2010年11月24日水曜日

a unique conversation?

"K, are we free Sunday?"
"This Sunday?"
"Mmmmm"
"Umm, in the afternoon."
"What have we got on in the morning?"
"Well, 6am is roadside cleaning, 7 is community centre cleaning, 8 is snow plough maintenance and after that we have a meeting about the agricultural union end of season festival. I should be finished by 10:30 though.... I think we're drinking though so I can't drive but there's nothing else on after that... Why?"

Seriously, I wonder how many other people have conversations like that. What a Sunday!

The level of community involvement here is pretty incredible. It's not just country Japan or old school farming community but a lot of it is specific to this particular neighbourhood, the rather stagnant population movement and huge amount of pride in neighbourhood and upholding tradition.

Next Sunday is a bit of an anomaly having quite that many events on but there are not many weeks without at least one event for the representatives and most months there's something that requires the participation of the wider community as well.

I think a lot of the willingness to be so involved in the neighbourhood is because a lot of my neighbours live, work, marry, grow old, retire (hah!) and eventually die in the same small area. The neighbourhood is their social network, their extended family and their workplace all rolled into one.

As they get older and their children (for the most part) are not taking up full-tme farming but rather combining it with full-time work, marrying partners from further afield and (shock) having hobbies and interests (and making time for them) that take them out of the area I wonder whether many of the traditions and commitments will be scaled back? You can already see it in the children's club. They used to have campouts and bus trips and fishing trips and hikes in the summer holidays. These days we only have a temple sleepover and a bbq.

I'm not sure whether I will miss the community involvement or celebrate my extra free time... but for now I guess it's just the girls and I next Sunday morning, hey?

2 件のコメント:

bastish さんのコメント...

I have conversations like that.

Of course, if I opt out of joining some community duty, I am generally forgiven (have to pay 3,000 yen though) because I am a freak - and by far the youngest person who ever comes to them. Everyone else my age has a father in their household so no need for the yung-uns to come.

To tell the truth though, I really like it. I am not sure how I will feel when all the old folks die and I am the only one cleaning the gutters...

thefukases さんのコメント...

We don't get the pay your way out option. I think everyone just expects we'll all be there?

I think the next 10-15 years will be really interesting in our kind of neighbourhoods seeing what happens hen the older generation becomes less active in the community. Make way for the country loving foreigners, huh? ;P