Although I live in central Okayama, the school that I teach at is in a more rural area of the city. It is kind of an awesome area to have a small school in because everyone seems to know each other. Since there are a lot of farmers, the kids are really connected to nature and where their food comes from.
I still prefer the slight hustle and bustle of downtown Okayama, but I can definitely see the benefits of living in the rural area. It is so beautiful! I see a lot of nature in Japan everywhere, and it is truly at its finest in the areas that aren’t as populated.
A lot of the time while I was in Japan, just walking around was my exercise of choice. I would ride my bike wherever I needed to go, but when I just wanted to relax I would take a stroll around. There was always something new for me to see.
Speaking of my bike, I miss so much being able to just hop on my bike and go wherever I want. It was so freeing and a great way to stay active! I would get my groceries, go downtown to shop, grab a coffee or do just about anything! I didn’t feel weird at all since it is so common here… always a place to ride my bike and a place to park it. Those were the days!
I was listening to the Jillian Michael’s Show podcast on Itunes and she said something along the lines of just getting outside and exercising helps you to be more motivated to exercise because nature lifts the mood. I have to agree. I came to really look forward to and enjoy my walks that I would take at the end of a long day. Something about being out and surrounded by beautiful foliage made me want to keep walking around and exploring forever.
During my break during the school day, I was often bored. I mean, there is only so much reading and prep one can do right? I decided I would take advantage of that hour by going out and exploring the area around my school. I had pretty much explored central Okayama, so I was interested to see how different the area would be.
I saw a lot of plants and gardens in the main city of course, but out in the country there was even more to see. It was so beautiful and serene, but still busy in some ways with students on the way to and from classes. I loved seeing the elementary school students in their cute little uniforms crossing the street.
I saw a lot of fruits growing that I had never seen before, coming from Indiana. I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen an apple tree, a blueberry bush and corn grow. Not much! I remember when I saw a pomegranate tree for the first time near my school, I freaked out!
I saw a lot of things that I couldn’t identify either… sometimes I forgot to ask, haha. I came to Japan during the time of the persimmons though, which I had never eaten before! We do have them here, but it isn’t popular, at least for my family. I quite liked them! A lot of times the various shrines would have a lot of fruit trees… you could literally just grab a few while you were there, I saw a lot of families doing this. So nice!
I stumbled upon a rice paddy pretty quickly. That was definitely a first for me, and I was surprised to find out that the rice is actually at the top of the plant. For some reason I thought it was in the root buried underneath the mud. You learn something every day! I’m pretty sure my co-teacher thought I was quite silly for being so excited about seeing a rice paddy.
It is just so peaceful in the countryside. No flashy colors with a natural setting… absolutely gorgeous. I spent so many hours just walking around and having a think. It was a great way to reflect and end my day. Now that I’ve returned home, I miss that time so much. I really appreciated the Japanese way of preserving nature and fostering plants in their yards and all around them. I wish I could have that here!
What do you think? Do you prefer the bustle of the city or the more quieter countryside?