Thursday, March 24, 2011

Everyday life near Amagatsuji station, Japan, a decade ago

Unbelievably to me, it's ten years this year since I threw in my "good job" at the university, sold off most of my belongings in a garage sale and flew up to Japan to teach (for the first time in my life) English as a foreign language. And so began one of the most fantastic experiences of my life (at least I can say it's only eight years since I left. A whole decade seems far too long!).

I often - very often - reminisce with great affection about my life in Japan. As a foreigner, you are treated with special privileges and respect - especially if you are a teacher. During the first year I lived in eastern Osaka, before moving out "to the country" near a small train station named Amagatsuji a short ride away from the city of Nara (and in Nara Prefecture). It was at Amagatsuji that I felt most "Japanese", and I wanted to share a few pictures from my everyday life out there.

Amagatsuji train station
To start off, here's the train station where I left every morning and came back every evening. It was a small local stop - so only the slowest trains stopped here - and I never, ever saw other foreigners here - for me, that was part of the thrill of living there and one reason why it felt more "Japanese".

Isokawa supermarket
Conveniently located along the short walk between the train station and my apartment, the Isokawa supermarket had everything I needed (and an awful lot of bicycles in the front!). It also had an old tape recorder sitting on one of the shelves playing what I called "the fish song" over and over and OVER again. The only lyrics I remember are "Sakana, sakana, sakana" (fish, fish, fish!) and it was rather irritating and never led me to buy fish. But polite as the Japanese are, not once did somebody hit stop on the tape player.

Amagatsuji Post Office
If you're a relative or an old friend of mine, and you received something from me while I lived in Japan, the chances are high that I sent it from this post office. They didn't speak any English (to my knowledge) so I was proud to get by in Japanese. I'm not sure they had much experience posting mail to Australia from here!

Rice field next to my apartment
And lastly, the real reason I felt like living here was so "Japanese" - there was a rice field adjacent to my apartment. This, in fact, was the view as I looked slightly to the left from my front door. It sure looked like back-breaking work but I always enjoyed the greenery of it.

It's certainly a trip down memory lane for me to dig out my old pictures, but I'm also curious if there's anyone out there who knows the area and can tell me if it's changed much over the years. Do let me know in the comments!

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