For the past year, we have been living in Nagoya, which is one of the largest cities in Japan. I've never been much of a city person and have always lived more in the countryside.
*cough* Idaho *cough* Kentucky *cough* North Shore Oahu
All verryyyy countryside places. I'm definitely more of an open fields, mountains in view, fresh air kinda girl, than a concrete jungle, busy nights, take the crowded train kinda girl.
But, it was quite an experience to try out I guess! And our little studio apartment in Anjo will always have a special place in my heart. I'll remember riding my bicycle to work 5km every day so I didn't have to take the train, learning how to cook, walking across the street to Sushi-ro every Sunday night, and so many more special memories of beginning my life in Japan. But now at least I know the city is not where I belong.
The view outside our apartment in Anjo
In July we moved to Matsumoto, Nagano. The reason was to be closer to family and friends, save money, and plan for our next steps in life, but also because Nagano feels more like home. Surrounded by mountains, with clear running rivers, cool air, and friendly faces, it's hard not to love this place.
Since coming to Matsumoto I've felt so much more relaxed and comfortable. We are able to go out on the weekends and do things that aren't eating out, or spending a ton of money. We can just head to the mountains or find a waterfall or go to a nice park. Life in the countryside is slow, but happy and relaxing. I often get told that I am a little bit slow and almost too chill and relaxed, so I've definitely felt a little bit more normal being in the countryside.
I've noticed that people here are more friendly, and willing to talk with you than in the bigger cities (isn't that how it always is). When I go to the convenience store and see the nice staff lady who is always smiling and talks slowly so I can understand her, or when I go to Starbucks and the barista talks to me in English and helps me order. It's so happy! I really enjoy these kind interactions with strangers.
When I first moved to Japan, I thought maybe people were just more friendly in America than in Japan, but I really think it was just the city vs the countryside. Because in America I only lived in smaller towns, where everyone would say hi and smile when you pass them on the street. And in Matsumoto, it's the same. I walk down the street and hear people passing say"Konnichiwa."
Anyways, while in Nagano I've also been able to have some suuuuper fun experiences, and see a whole other side of Japan. Before I ever came to Japan, I imagined a place with neon lights, big cities, and lots of anime and sushi. But, the countryside of Japan is such an amazing place, that I don't think gets enough recognition.
So, next time you're planning your trip to Japan, maybe try to see some lesser-known places, maybe come to Matsumoto! It's such a great experience and I highly recommend it to you!
Here's my blog post to help you plan a trip to Matsumoto: 5 Things to do In Matsumoto