Walk in Japan, Relocating in Exchange for Good Stuffs

– Chion 2022-03 No. 228

In Japan, new year starts in April, and it becomes a busy season of moving at or around cherry blossom, for students and families moving due to job changes. After the pandemic, and first time since the establishment of Tokyo, the general population shows a negative growth – moving in is less than moving out. Drastic changes have been observed in the pattern of living within these two years. Moving is no longer caused solely by changes in external factors, rather a new realization from deep within. This resembles the saying “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” (Mathew 16:26). Even though these changes are not caused by knowing our creator God, people have already sensed that gaining the world is no longer indispensable, it is possible to choose an alternate but beneficial lifestyle.

While physical isolation is going on globally, many Japanese experience working at home first time in their life, a lifestyle that has been commonplace in Europe and America for a while. Fixing lunch every morning, traffic jam, squeezing onto public transportation, lining up for elevator, being a refugee for lunch, dragging on with extra work hours, etc., the kind of hateful daily routine has suddenly disappeared for good reason. Being able to stay home more, men suddenly have time to witness the growing up of their childre; women suddenly able to see their other halves at work real time; children have opportunity to befriend their stranger fathers; for those living by self, life is still boring; and for elderlies, they are able to take care of things on line without ever leaving home.

Now that everyone has experienced a better alternative lifestyle!

The Yokoyama’s, white collar management class, made a move/relocation from Tokyo to Odawara City in the winter of 2020, a one and half hour train ride from Tokyo. During the pandemic, Mr. Yokoyama took the opportunity to build an online consultation firm while his wife started working remote. The couple was very happy with the change just to avoid daily commuting. And as their child grows, the metropolitan area does not seem to offer much green space for their 3 years old to play while the hefty rental becomes increasingly stressful. With the ongoing change in work style, suddenly there is no reason to stay in Tokyo. They have therefore made the decision to move after the relocation.

Yusuke, who is single, experienced the closure of borders after moving back to Odawara City to set up musical homestay business, has now transformed himself to be a guide for the local tour as well as domestic migrants. Under the situation of zero foreign tourism, the confused Yusuke also started seeking alternative business models – selling potato, order to go service, and even renting noon nap spaces on boats. Having been able to partner with the 60 some homestay residents and comrades, and stirring up their hometown passion, Yusuke was able to make some creative movies, to promote biking, to promote packaged safe mini-tours that include street goodies tour, beach picnic, etc. In addition, he is promoting a 3 days 2 night relocating home experience. And within half year, 40% of the 50 participants has decided to move in permanently. Nowadays, it is interesting to see Yusuke running into new migrants extending help to exchange information, similar to receiving new commands in electronic games… this prompts Yusuke to explore his next opportunity. Certainly, he can improve on the manual of relocating home experience, or improve on travel activities, etc. And more than that, this is a richer than imagined home coming for Yusuke.

For people who ponder about moving, family is always the focus of consideration, wanting better natural environment for schooling children. And for people who has job, this is usually considered a turning point in exchange of already stressful work environment. Lately, college students are able to attend virtual class, this has injected new thinking to young minds, to consider alternatives after graduating. After all, there are plenty opportunities in small town settings. Mr. Tojo, a new migrant himself, has proposed a monthly interaction between students in major cities with local people, this idea was well received. Tojo was surprised that people would treat him as local within half year, to represent their small cities in receiving outside students, and networking among new comers. Tojo is a good example of win-win migrant, who is able to partner with small cities in such a short time.

In general, Japanese avoid moving, moving means discarding a lot of old stuffs. People take pride in their tradition, tend to hold on to things/skills passed from their ancestors for hundreds of years. Changing in thinking or life style on his own is far and few. Yet with the popular utilization of internet, contact has been broadened, and in addition to novel experience enforced by the pandemic, people start making new routes of thinking. Things that used to be indispensable for survival become dispensable when judged from a different angle, after all insisting on no changes can mean more loss.

If you want to grab something better for your life, you need to empty your hands first.