Jul 5, 2018
We have been blessed with our neighbors here in Japan. I have written before how my children are able to grow up the way I did thanks to the type of neighborhood we live in. Kids play out on the street the way I did as a child. Neighbors let them run in and out of gardens, kick balls against their walls, and complain little when the noise levels are loud enough to rival a concert crowd at Saitama Super Arena.
The level of community goes beyond this tolerance of loud and raucous children. Way beyond. We can count on our neighbors for help and assistance in times of need and trouble. When the snow comes we all band together to clear passage for pedestrians and cars alike. If the electricity goes out someone will come round to make sure you have a torch or some form of light. We have an informal neighborhood watch, who have honed their surveillance techniques. A local PA system warns not only of inclement weather conditions, but also any suspicious activity in the neighborhood. Said PA also alerts us to keep an eye out for any reported lost children or senior citizens with memory issues who have wandered off unsupervised.
There is a strong sense of both safety and community in our neighborhood. But what I love more than all of that is the kindness and common courtesy between many of our town's inhabitants. It is not uncommon for us to come home to freshly plucked fruit and vegetables on our doorstep, often anonymously to save us the burden of the "okaeshi" return gift for such kindness. If a neighbor goes on a trip, they often drop in after to gift us a token of their travels. If they receive a large gift of food from someone else, they will pass some on, explaining they don't want to waste the gift they've gotten. My children have been clothed by neighbors (and friends) and likewise I pass down my children's clothes and toys to families with younger children in the neighborhood.
But what made me think of the lyrics in the title "Neighbors everybody needs good neighbors" (from the Australian soap Neighbors), is the encounter I had today. As I walked some of the neighborhood kids to their afternoon play locations, one of my favorite neighbors, who lives about 500 meters from my house, came out to greet me. He was on the look out because he had something he wanted to give another lady he knew to see, but didn't know by name. The lady he wanted to talk to is relatively new to the neighborhood, but he had seen me talk to her. He had noticed that she walks the kids home from school each day. So he had gone to the local town hall to request some high vis vests and a cap with "patrol" written on them to give to her and some others (myself included!).
By a lucky twist of fate both she and I were walking outside his house at the same time. I greeted them simultaneously and we got into a chat. It thus transpired that he had wanted to give us both the high vis items for what we do in the neighborhood. Together we received his thoughtful gift. And I once again thanked my lucky stars for good neighbors.
Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.