I’ve now been in Tokyo for a week. Granted, I’m out in the suburbs in Kanagawa, but it’s still considered part of Tokyo. After a little research, I decided to move to this area because it seemed quiet, but had enough to do after work — the second part was not quite accurate; there are only a few restaurants here. To give you an idea of how far I am from central Tokyo, it takes about a half hour on the express commuter train to get to Shinjuku.
The first minor problem (aside from not speaking more than a few words of Japanese) is navigating the Tokyo Metro/commuter train system. It seems that unlike in NYC, I have to buy a different ticket when I change train lines — but that could be that I’m switching between JR lines, Metro lines, and commuter lines. It’s also not that easy to figure out where to connect to certain lines that I want to take–I’ll probably figure that out next weekend during further exploration outside of the Odakyu line on which I live.
I have found some friendly little restaurants nearby, including a cool little coffee shop. I happened to stop in for some sake on movie night and the owner apologized for not showing an English movie (it was in Hindi with Japanese subtitles and I still understood what was going on).
During my sort-of lunch breaks from work, I’ve been walking around the neighborhood in search of anything interesting. So far, I have come across some nice houses with beautiful gardens, a few small parks, and a canal that runs through town.
I also discovered that just a short walk away is a nature trail leading to a Buddhist temple.
I should thank Google Maps for having some useful symbols online to locate things in my neighborhood. I only knew that there was a temple or shrine up this road — I didn’t realize what kind of trail it was or how large the temple would be, but it was worth taking a 45 minute walk away from work no matter what I would find.
The walk was quiet, and I was surprised how quiet it got as I walked away from the street. After a while, I wondered how far the trail continued and whether I was on the right path to the temple. Fortunately, the temple was right there in front of me.
I hoped that someone would be at the temple, but I met no one. It was peaceful, but I have no idea what I stumbled upon without knowing Japanese.
I did find the temple bell. There was no way I was going to ring it as a huge spider web was in the way. More importantly, the spider in the web was rather large and didn’t look too friendly (I have no idea if Japan has venomous spiders, and I really don’t want to find out the hard way).
If I was here strictly on vacation, I would’ve never ventured up this trail in search of a temple — this is the advantage of long-term travel and living as a semi-expat.