Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neighborhood Nagao

 My neighborhood for the next year in Japan is in Nagao, a part of Hirakata City.  My first impressions of Japan were of the conveniences of its railways and buses, and as luck would have it I am located not even a five minutes' walk from Nagao Station.  Unlike the Hirakata City Station or the Kuzuha Station, which I have visited often in the past few weeks, Nagao Station is much smaller and does not have nearly as many shopping centers that the larger stations have.  Even still, having a train station so close by makes any traveling I do outside of Hirakata very convenient!

Nagao Station (seen from my host family's 10th floor apartment)
However, my neighborhood is not just the train station.  I live in an apartment building, which in contrast to living in a house gives me a greater chance of speaking with my neighbors, since I share elevator rides with them daily.  My host brother's friends also sometimes drop by our apartment to play, which has also given me a fun chance to interact with my neighbors.

One thing that has been a huge help in getting to know the area is the fact that my host mother was raised here and knows much more about the area than I could ever learn a guidebook (although I doubt there is any mention of Nagao in any Japan guidebook…).  For example, last week my host mother and I went to a small, tanuki-themed restaurant located on a street off of the main road leading to the train station, a place I don't think I would have gone to had I been exploring the area myself.  In fact, my host mother said that she has been coming to this restaurant since she was a little girl, which adds so much more meaning to visiting the restaurant besides its incredibly delicious chahan!

In contrast to the large, modern apartment I live in are the numerous temples and shrines in the area.  Right next door to the apartment building is a small temple, and a bit further down the street is a larger, more secluded temple filled with statues, from actual Buddhist-related statues you would expect to see at a temple to statues of Astro Boy and Pikachu.  One thing that I loved about this temple is that despite the fact that it is right next to the station, it is still isolated from the city.  In fact, although I passed many people on the street before entering the temple, I did not encounter a single other person in the temple, something I didn't expect in my busy corner of Nagao.

I still have more exploring to do around Nagao, since I have been spending quite a lot of time at the other stations around Kansai Gaidai, but hopefully with the help of my host family I'll be able to learn more about my neighborhood, my home for the next year.


1 comment:

  1. Very nice descriptions of the area and institutions in your neighborhood. I am glad you are exploring and benefiting from the knowledge of your host family. You included some nice photos as well. I can tell you will continue to learn a lot through your experiences here.