26 November, 2013

Craving Space

We're going camping again on Thursday. It is our third annual end of November camp, during CAJ's Thanksgiving Break. We're sooo looking forward to it. The boys too! We're returning to the same campsite we used the last two years at this time, so we know what the facilities are like and the fun that is to be had.

One benefit to camping at this time of year is that you don't have insects or sunburn to worry about. The main challenge is the cold. Forecast is for sunny weather, with about 11°C  to 1°C. That's not too bad at all, if you're prepared.

There are many things to look forward to, but I think one of the deepest ones, for us adults anyway, is the space. We're small-town Aussies who just get tired of the squishiness of Tokyo. I realised this again while talking to a Japanese friend at the gym today. Her son has just returned from a working holiday in Australia and one of the things he loved about our home country was the space.

The view across the valley from the campsite at sunrise
Here are some examples of the squishiness of our daily life in Tokyo:

  • Walking to school the boys have no footpath most of the way. What they have is less than a metre strip on the side of the road if a car zooms by.
  • If I walk out my front door, I'm practically on the street. If it look out almost any window in our house I see another house within a few metres.
  • Our car and bikes are parked precisely. There is little room for error.
  • In winter we heat only the rooms we're using. So, on a weekend during the day that is mainly the lounge-dining-kitchen area. Therefore often we're all in there.
  • On Saturday we went to watch our youngest boy's elementary choir perform. I found my eldest son reluctant to leave at interval. He was gazing around the concert hall and said, "This is the largest room I've been in for quite a while!"
  • When I ride my bike through the city to the gym, I'm dodging pedestrians and bikes everywhere.
  • On the trains, you're usually shoulder-to-shoulder with someone else. Frequently you get pushed.
  • The gym is similarly crowded. You're usually exercising at all times within 1 m of someone else, and I time my visits there for the least crowded times.
  • Park golf course at the campsite
  • It's hard to ride your bike as fast as you'd like because you're always slowing down for other bikes, cars, pedestrians, and various obstacles.
That's just a few examples, not to whinge, but to give you an idea that, though we're fairly used to life here and content, we are keen to get out of the city when we can.

So, bring on the camping!


Ken Rolph said...

What people grow up with sets their expectations. I worked with a woman who had come to Sydney from Hong Kong. She lived there on the 17th floor of a tower block. In Sydney she and her husband bought a new house in an expanding outer suburb of Sydney. One day I dropped her home and she asked me in to look at what they had done with the house.

Their desks were in the bedroom, so that there was almost no room to move. They had built in a table to the kitchen and were not using the dining room. The lounge room had a large lounge and massive TV against the opposite wall. Nothing else. Towards the back of the house were 4 more room which were completely empty.

They didn't know what to do with such an amount of space.

Wendy said...

It's very true Ken. When we first moved into our spacious 4 bedroom house for our last home assignment, it was a bit shocking. I didn't know how to operate in such a large kitchen and once the boys were in bed at night at the very beginning we went and hid in our bedroom because it just was too big! We did adjust, though.