Nabari Belongs To Me
August 28, 2009
Nabari strikes me as one of those pleasant places you try your best to get away from. I could specifically see growing up here and wanting to bust out. It resembles a decent-sized city in the Midwest, the type someone moves to in order to raise a family away from the buzz of a big city. A setting perfect for prompting a kid to want to break out and go somewhere more vibrant. That’s Nabari.
This became clear even before I flew over to Japan. When asked what the selling points of Nabari are, most people praise the proximity to Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya. An excellent point…but nobody mentions any highlights in the actual city. That’s because Nabari isn’t an action-packed city…it’s very serviceable.
The twist, though, is that I’m not a rebellious teenager looking to get away from anything. College life left me burnt out, so Nabari’s peacefulness is right up my alley at the moment. I can easily get out if I feel a jonesin’ for big city life, and the rest of the time I can relax in a very nice, very pretty city. They’ve got a bowling alley, a batting cage and an arcade…what else do I need?
I’m underselling this place drastically. As hinted at, it’s gorgeous…I compared it to a Midwestern town, but it really resembles North Carolina. Mountains surround the town, and said mountains contain nothing but trees. We’re apparently surrounded by the “blue-green” mountains, which only help strengthen the Southern comparison because it always reminds me of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Which always reminds me of Fleet Foxes, but that’s unrelated.
Plus, there are all sorts of odd quirks just waiting to be discovered. Photo time!
All new teacher in the Nabari area went on a bus tour of historic city sites recently, to help us know the city better. Within ten minutes, the city doubled in size for me…the bus drove into a part of town I had no idea existed, offering all sorts of discoveries (look, a hardware store! A third McDonald’s! “Sports Depo!” There spelling, not mine) Soon the buildings went away and the bus entered the rural part of town. Only a few scattered clusters of houses and a pachinko parlor popped up – otherwise, it was just various shades of green colliding with one another.
We spent most of the day visiting collections of buildings that resembled a back lot at Universal Studios. Everything was set up to indicate people lived in them, but I couldn’t see a soul around. There was a dog just hanging out on a deck, wagging his tongue at us visitors with mild interest. But besides that little guy, not much activity.
We did visit a special school out in this area catering towards kids who are part of a group of Japanese people who are discriminated against by, uh, other Japanese people. I’m a bit sketchy on the details, but my de facto translator said they were treated differently because of the area they are from.
The school emphasizes (again, this is all via translator) lessons on discrimination, using very adorable props pictured below. They also have lots of student drawings posted in the halls, 60 percent of which seemed to be of marshmallow-look-a-like Kirby. Nintendo character aside, this served as an interesting opportunity for an outside like myself to get a small glimpse of a very Japanese problem.
The day ended with a small walk into the Nabari wilderness. The amount of mosquito tripled while the cicadas buzz grew louder the as we walked into the forest. The tour that exposed so much more of this place to me ended in a good place, a tranquil place.
Nabari isn’t the most exciting place I’ve ever lived. They have six supermarkets but no movie theater. It’s very humid. And the biggest positive is, yeah, being very close to three of the biggest cities in Japan. Yet I couldn’t think of anyplace I’d rather be at the moment.
(Japanese Fun Fact #11: The Japanese are very considerate drivers. They don’t honk their horns when they want to rip your face off – they do it to thank another driver for being aware of them. They also never seem to speed – heck, the ambulances here never break the law [obviously, this is a slightly disturbing realization]. And I haven’t witnessed any driving abominations yet, aside from a “Child On Board” sign. So, what I’m trying to say, everyone here drives better than everyone in the Chicagoland area, who truly suck.)