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Thread: Rural placements

  1. #1
    VIP Nell's Avatar
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    Default Rural placements

    I've just been placed in Fukaura-machi (population 9,000) in Aomori-ken, and after my initial excitement, the realisation of just how rural this place is has started to sink in... I really want to keep an open mind about this but the nearest city is about 2 hours away and the town itself seems pretty dead. I was just wondering what other JETs' experiences of living in rural areas are like? I know not everyone gets amazing placements but I'm worried about being so isolated for such a long time, and the climate might just make it that bit more depressing!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Rural placements

    Your nearest city is only an hour away (Noshiro in Akita). There are young people there who also throw parties (Night Groove, they call it). Your area isn't "dead" either. It's very scenic with lots to do. You are placed next to a UNESCO World Heritage site. Try not to worry and give it a chance!

  3. #3
    VIP Nell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    Ahh i hadn't thought about Akita! I've just found a good website about it which has way more information than i found before i am trying to give it a chance which is why i was interested in hearing about other rural placements. You have cheered me up anyway! Haha

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  4. #4

    Default Re: Rural placements

    I'm in a town of 5000 and I remember the horror I felt when I rode through it that first day, you're definitely not alone in your misgivings. My biggest tip is to get involved in something in your area (you may have to go to another town but if you can find it in your own that's even better), I joined my town's dance team and it was a great way to fill a couple nights and also see the area when we would travel to festivals. It might seem like there's nothing around and even people at your school or BOE might not know (they're probably not from your town anyway), just keep asking! Lots of ALTs in my area do something: basketball team, archery, orchestras, taiko groups, etc.

    I also recommend using some of your free time to hone a skill that you've always wanted to learn, I know plenty of ALTs that have picked up things like crafts, cooking, weight lifting, and so on. JET can be a good chance to work on "you" in your spare time (of which you may have more than a city JET).

    I love being a rural jet, it has it drawbacks in the fact that everyone knows the ALT's business and I can't buy most things I want without going to the city BUT the communities are so kind that it more than makes up for it, imo. It's not easy at first and it does get lonely but that's more of a hindsight reflection, I don't really remember feeling sad or isolated, there was too much to take in to worry about it then!

  5. #5
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    I was in a town of fewer than 2000. I was thrilled, because I'd been looking for an ultra-rural placement. As Page said, I came to understand the negative aspects of the inaka... but I loved my placement and had a fantastic time there. I'm in a slightly larger city now, although most folks would still consider it pretty rural (the local ALTs all do; to me, it feels like the big city in comparison to the last few years).

    Don't stress too much. Get a credit card ASAP to buy things on Amazon; where folks in cities might hit Costco, you can get anything and everything delivered the next day.
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    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

  6. #6
    disobedient avocado Lianwen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    I know where you are (and probably your pred, actually). But, while you're on the other side of the ~ken, I've heard it's lovely. Just don't isolate yourself, and you'll be fine. The winter sucks here, but it does have it's moments of awesomeness (like, ooooh, everything's pretty and white!!!) and if you drive, I think you're actually close to a beach. You can also easily get to either Akita or Hirosaki, and the latter has a ton of JET events for the prefecture!!!
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    VIP Nell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    Thank you all so much, I am definitely feeling a lot more positive now! I think the main thing that bothered me was the thought that it would be difficult to get out and about, but hopefully if I can get a car it'll make it easier. Yeah it must be really nice to be such a part of the community, that was one of the things I was looking forward to if I did get a rural placement. Thanks for the reassurance!

  8. #8
    Junior Member wasao's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    Stumbled across your post and thought I'd make an account since I currently live in the area and can share some pertinent information.

    Fukaura looks isolated on the map, but assuming your living situation is the same as your predecessor's, you'll be living towards the northern edge of town (which is about half an hour from Fukaura proper and some 40 miles from the Akita border).

    This'll put you well within striking distance of civilization, as you'll be less than an hour away from Hirosaki (not quite Tokyo, but a reasonably lively and interesting city in its own right), and Goshogawara (which has a nice mall with a Starbucks and one of Japan's best festivals Tachi Neputa Festival in Goshogawara City | Aomori-mori). Oh, and you will also be right down the road from Japan's #1 celebrity dog! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1ucmVzPiMk

    Your nearest JET neighbor will be about 15 minutes away in Ajigasawa, and there are several other JETs sprinkled throughout other nearby towns. There will be a bunch of newbies arriving in the area this summer, so you'll definitely have people to explore with!
    As far as rural placements go, it's a pretty good one!

    I'll leave it to your pred and future coworkers to give you the full rundown, but thought I'd share a little bit to allay your concerns and tide you over until they get the green light to contact you

  9. #9
    VIP Nell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    Quote Originally Posted by wasao View Post
    Stumbled across your post and thought I'd make an account since I currently live in the area and can share some pertinent information.

    Fukaura looks isolated on the map, but assuming your living situation is the same as your predecessor's, you'll be living towards the northern edge of town (which is about half an hour from Fukaura proper and some 40 miles from the Akita border).

    This'll put you well within striking distance of civilization, as you'll be less than an hour away from Hirosaki (not quite Tokyo, but a reasonably lively and interesting city in its own right), and Goshogawara (which has a nice mall with a Starbucks and one of Japan's best festivals Tachi Neputa Festival in Goshogawara City | Aomori-mori). Oh, and you will also be right down the road from Japan's #1 celebrity dog! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1ucmVzPiMk

    Your nearest JET neighbor will be about 15 minutes away in Ajigasawa, and there are several other JETs sprinkled throughout other nearby towns. There will be a bunch of newbies arriving in the area this summer, so you'll definitely have people to explore with!
    As far as rural placements go, it's a pretty good one!

    I'll leave it to your pred and future coworkers to give you the full rundown, but thought I'd share a little bit to allay your concerns and tide you over until they get the green light to contact you
    Wasao, thank you!! It's really nice to hear so much positivity about the area and it's grown on me significantly since yesterday! Hirosaki looks like an awesome city, so I'll definitely be making regular trips there. I'm stoked cos I love apples and I've heard they are pretty big in this part of the country...
    Would you advise getting a car or are the transport links alright for getting around the area?

  10. #10
    Senior Member par92186's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    So in some of your opinions, which is the most rural prefecture for ALTs to be placed? I'll be living somewhere in Shizuoka-ken, so I'm a bit curious.


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  11. #11
    Comrade therealwindycity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    It's not really so much about the prefecture as it is relative distance to big cities. Tottori and Shimane, for example, while the least populous prefectures in Japan, both contain large-ish urban areas near which quite a few of the ALTs end up living and are pretty easy to get around. On the other hand, I've met ALTs who geographically aren't very far away from big cities, but toll roads and lack of direct train lines mean they have to take crazy roundabout 4-hour trips anytime they want to get away from home. ALT density can also vary a lot, and it really just depends on where in the prefecture you end up.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Rural placements

    Yeah the prefecture itself isn't an indicator of how rural a placement it is. Parts of Kyoto are a 3 hour drive from Kyoto city. Prefectures like Gifu, Mie and Shiga are viewed as rural but have large areas that act as suburbs of the big cities in Kansai / Chubu.
    Last edited by mrcharisma; May 26th, 2014 at 00:16.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Rural placements

    Shiga is great - it has good JR up both sides of Biwa (including the Shinkansen stop in Maibara) and there isn't a lack of shopping/things to do like in most inaka areas. Its pretty convenient to Kyoto/Osaka by train and car too.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Rural placements

    Odate had another famous dog, Hachiko. It's also not far from Hirosaki.

    As for rural placements, there's a technicality to be aware of. Some of you might be placed in "cities" with the lowest population you can have to be a city over a large stretch of land. Many areas have redrawn the lines of where the jurisdictions are. Your "city" might be a line drawn around multiple towns and villages.

    A couple years back on Official, people debated what rural meant. Some thought having hundreds of thousands of people was rural. Rice fields does not equate rural. Simply look at the population distribution and the definition of how many people it takes to be defined as a village, town, or city. I have a little general idea about cities. Small cities might have one McDonalds. Larger ones get Starbucks. Small towns rarely have those, in my experience. The really small towns might have one or two convenience stores. Having no convenience store nearby means you're pretty rural.

    Rural ALTs definitely get their own perks - usually fresh produce (maybe fish too). Knowing your community is a plus. Being in a city doesn't mean you'll instantly have tons of friends. Tokyo is known as a lonely place by those who have lived there before on their own. It's much harder to meet strangers there. If you put yourself out there and accept as many invitations as you can, winters shouldn't be too lonely. Joining a group activity like taiko or kendo is a good way to be with people too.

  15. #15
    Pimpin wenches aint easy BeckyJones's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    Living in Rural Japan is the best place if you want to become part of the community. The closer you are to the city, the more likely you will fall into an expat bubble. Never make good friends, and spend all your time searching for that "connection" that should come naturally.

    Also, in a year or two you will be speaking fluently... unlike all the fat weeaboos in Tokyo who have lived there for 10 years and can barely say "O ha yo"
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  16. #16
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    If you have a train station and a convenience store you are not rural
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  17. #17
    chill yo coop52's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    If you have stores that aren't also someone's house, you aren't rural.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Rural placements

    Quote Originally Posted by par92186 View Post
    So in some of your opinions, which is the most rural prefecture for ALTs to be placed? I'll be living somewhere in Shizuoka-ken, so I'm a bit curious.
    10 prefectures with the lowest population density (# of people/square km):

    47. Hokkaido (65.73)
    46. Iwate (86.01)
    45. Akita (92.37)
    44. Shimane (106.19)
    43. Kochi (106.75)
    42. Yamagata (124.55)
    41. Aomori (141.03)
    40. Fukushima (144.37)
    39. Miyazaki (146.20)
    38. Nagano (157.95)
    ...
    13. Shizuoka (481.88)
    1. Tokyo - Shinjuku (6,029.22)

    This measure gives you a decent idea of which prefectures have the most uninhabited/thinly populated land, but I would note that EVERY prefecture (including Tokyo) has "inaka" and "urban" areas. Without knowing the specifics of your placement it is hard to say one way or another.
    Last edited by kuzco; May 26th, 2014 at 09:51.

  19. #19
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rural placements

    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    If you have a train station and a convenience store you are not rural
    Quote Originally Posted by coop52 View Post
    If you have stores that aren't also someone's house, you aren't rural.
    word
    Quote Originally Posted by 00Bear00 View Post
    When I read your post I suddenly feel like I am so far away from being crazy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Rural placements

    I've seen many shops that are out of someone's house when I lived in Tokyo, and train stations in villages in Akita. I personally don't think those are markers of rural vs. urban life in Japan. Population density is the biggest factor, really. Businesses and trains tend to stick to higher density areas, but there are exceptions. This had previously turned into a competition of who is more rural than who on Official. If one person has 2 convenience stores and another has none, it doesn't mean the other isn't rural. The percentage of elderly can also factor into feeling rural as there might be fewer youth/people outdoors or people in your age range to make friends with. The number of schools per area can also show signs of how rural the place is.

    It's really a great experience in rural areas! Make good relationships with other ALTs when you come. You will want places to stay when you visit other hotel-less places!

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