Scouting Trip to Kanto

Finding land, working a small plot or anything else countryside related
baragua
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Scouting Trip to Kanto

Post by baragua »

Hey gang, we're gonna be spending a month in the Kanto area starting at the end of January, with the hopes of finding a new spot to settle. Got an itinerary plotted out, starting with the area around Hakone in Kanagawa, and then to Tsukuba, Kasama, and Hitachi Ota in Ibaraki. We chose those spots due mainly to my wife's familiarity with the area (she grew up in Kanagawa), but also because some of the places offer support and inexpensive lodgings for people considering relocation. If anyone is local or has spent time in the region, I'd be grateful for some recommendations as to good areas to scope out while we're in Kanto. We're looking to stay fairly rural, but with decent access to the Tokyo metro via transit (Tsukuba is ideal in this regard, for instance).

I'm personally a little bit sorry to leave Tottori, but my wife is having a tough time finding work here. She's also been yearning to be closer to her friends and family in Kanto since returning to the country. It's a shame, but I get it, and to be honest, I can also see the draw in being a little bit more connected to a big metro area. We're pretty isolated up here, and that's been particularly tough on her, especially when the weather makes it hard to get around.

Anyway, if you have any suggestions, lay them on me. We're down to range anywhere in the prefecture, and we'll be there for a good bit of time.

edmundedgar
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Scouting Trip to Kanto

Post by edmundedgar »

Are you saying "stay rural" in the English sense of "fields or trees instead of buildings everywhere" or in the Japanese sense of "not the big city"?

If it's the former but you need transit to Tokyo, I guess the trick is to pick one of the little stations on the main line, for instance I have a friend who lives in Iwama.

If you're thinking of a proper town, Tsukuba has loads going on so plenty of places to work. Kasama is a nice town but maybe not nice enough to justify the distance from Tokyo. (I live in Mashiko which is just over the border in Tochigi, another pottery town spawned off Kasama. Mashiko is an awesome place to live but the public transport is bad.) Another city you might to think about is Mito, it's just a really interesting historical place, lots of good buildings and a big historical park thingy, and good express connections to Tokyo.

I wouldn't pay *too* much attention to support from local government etc, it's nice to have but probably not much in the grand scheme of things.

baragua
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Scouting Trip to Kanto

Post by baragua »

edmundedgar wrote:
Thu Jan 06, 2022 5:58 pm
Are you saying "stay rural" in the English sense of "fields or trees instead of buildings everywhere" or in the Japanese sense of "not the big city"?
Good question. I guess the easy answer is "either/or." My main priority is space. I want to be able to have a large enough garden to keep the two of us fed with veg, as well as enough space to experiment with raising chickens, cultivating mushrooms, and making compost and other amendments. I'd also want enough space for a modest outbuilding to use as a workshop, as well as a shed or greenhouse/nursery or two. Our current place here in Hiruzen has all that, which is why I'm bummed to leave it. It's an akiya that would require some work if we were to stay long term, but we're comfortable enough. Hoping we can find something similar in Kanto. Our assumption is that we'll rent a place initially while we find our footing. Ideally, we'll find the right general area during this trip and make that initial move in the spring.

Thanks for your insight on the area, edmundedgar. We'll be staying in Kasama for a week, so I think we'll be able to get a feel for it and its environs. We'll definitely spend some time in Miko too. Much appreciated!

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Zasso Nouka
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Post by Zasso Nouka »

From the perspective of finding a place to settle I only really know our little patch of Chiba. It's nice, has easy access to big cities yet our little village only has fifty houses, is totally rural and has an awesome community spirit yet big supermarkets and shops are just a 10 minute drive away and cinemas and shoping malls are a little over a 30 minute drive for when you really crave civilisation. If that's what you are looking for there are places similar near most big cities, you don't have to be in deep inaka to have a rural setting. Maybe if your wife wants to be closer to her family start your search around there, you will have the benefit of a close family network who can introduce you to people and you won't be complete strangers to the people already living there. That's how we found our place, through friends of my wife's parents, we'd searched and search with so many real estate agents but never found anything quite right then her fiend said he handles property that has been abandoned for a long time and folk just wanted to get rid of it and the rest is history. The lawyer that carried out the legal aspects of the sale was my mother in law's brother in law and the surveyor was my father in law's cousin. Start closer to home and spread out from there, local knowledge and connections go a really long way and your wife will be happy to have family nearby.
edmundedgar wrote:
Thu Jan 06, 2022 5:58 pm
If you're thinking of a proper town, Tsukuba has loads going on so plenty of places to work.
Don't know what field your wife works in but if you are thinking about Tsukuba I totally second this, lots of high tech companies with modern offices and modern city infrastructure yet drive for 15 to 30 minutes outside of the city centre and you have a completely rural setting.
edmundedgar wrote:
Thu Jan 06, 2022 5:58 pm
Kasama is a nice town but maybe not nice enough to justify the distance from Tokyo. (I live in Mashiko which is just over the border in Tochigi, another pottery town spawned off Kasama. Mashiko is an awesome place to live but the public transport is bad.)
I Totally love the scenery around both of these areas, rolling hills with mountains nearby and Tochigi has so many awesome little bakeries and restaurants I don't think you'd ever get bored there plus all the onsens for when you need a deep soak. Tsukuba is nice but it's also quite flat but if you like your scenery to be a little more interesting Tochigi certainly has that in spades.

baragua
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Post by baragua »

Always grateful for your insights, ZN. Definitely hoping that my wife's extended friends/family network will help us find some leads. She doesn't want to be in too close of a proximity to her relatives, so it'll probably be a bit of a balancing act. What you describe about your own situation sounds pretty much what I'm hoping for. Hope we can find something along those lines.
Don't know what field your wife works in but if you are thinking about Tsukuba I totally second this
Yeah, I also have a good feeling about this place. Back in the US, she worked as an acupuncturist, but her license unfortunately doesn't transfer here, which means no needling. There are other modalities she can practice, though. Her main focus as far as job seeking at this point is social work. She also has a background in that, and she's already turned up some promising leads in Tsukuba. She's mainly interested in working with adults with developmental disabilities.

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Post by Zasso Nouka »

Tsukuba is not a bad place to live, it's a modern lively city without being too big. Has a great Michi no eki set up by a guy who firmly believes farmers should earn a living wage rather than undercutting each other on price or underselling their vegetables. It has all the other amenities you could want yet isn't too large.

On the subject of in-laws, living close by isn't for everyone but it worked well for us. They live just under an hour away so not right on our doorstep but close enough visits aren't a hassle. We go out for dinner with them regularly and my mother in law sends some of her customers and friends over to our café and we do the same for her so it works quite well for everyone but your mileage may vary.

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Post by edmundedgar »

baragua wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 10:01 am
Don't know what field your wife works in but if you are thinking about Tsukuba I totally second this
Yeah, I also have a good feeling about this place. Back in the US, she worked as an acupuncturist, but her license unfortunately doesn't transfer here, which means no needling. There are other modalities she can practice, though. Her main focus as far as job seeking at this point is social work. She also has a background in that, and she's already turned up some promising leads in Tsukuba. She's mainly interested in working with adults with developmental disabilities.
If you/she would have a car, maybe think about the area to the north-east of Tsukuba. You have Mount Tsukuba to the north of the town, and the western side of the mountain is kind of semi-built-up Kanto plain, but the eastern side is the legitimate boonies. When I go to Tokyo I'm driving for an hour or so through very pretty countryside all the way to Ibaraki Flower Park, and it only gets built up to the south of that, then I jump on the expressway at Kita Tsuchiura and whoosh down the Joban Expressway until I hit the Tokyo traffic jams. So maybe start at Ibaraki Flower Park and work your way up: That's still an easy commute to Tsukuba and its many jobs, and an excessive-but-not-totally-impossible commute to Tokyo. Municipality-wise you could be in Tsukuba, Ishioka, Sakuragawa or Kasama.

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Post by baragua »

edmundedgar wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 6:44 pm
If you/she would have a car, maybe think about the area to the north-east of Tsukuba.
The area just south of Mt. Tsukuba was already on our list--one of my wife's job prospects is in the vicinity. But we'll definitely explore from the flower park on north. Thanks for putting it on our radar! We do have a car, but we're trying to keep it to just one, so transit access is high on the list. Not necessarily a dealbreaker though since I can work from home.
Zasso Nouka wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 1:21 pm
On the subject of in-laws, living close by isn't for everyone but it worked well for us. They live just under an hour away so not right on our doorstep but close enough visits aren't a hassle. We go out for dinner with them regularly and my mother in law sends some of her customers and friends over to our café and we do the same for her so it works quite well for everyone but your mileage may vary.
Sounds like a good arrangement. I've made it clear to my wife that I'm OK with as much or as little contact with her family as she wants. Everyone I've met has always been super nice and chill, but it's always different when it's your own family, so I can respect her wanting to moderate contact.