When Judy and I arrived in Moroyama in mid-March, it was still more winter than spring. All the trees lining the roads were bare and the colors were drab. “This isn’t what I remember at all.” I thought, vaguely recalling my brief visit here three years ago. It was with much delight, then that we saw spring begin to bud out in April and May!
We have been bewildered by people calling this area “rural.” We live in what I would suppose is “downtown” Moroyama. City Hall is just a few blocks away. Since most of our transportation consists of feet, bikes, and trains, we haven’t explored our own town very far afield of our usual routes to the church and the grocery stores. However, whenever our friends have taken us anywhere in their cars, we’ve gotten a good view of the “rural” nature of our town after all. A few minutes from our house by car, and we begin to see groves of plum trees, large vegetable gardens, and rice paddies. There are some wonderful views of the mountains, too.
I don’t come from a big city in America, just a small to middle-sized one. Maybe six or seven times a year I would see people I knew while out and about around town. Not so here in Moroyama! In the three months we’ve lived here, I’ve seen people I know at the store or crossing the street almost every week! Perhaps this is in part because so many people walk and bike everywhere; it’s easiest to go to the nearest supermarket, convenience store, etc., so we are much more likely to see one another. This takes some getting used to, actually. Yesterday we saw the mother of one of my students at the store and she caught me totally off guard by asking me questions about the class schedule. Not only was it hard to tell her the answers (I had NOT anticipated having to speak much Japanese that day), I kept dropping things. I simply wasn’t in “teacher” mode and had difficulty switching out of “sleepy day off.” Oh well. She seemed more amused than anything.