Ancient Neighborhood, Traditional Customs (古代地域と伝統習慣)

My great grandmother Matsue moved to this neighborhood over 100 years ago and birthed and raised my father’s mother, who birthed and raised my father in this neighborhood. They were some of the first settlers in this area in 1920 when my grandmother Midori was born. My sister and I were born and raised here also and I left for the US when I was a junior in high school to begin my new adventure.


I have never appreciated this neighborhood as much as I do now. For as long as I have known, the neighborhood had a neighborhood association like HOA where the residents communicate via a bulletin board (yes, it is still the “physical” flyers and lists). Currently, I don’t know the existence of an app like Nextdoor in the US, which could potential be very useful here. The first thing I noticed in the neighborhood that was addressed in a very organized manner was the trash management. Unlike what I was used to in the US, it was more than two categories of trash (general and recyclable) but there are several categories in the recyclable itself. There are pet bottles (plastic bottles with no lid as lids go into another category), cans, glass bottles, cardboards, newspapers, other papers and flyers, clothing, and food packages/labels/pet bottle lids, all separated and collected on different days. Talk about being organized inside and outside the home!


Mom and Ms. Yoshioka (母と吉岡さん)

The next thing I noticed is the people who have been here in my neighborhood for decades. Ms. Yoshioka has been here since I was 2. She is 85 and her husband is 88. She takes care of her husband who has had dementia for the last 8 years, full time. She is the neighborhood “den mother”, who likes to be a bit nosey but with good intentions. She has practically become one of our family members, very aware of what is happening in each of our lives. She also loves playing with our kids and Himeko and join our parties that we have on the street in front of our houses. She always brings her own drinks and a few dishes to the parties and loves to share fruits and veggies or whatever she may have extra at hand. She is definitely a neighborhood gem.


When we first moved here in April, we were technically “quarantined” in our house for two weeks. As soon as the home arrest period ended, we went around our neighbors on our block to introduce ourselves and took them each a little gift of okashi (rice cracker treats), which my mother had purchased beforehand. This has been the ritual for the neighborhood and probably any neighborhood in Japan (at least in the old neighborhoods). It’s certainly good to know the names and faces of the neighbors for safety and comfort reasons.


My house and my sister’s house side by side (我が家と妹の家が隣同士)

This neighborhood along with many old neighborhoods in the city and more in the country side, has been dealing with issues with vacant homes as the population has been declining since 1990’s and people have been purchasing new houses. Home renovation and remodeling is not as popular here in Japan and it is the area that needs more attention and funding to combat this issue. The land values have been increasing in the area where I live due to the proximity to all things business and entertainment. I am also interested in this area of revitalizing the neighborhoods that are starting to deteriorate due to the increase of vacant homes. But first, working on getting to know my neighbors and surrounding neighborhoods give me plenty of things to do.


One thought on “Ancient Neighborhood, Traditional Customs (古代地域と伝統習慣)

  1. It is a wonderful feeling to have neighbors in a neighborhood. Nothing could be better than to have family and the history of the area. You are fortunate 💓


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