The Troubles of Living in Rural-ish Japan sans Driver’s License

Hey, would you look at that! A second post in the space of a week!

Clearly, I’m procrastinating something other than this blog.

But that’s beside the point, really―I’m writing another blog post! Please be proud of me.

Autumn (or fall, for all you Americans out there) is finally here in Fukui, and I couldn’t be more excited. The leaves are now a mix of green, yellow, orange, and red, and every street corner suddenly seems infinitely more photogenic than normal. It’s a wonderful time.

Despite living in a somewhat rural area of Japan (read: small city with sparse public transport), I don’t have my driver’s license. Right before I moved to Fukui, I was living in Melbourne, Australia where I could more or less get away without ever needing to drive, thus I never bothered to actually get my drivers license. When I applied for the JET Programme, I assumed that I would end up somewhere that I could get by without needing a driver’s license, and in my situation that is true… to an extent.

The thing with Fukui Prefecture is that a lot of the most beautiful nature spots aren’t all that easy to access via public transport. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to take a train and transfer on to a bus to get you close to your destination, but more often than not, the destination will be a fair walk away from your stop and the train and bus lines will only come once an hour. Again, that’s if you’re lucky―some buses only make stops once every three hours! So, you can see my pickle here.

Having grown up in a tropical climate back home in Australia, autumn in Japan has to be my favourite season. (Yes, I am completely aware that this is a very Basic White Girl™ opinion of me to have, but I can’t deny the truth of the matter.) So, naturally when autumn comes around and the leaves start changing, all I want to do is get out and take it all in, but I’m limited to my close surroundings because I can’t drive and public transportation is abysmal. It’s fan-freaking-tastic.

Clearly, hindsight is a real bitch and I’m kicking myself for not getting my driver’s license like I told myself I would when I was in university. Or maybe I should just make more friends with people who can drive. Fukui does have the highest ratio of cars per housefold in all of Japan, after all.

Until then, enjoy my Instagram feed which is essentially just photos of the same five places taken from different angles, normally on my way to or from work.

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Wandering Around Tokyo

Long time no see… would be a bit of an understatement. I would make some sort of an excuse, but I don’t really have one, so let’s just get on with it!

Recently I went to Tokyo for the first time in almost a year. For those of you who don’t know (which is basically anyone reading this, let’s be real), I live in Fukui which is in central Japan. It takes about eight hours to get to Tokyo by bus (half that by shinkansen, if you have the money to spare), so naturally I find myself in Osaka and Kyoto far more often than the Easter Capital. I just don’t have all that much reason to go all the way to Tokyo 99% of the time.

So, clearly this trip was the rare, one percent.

A group of friends I met when I was on exchange decided we were well past due for a reunion. With me here in Fukui, another north in Yamagata, and the third living just south of Tokyo, it was basically a given that it would be the setting for our gathering. I couldn’t think of a better reason to jump on the bus.

Knowing I’d have a lot of time to kill on the morning of my arrival, I decided that I would take my trusty DSLR so I could take some pictures of the big city while I waited for my friends to get in to town. Admittedly I was hoping that I would snap more pictures even after meeting up with them, but clearly that didn’t happen because I was too busy enjoying the company of my long-lost friends.

Also, it was raining, so we ended up staying in most of the time. Figures.

Anyway, here are some of the photos I managed to snap in Tokyo!

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The Phoenix Festival

One of the cornerstones of summer in Japan have to be the festivals. Throughout the warmer months, particularly during August once school holidays are in full swing, Japan is set alight by festivals and fireworks displays. There’s a buzz in the atmosphere as the locals come together, let loose, and enjoy the summer nights, eating, drinking, and playing.

The biggest festival in my current home of Fukui is the Phoenix Festival. Held over three days at the beginning of August, the Phoenix Festival is when Fukui truly comes alive not unlike a phoenix from the ashes, ha ha. The festival kicks off with a huge fireworks display along the Asuwa River, but the mainstay of the weekend of excitement was in the downtown area by Fukui Station. Food stalls, yosakoi dance competitions, and world beer stands were just a few of the things keeping the energy levels going through the weekend.

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An introduction of sorts

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always found it hard to start a blog without first writing an some sort of introductory post. It may seem odd, but I suppose I just feel the need to make a proper start when starting a blog.

I’ve started quite a few blogs over the years, only to abandon them completely and eventually start anew. It goes without saying that this particular blog may just be another part of the cycle, but given that I’ve bought a domain baring my name, I’m hoping that this will be the one that sticks.

So, I hope that you, person of the internet, will join me as I attempt to pursue my passions―photography, videography, and writing―and share them with the world. I can’t promise that I will post her regularly, especially since I also happen to do these things for my work, but I try to post when I can, even if it’s a seemingly meaningless ramble about life as an expat.

In the meantime, here’s the latest video I posted on YouTube: