Hi from Ehime, West Shikoku

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QueenImo
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Hi from Ehime, West Shikoku

Post by QueenImo »

Hi all!

I'm really happy to have found this forum!

I'm Canadian/American, living with my Tokyo-born husband on a small plot in the mountains of Shikoku. We have planted vegetables, berries, and many trees including almond, mikan, yuzu, ume, and fig. There are also some sizable kiwi orchard areas. We just had our first harvest time of about 20 crates.

I'm interested in seeing what everyone is sharing here. Currently, my biggest challenge is navigating small town culture and social obligation culture. I've always been a very independent person, not so keen on social hierarchies. It has been difficult. I'm curious if others have a hard time with this too, or if anyone has any tips.

Thank you in advance. :) ~QueenImo

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Hi from Ehime, West Shikoku

Post by gonbechan »

Hey @QueenImo
amazing to have you here with us.

Don't worry too much about culture and fitting in, just be your natural self, but if you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure, ask one of the locals for advice. Pretty soon word will spread that you are 'making an effort' and many things will be forgiven. :D
If you try too hard to fit in and please everybody, you will become stressed over time.
Take the parts of the local culture you admire, and embrace them, but in the same way embrace the parts of yourself that you cherish too.
When someone local tells you about (for example) a seasonal tradition.. listen and enjoy, and then share something about your own culture/experience/preferences.. in that way everybody benefits and grows.

tataminodani
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Hi from Ehime, West Shikoku

Post by tataminodani »

Welcome.
QueenImo wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2023 2:01 pm
Currently, my biggest challenge is navigating small town culture and social obligation culture. I've always been a very independent person, not so keen on social hierarchies. It has been difficult. I'm curious if others have a hard time with this too, or if anyone has any tips.
Yup, one of my biggest issues. I don't actually mind the whole community working together thing (e.g. the clean the roadside days and garbage spot cleaning etc.) My issues are'

1. I don't know most of the customs (luckily Gaijin privilege tends to let you get away with not known a couple of times)
2. The social aspect can be exhausting. Especially when some obaasan or ojiisan talks to me for an hour in very hard to understand japanese :?

Richtko

Hi from Ehime, West Shikoku

Post by Richtko »

Welcome.

Ehime is lovely.
My in-laws are all from Matsuyama so I spend a decent amount of time there, wifes grandmother lives in 東温市, love that area.

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Hi from Ehime, West Shikoku

Post by Tora »

Welcome! From the other end of Shikoku (Tokushima)

I’ve been thinking about starting a conversation on what you mentioned regarding community relations in rural and small town areas.

I’m not super close with all the neighbors but I pitch in with many of the limited events there are here and usually end up liking them more than I ever supposed I would- I’m also very much NOT a group person. I even won a lot of toilet paper and a case of beer at the community sports day last month :D

I’ve also noticed the neighbors have been depending more on me to take care of some hard core jobs (like using chainsaws to cut down big trees in dangerous places and taking care of the recent influx of wild boars than had everyone freaked out) that nobody else wants to do for little or almost no money. They must really value me!!!

True story but I do get free meat and firewood and the neighbor I usually do these jobs with still refuses to give me the bill for redoing all the electrical wiring in my hose when I remodeled it. It seems like there is a core group of people who do what they can to help the community. I like that ethic but I have been thinking more on how much I should invest in terms of money, time and personal risk for the community where it seems that most don’t pitch in and some seem to pretend to ignore my existence.

I guess I want to say, don’t be afraid to try things out just for the experience and the chance to get to know people but also don’t be afraid to draw the line when something Is causing you too much stress or you just can’t do it. At the very least, I’m sure you’ll find someone who is easy to get along with and you can explain to them and maybe apologize if it seems fitting. I’d hope you husband would be able to do the same. I’m sure other members here would be able to help with suggestions for diplomatic resolutions to various issues should you have problems finding them yourself.

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Hi from Ehime, West Shikoku

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Welcome to the forum QueenImo and thank you for taking the time to sign up, we really do appreciate that.

20 crates of kiwi fruit :shock:, that's quite a sizeable harvest.

Small town life can be quite nice once you've settled in, certainly makes a big difference to big city life. Our neighbours often give us excess vegetables when they are harvesting and we give them something back when we harvest so it's a nice exchange. There's also the sense of community others have mentioned which makes you feel part of the group. As others have mentioned so long as you are patient and respectful your neighbours will see that you are trying and most likely make exceptions for you if you do inadvertantly make a mistake. That's certainly been our experience where we live but it might be worth starting a topic on the subject if you feel so inclined to hear what experiences others have had.

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Hi from Ehime, West Shikoku

Post by DocDoesFarming »

Don't be afraid to play the gaijin card from time to time, i use it to hoard unused items from people.
Make sure to mention that you're farming when speaking to people, you'll either get plenty of tips or equipment off of people who no longer need it.
QueenImo wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2023 2:01 pm
I've always been a very independent person, not so keen on social hierarchies.
I ignore all that stuff here, I just talk to everyone the same way, in my mangled Japanese.
Learn the local lingo, they usually have some interesting expressions :D
I write a load of bollocks, don't take me seriously.

QueenImo
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Hi from Ehime, West Shikoku

Post by QueenImo »

Thanks for all these responses. I'm happy to have some [online] company! Looking forward to talking with y'all more. Have a good one!