings shift. God was calling us to a new place of work, ministry, and life. With this, 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.

the forest in Hyogo in the winter

And so, it begins!

While we are not yet certain the exact date of our moving (God-willing, in 2018 before the autumn), we’ve begun to keep the 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, 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. In some ways, I will miss the noise!

But, it is easy to imagine growing a home, and welcoming others over to eat and share. We have learned much from our city existence, and now it is time to put into practice what we have learned about love, balance, family, and home.

We look forward to sharing as we prepare to move and transition from the city to our own “homestead” of sorts, in 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