Life in Seika, Japan

Howdy there! My name is Kai and I am the Coordinator for International Relations in Seika Town, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Hopefully by reading this blog you all will get a good picture of what life is like in Seika town, and all the great things that happen down here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

First Impressions of Seika

I’ve been in Seika for about 3 weeks now and I’ve been pretty preoccupied by setting up my apartment and getting accustomed to my new job. So far I really haven’t had much time to explore the town or meet that many people, but it seems that everywhere I go people seem to know exactly who I am! The first few projects that I did as the new Coordinator for International Relations was to write an introductory article about myself for the town newsletter, get interviewed by a local newspaper, and give a short speech in front of the town council meeting that was apparently televised. So even though I don’t know many people around town lots of people have read all about me and recognize my face from the pictures in the papers. Wow, this is a completely new experience for me!

Having lived in big cities like San Francisco and Tokyo and never having had even one minute of fame, I am used to a life of complete anonymity. I don’t know if any of you have ever had this experience but it is strange to be recognized by people I have never even met before. In a small town like Seika I feel like a celebrity. At first it was alarming to hear that people actually read the articles I wrote and saw my pictures in the paper, but now I am starting to see how close of a community I live in and that I actually have a position that people take notice of.

So this is the Japan I always heard of: Not the glitzy buzzing frenzy that is Tokyo, but the small town where people know each other and actually say hi on the streets when they pass. Everywhere I go people are friendly and are happy to help if I have what seems like a random and possibly stupid question. For example, I actually stopped a women in the market to ask which was the best type of rice to buy. She seemed pleased to take 5 minutes to explain to me all the different types of rice and how to prepare them. Also it seems like it may be impossible to actually pay for a meal when I go out as I always end up having a lively conversation with an unknown person sitting close by who ends up treating me to my meal. These are things that I heard happened in Japan but never actually experienced having lived in Tokyo for a year.

Seika Town seems to represent the essence of small town Japanese life and is truly a great place to live. Now I am really starting to see why my predecessor said that I was lucky to have gotten a job in this town.