Local Japan: Kasumigaseki, a Town we call “Love”
I am now living in Kasumigaseki, a modestly small town in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture. Coming to Kasumigaseki became my destiny from the day I received the announcement that I was accepted by Tokyo International University, my school right now. At first, I believed that I would live in the suburb of Tokyo; however, since I could commute easily to school if I lived in Kasumigaseki, I ended up living there. Since my daydream was challenged, I got three months to start falling in love with my place. Actually, I started realizing that Kasumigaseki was somehow more worth living than Tokyo or any bustling cities. Why? There were a lot more reasons than I had expected.
The first reason is the living expenses. Food, especially fruits are redundant with reasonable prices. Can you believe that I could buy 1 kilogram of tangerines with only 1000 yen? With only 2000 yen, I can make my stomach full in a week. The price could even go down if I was motivated enough to go Gyomu- the supermarket with frozen food, which is quite far from my home. I had heard that I could never be full when I lived in Japan since the food was really expensive; however, that rumor was not somehow right. Even when some of my friends went to supermarkets in the evening, the food could be sold off to 50% or even more. After 5 months living here, when I moved back to my country in the spring break, my parents did not even recognize me since I had gained 3 more kilograms since the day I went to Japan. Not only food but also clothes must be 2 times cheaper than those from Tokyo based stores and branches. This January, I and my friends found super warm jackets which were just around 900 yen per one. It was really glad to realize that I did not have to spend much money having a lush life here since I could still both spend less money on living expenses and enjoy my Japan life.
Secondly, the people who I called Kasumigaseki people made me fall in love with this place. My dorm manager is a lovely woman who never gives any complaint towards the dorm residents like me although we sometimes do horrible things such as not dividing trash types or not cleaning up after taking shower. She is not the only one that is incredibly kind here. Every worker in convenient stores, every security man, and every staff at my school are willing to help without any need to be repaid. They even say hello to me first; therefore, now it becomes my routine: I always say hello to anyone I meet even if they are strangers. Also, I believe that if I am in any harsh situation, Kasumigaseki people will help with all of their attempts. For example, one time, I and my friends got lost on the way from the Yaoko supermarket to our dorm. We did not have the Internet connection at that time to find the way back to our dorm so we ask a woman for help. Although it was getting dark, she still went with us to find the way. However, Google Map seemed not be able to find the address of our dorm; therefore, she had to call the police for help. She even waited with us until the police came. I will never stop appreciating her for her warm and dedicated action. It might be nothing to her, but everything to us. Thus, the most warm-hearted people I have ever met, I dare to say, are Kasumigaseki residents: they not only make my days with their warm actions but also change my thinking ways into positive ones. I also love how the little kids on their way home from the kindergarten said out loud: “Konnichiwaaaaa, oneesannnn!!!” when I smiled towards them. That moment truly melted my heart.
Besides, I cannot write about my place without describing how beautiful it is. Kasumigaseki is not less gorgeous than any place in Japan: we can see mountains far behind, endless fields, vintage houses, and canals anywhere. I dare to say that the most pleasant feeling ever, is to go out of my dorm on a windy day and take a walk along narrow streets in Kasumigaseki. I have never experienced any summer in Kasumigaseki; however, there is no word that can describe how beautiful it was in winters and springs. I still remember how excited I was on January 22rd, 2018 when I saw snow for the first time here. My seniors at my school even told me that this snowfall was the most wonderful one in Kasumigaseki, due to the fact that this year the temperature seemed to go down significantly. If snow made this place worth living for a long time, sakura season would make it worth living for a whole life. I came back here after spending the whole spring break in Vietnam and you know what: I was entirely impressed by how people called the most Japanese thing: cherry blossom. My Japan became more “kawaii” because of sakura trees since just looking at them made me comfortable. I could take a walk in the nearby park to see the sakura trees and wild drakes playing on the lake. I started being lost in daydreams: having a wedding day in Japan in the cherry blossom season. Someday.
In addition, although Kasumigaseki is far from Tokyo, it is near the center of Kawagoe – a city with the unique combination of vintage and modern decorations.High-rise buildings, temples, and long streets are well organized; thus, the city looks suitably harmonious. It is also very convenient there: Just go to Kawagoe and I can purchase any clothes, accessories or dishes I want with very fine prices. In Kawagoe, traditional festivals are held throughout a year in Koedo- a famous old town; therefore, in those events, Kawagoe is not less crowded than anywhere in Tokyo. Having the chance to explore Kawagoe once a week, I really appreciate that I am living in Kasumigaseki since I can commute there easily.
The last reason why I love living here is that I have a peaceful and comfortable life that I always want to have. Every day I can go to school by my own bicycle without having to hustle in the midst of a press on Tobu Tojo trains. After that, I can go back home, go jogging and do my homework. On weekends I go to the supermarkets to buy food and if I have time, I will wander around to enjoying the peace of my town. Everything is absolutely amazing if you also pursuit a normal life like that. Even if you are in any trouble, people are still there to help you. The more comfortable I live here, the more I love this place and want all of you to truly comprehend my feelings towards Kasumigaseki.
I cannot declare which place is better: Kasumigaseki or my hometown – Ho Chi Minh city. I believe that each of them is worth living. However, there are some things that do not exist in Kasumigaseki and vice versa. For example, I love traditional food in Vietnam; nevertheless, it is rare (or sometimes very expensive) to eat Vietnamese traditional food in Kasumigaseki. In addition, I love commuting on my own motorbike but I cannot drive here. In Kasumigaseki; however, my life goes enjoyably since I mentioned, everything is so convenient and everyone is so helpful that I find no difficulty in daily activities. As I remembered, I spent just two weeks getting used to life here. If someone asks me where should he/ she go to enjoy an easy-going life, I will answer “Kasumigaseki” right away.
The town, still, has some disadvantages to me. As I have a part-time job in Tokyo, it will cost me a lots commuting by train. I still remembered one funny story about my nearest station: Kasumigaseki. When my friend in Tokyo asked me where my nearest station was, I answered Kasumigaseki and she said she knew that station. “That is a very big one”, she said, “and it is very easy for use to commute here (Tokyo) right?” I burst out laughing and tried to explain to her that my station was not Kasumigaseki in Tokyo, but Kasumigaseki in Kawagoe, Saitama. She did not know my station; however, she really wanted to have a trip to Kawagoe. I recommended that if she wanted to go to Kawagoe, she had better go to Kasumigaseki also. “I will be your travel fellow if you want”, I added. That was a funny story, but I felt glad that finally, I could introduce my lovely town to my friend.
Sometimes I ask myself if I should move to somewhere else that is more crowded and energetic than Kasumigaseki, but finally, I always end up with the decision to stay here. I realized that there was a very strong bond between me and this place which tightened us up: It was my love towards Kasumigaseki. I appreciate every single day I live here and I am sure that I will stay here in four years until I finish my university life. If you are finding a place where you can release stress and relax, please have a trip to Kasumigaseki. A lovely place can erase any problems, I guarantee.