(not quite a) Year in Japan

Looking back at life in Tsumagoi (嬬恋)

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So I guess this post will be a bit of a retrospective list of fun/interesting stuff that I encountered in my 2 months in 嬬恋.

And I mentioned previously that I was staying in Tsumagoi (嬬恋), and whilst technically true, we were very much on the outskirts (where all the holiday homes etc. are). So occasionally we would venture into the village-proper for events and whatnot.

One such event was the local festival – which was very small in scale but still pretty neat to see.


This was the like the opening ceremony I guess, and with it being a predominantly farming (cabbages!) village, it was held in September – so more of a harvest festival than anything else.

Also, a few days after there was a really cool fireworks festival – 花火大会! Of which I have zero photos because my phone simply couldn’t cope with the very dark/very light contrast well at all. But I can assure you that it was absolutely delightful – set in a small village, amongst mountains made for a gorgeous backdrop for what (for me at least) was a nice farewell to Tsumagoi.

Anyway, enough waffle, here’s a list of random observations/happenings I kept track of on my phone whilst there – most of them are more ‘me-specific’ rather than anything to do with Tsumagoi, but whatever, read if you want to 🙂

– Trying to explain in Japanese how Windows changed from Windows 95 to Windows 98 and Windows 98 2nd Ed. specifically around USB support (painful!!).
– Pretty sure on that one night that I couldn’t sleep there was a bear or some other large animal outside my room at like 1am, pawing at the windows.
– Then there actually was a bear but I missed it because it occurred just after we’d left for work – police were called and everything.
– Bugs just in general. Man I do not miss that.
– Everyone I spoke to outside of folks running this farm and the volunteers, asked “where are you from?” as their opening gambit, fair enough I guess – white folks are pretty rare in these parts.
– Riding in the back of a truck in torrential rain.
– going to cut a cabbage and having it disintegrate in your hands because it was so thoroughly rotten, bleh.
– Ridiculously good home cooking…every day.
– Teaching English to several very awesome (and very patient) people.
– That guy I worked with for a week who barely said anything other than “thanks” or “ok”. Oh shit, I don’t even know his name. eep.
– Driving a tractor.
– That one time I was driving the tractor, fully loaded with several hundred cabbages and I unintentionally pulled a wheelie – absolutely terrifying.
– The feeling of a shower after 12+ hours of work.
– Getting up at 4:30am…like almost every day for 2 months.
– Having to contain my jubilation after hearing that “the rain’s too heavy, looks like today’s a day-off”.
– Being called ‘onii-chan’ or ‘senpai’ – too weird, I said just call me David (デイビッド).
– When it got cold (~10c) for a few days, and having nabe (hot pot) for dinner was just the best thing.
– Arm muscles (which I believe is the technical term)…that, aside from lugging around my suitcase, I intend to never use again
– Telling every newbie about the (lack of) local attractions, and seeing their expression at the news was always pretty fun.
– Of all the “do you have x in England” questions, being asked “are there black people in England” was pretty funny.
– Thoroughly shattering everyone’s image of England, both through me being me (sorry!), and explaining we don’t all walk around a foggy London with bowler hats, umbrellas and suitcases.


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