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Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's Not so Bad.

I didn’t like this place. I didn’t want to come back to Japan. I had planned to leave Japan ever since I was small. I wanted to be independent, living overseas.

I gained my independence when I was living in Australia. I married George and I lost it again. I regained it again in the U.S. as I quickly adapted to the culture of independence. Who imagined I would come back to Japan? All of our Japanese acquaintances feel sorry for George because he is in a foreign country…poor George.

Probably only his mother and I know how happy he has been since he came to Japan. I really hope his mother sees his happiness with her own eyes one day.

George often says that he might still be in the honeymoon stage because he is so happy. He wants me to be as happy as he is. How can I? I am in the place that I dreamed about leaving since I was small. I never wanted to have my own business. I prefer working for someone else and having no responsibility.

To my surprise, I am gradually finding that life in Tsukahara is pretty good. There are things that I found which I cannot buy…nature, George’s health and happiness. Since we rent a house for our school, we have had to stay there some nights. I don’t like the water, the air, street lights, noises from the neighbors and the conveniences of living in a city. Those are the things that never bothered me before. So, what’s wrong with convenience? Well, if I’m hungry, the bento shops (Japanese take-out shop) are just a step way. If I want something sweet, it’s also a step away. I can be as lazy as I want because of the conveniences. The result is that convenience makes me fat, unhealthy and wasteful. In Tsukahara, it’s a 20 minute drive to get those things…inconvenient. I have to plan ahead of time so that I won’t forget to buy things to cook. Food can’t be wasted and we are very careful about the trash that we generate. Living in nature and having a septic system requires us to do so. Inconvenience has made us healthier. We used to listen to loud music all day. As our friends know, George installed an expensive speaker system in every room in our home in the U.S. It was important to shield the inside from the outside with music. Outside distractions were drowned out with music. Things have changed dramatically. The stereo is rarely turned on and never above a whisper. Instead, we listen to the wind, frogs croaking, leaves rustling…nature.  

We often eat out…not at a restaurant…we don’t have money, but outside on our deck. We don’t watch television…no channels because of our location, but we have a picturesque view of our mountains in front of us. George enjoys playing the guitar and serenading the volcano while our dogs are running around the yard chasing sounds coming from the tall grass. The small flowers/weeds growing along the gravel road leading to our home brings a smile to George. He enjoys discovering a green frog or viewing a raccoon off to the distance. Sometimes he’ll report that he saw a weasel or a red fox. He never counts the days till the weekend. He doesn’t mind Mondays. With such a tiny salary, he is so proud of what he is doing. I wonder how many people in this world find something more precious than money. His happiness teaches me a lot of things. I hate to admit it, but I think I may be happy in Tsukahara…shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Erika

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