In Japan, some people leave their cars unattended with their engines on while they run into a shop, yet others lock their cars and use alarm systems. Some people hang out at home with a door open, to let in the summer breeze while others have bars over the windows. Perhaps the same house has the bars over the windows and an open door!
For me, the best security measure is to make friends with the neighbours. I wasn't able to successfully do this in Japan until I became a housewife and mother, and started to regularly hang out in the parking area and take my child for walks around the block. Those working full time have the biggest challenge to make neighborhood ties, unless they happen to be home owners, thus belonging to a neighborhood association.
The other day, a neighbor who has become a good friend alerted me that there was a thief disguised as a repairman in our neighborhood. I think the elderly homeowners in my neighborhood are a much more likely target than myself, nevertheless she warned me not to open the door without checking the monitor first to see if I know the person.
When she told me this, I recalled an incident that had occurred a month previously, that had made me feel insecure. I had run out into the street with my baby to ask the guy in a truck with a loud speaker collecting appliances and bicycles if he would take a ricemaker. He said "hai, hai" and followed me to my door. I said "Matte kudasai;" I had to get the rice maker out of the closet. He followed me in through my front door, and as I left to go to the other room, he stepped into my living room and asked if he could use the bathroom! "Chotto, sumimasen" I ushered him out again, pushing the rice maker at him. He had no ill intentions, just he lacked manners.
These things made me think: any wannabe attacker could gain access to my home by dressing up in a delivery suit. During the first few years in Japan, when I was working so much, I didn't even know what my Japan Post delivery person looked like. Now, I recognize my Japan Post delivery person, and at least one other delivery person. I encourage all you gal readers to make an effort to do the same.
As a woman who is often home alone, with only rudimentary Japanese, I think I ought to be wary but not so wary as not to open the door to receive my deliveries, not so wary as to keep my windows closed and locked all summer. If somebody wants to steal from or attack me, targeting me specifically, they will find a way, won't they?
Media in Japan, and gossip, can make people nervous about personal security, but I'd rather not pay much heed to fear-mongering and enjoy my life here, taking some risks, but not letting down my guard completely.