Some of the scenery from where I live now. Please don't make me go back to Tokyo...
It's so interesting how different people are. You are in the countryside of Sweden, ejoying every moment of it and wishing not to go back to a big city like Tokyo. I'm in the countryside of Hokkaido, slowly gowing crazy with all the cows around me and lack of people, counting down the months (only 11 more) before I can leave go back to a city like Tokyo.
I wish I could share your love for nature, but I just get so depressed living in a town of less than 3,000 people, 9,000 cows and nothing to do. I miss human contact and the variety of people and things to do that are in big cities. I guess it's good that there are these differences, though, as if everybody liked to be in the same places it would be really boring and very crowded.
Anytime you are feeling like you don't want to be in Tokyo just let me know. I'll trade you Hokkaido for Tokyo any day.
Jonah, in all fairness, I should point out that it is not just the nature I love, although it would seem that way from reading my blog and seeing the pictures. I also love being in a place where people know each other and I can say hi to anyone I pass. I loved in in Karlskrona (the small sity I lived in until a few weeks ago) where I couldn't go anywhere without bumping into someone I knew. I love it even more living here on the nature reserve. Today I spent the day with a new friend helping an old friend to paint a room in the cafe. In payment we had lunch. Then later bumping into some other new firends I met last week, just in timt to help them with their garden. For payment I recieved dinner and some good tips about what "weeds" are edible and how to best eat them. Last night I and another friend spent a few hours helping yet another new friend retreive his marooned sailboat from a nearby island. All of these are thingst hat just "happened" because we are living so close to each other and see each other every day, if only in passing. If I lived in Tokyo, the friend with the cafe would have had to make an appointment with me to get me to help him paint, as would the guy needing help with his boat... I would never have met some of the new friends (who became friends because I meet them every day for small seemingly meaninless encounters), and I would never have had the opportunity to help the friends with their garden (because they didn't really need help and would not have made an appointment).
I guess I didn't do a good job of explaining it, but what I mean is that I am really loving this everybody knows everybody situation. It's something I never got in Tokyo. Sure I knew some of the local shop owners, but I never had the occasion where I was talking to the shop owner and someone else I knew walked into the shop and we all knew each other and could sit and chat for fifteen minutes.... and then have a stranger walk in who feels just as comfortable to join the conversation!
But the nature is a part of it as well. Despite being on my deathbed the past few days due to hay-fever, I can't keep myself inside. everyday I find something new, I learn something that I feel so stupid about not knowing before... something that seems so obvious, yet I have been so disconected. every morning I sit outside and have breakfast and a new bug lands on me, I see a new flower, or taste a new weed--- and it's all free!!!!! I would also enjoy the city if it didn't cost so dang much to go to a blues concert, or an art show (next week there is a free theater going on here... and I "know" the theater group because I have seen them practicing for the past few weeks and I eat lunch at the same place, and share friends). If the culture in the city was affordable, I would love it. It doesn't even have to be as "good", as long as it is fun. (but as far as that goes, tomorrow a professional artist will be moving in for a while and I wont have to pay to see her work.
Anyway, I'm babbling.
I do agree though that it is good that we don't all like the same things... of course, if people all had this craving for a connection to the natural world and community, perhaps the human population would not have grown so big, eliminating the need for cities in the first place... I don't know....
Your experiences in the countryside of Sweden sound much different, and much better, than my experiences here in the countryside of Hokkaido. Maybe it's the culture, maybe it's me, maybe it's the people I'm around and maybe it's a combination of this all, but I don't get any of that "everybody knows everybody" situation where I am. Basically I am in the "everybody knows me and I know nobody" situation. Maybe it's because I always lived in big cities, but I don't want everybody to know all about me. I like to have my friends and I know them and they know me, but I don't want to be an open book to everyone in the community.
I'm the only foreigner in a town of 3,000 so everybody knows every move I make. I had a friend over a few weeks ago, and the next morning at work my boss commented about how he saw a different car outside of my apartment and proceeded to ask me a bunch of questions. I hate that. I don't want to be an attraction of this town, where everybody gets to gossip about what the token foreigner is doing. It wouldn't be so bad if I actually had a relationship with the townsfolk, but it is so hard because they are so unwilling to let me into their group. I've invited people out for dinner, to go hiking, helped out with the local festivals and have really made an effort to integrate into the community. But no matter how hard I try, in the year that I've lived here I've had less than five invitations by the locals to do something. I guess it doesn't help that the average age here is around 60 (there are almost no young people here), but I've grown tired of trying to integrate into the town and not get anything back.
I think the culture is probably a big part of it. I've always found it hard to integrate with Japanese groups because it seems like it always takes them much longer to accept you than other cultures would. I think this is even more prevelant in the small towns like this where I live. Maybe it's because they know I'm leaving next May so they don't feel like trying to make a friendship is worth the effort, and if so that's their decision, but it doesn't make me feel very good about living here. When I wasa studying for a year in Osaka I made so many friends from all over the world. Some were only there for 6 months, others for a year or more, but nobody cared because we were there then and it was one of the best times of my life. Here in this small little town nobody seems to want to make an effort to have any kind of relationship with me that's beyond the typical "tatemae" of the Japanese, and it's frusterating because I've tried very hard to integrate into the community.
You spend your days in the countryside of Sweden meeting new people, hanging out with friends and enjoying your surroundings. That sounds great and I'm envious of you. I spend my days in the countryside of Hokkaido going to work during all of the daylight hours, coming home, going for a jog and then sitting alone in my apartment. The winter is also horrible as it snows so much, there's almost no daylight and since it's so hard to go anywhere because of the roads (no trains here) you are stuck home most of the time. It's not that fun.
Anyway, I'm rambling too much. I do agree that the city can be too expensive, but at the same time you can find cheap things to do that are fun. One of my favorite things to do is just walk around and take photographs of all of the different people making their way through a concrete jungle. To me, they are more interesting than the flowers and cows I have here in Hokkaido.
Kevin: You have strong kung-fu.
Jonah: Good luck with your sitch, hope you pep up. My brother-out-law lived in obihiro as a gardener for a while, and he felt similar vibes to what you're describing, and he's japanese!
Oh my god--have you seen this? I didn't know you had a "people"!