I’m totally bitten by the travel bug. I want to go everywhere! There is something amazing about transporting yourself to a totally new place where you are surrounded by sights and sounds that are so different than what you are used to. Those first days in a new place are truly magical. When I got to Okayama, I had the same feeling. It was almost overwhelming to be in Japan for the first time.
Of course, I didn’t waste time exploring my surroundings. The principal of my school loaned me one of her husband’s bicycles and I was ready and raring to go! I still remember the feeling of gliding down the tiny streets around my apartment on that bike… everything was exciting and there was so much to look forward to in the next three months. It was exhilarating.
I hadn’t really done much research on Okayama before I came, which is weird for me. I was so busy finishing up my preschool student teaching and submitting all of my papers that I just didn’t have time to check anything out. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked when I first got to Okayama. All of my ideas about Japan were pretty much centered around Tokyo and some of the more bigger cities in Japan. Okayama definitely had a different vibe. The airport is kind of in the middle of nowhere, so when I landed it looked like I was in the wilderness!
Okayama is definitely not Tokyo, filled with bright lights and huge buildings. It’s a very laid back city with a small town vibe, even though it’s actually a large city to me. Thinking back on it now, I’m so embarrassed! I had a very stereotypical view of what Japan would be. I remember sitting in the back of the principal’s car as she drove me to my apartment and thinking to myself, “Where are all the bright lights?” Sigh.
One of the things that used to crack me up is that were so many signs downtown that told you that you could not park your bike in that area… and it would be surrounded by bikes. Not a few bikes… tons. Talk about sticking it to the man! It didn’t seem like anyone cared and I never saw the police enforcing the rules. Actually, I only remember seeing a police car once while in Okayama. :S
A lot of residential buildings in Okayama are actually pretty bland in the sense that they use a lot of neutral colors that are very natural. My apartment building was a mix of boring greys and used a ton of metal. The businesses did use a lot of flashy colors and signs, but it was nowhere near the level that I had in mind. It’s on a much smaller scale, but still gives you a taste of what is in store in some of the bigger cities. Even downtown had so many trees and flowers. So clean!
Q: Are you bitten by the travel bug like me with Okayama? What is the vibe of the city you live in?
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