(See page 2 for German Version)
As I am now living in Tokyo for the third time, you would expect that I would have gotten used to this crowded city with its millions of inhabitants by now. But it seems for me as if this time it has been particularly difficult to find my way in the hustle and bustle of this huge city; and without doubt, this has to do with the fact that I have been living in the Japanese inaka, countryside, for the last two years, – in a town surrounded by mountains and rice fields, where the fox and the hare literally bid each other good night.
Even though I didn`t like the inconveniences of life there (trains only departing once an hour, no cinema or other “entertainment” in town available, etc.), and while I appreciate the many activities that Tokyo has to offer all the more, in the end, I really miss the peace and serenity of the country life. Believe me that commuting by train every day in Tokyo does not really reduce your high stress level, either! In short, soon after I moved here, I realized that I really needed a dose of nature to find my inner peace again.
For a short trip into the nature, Hanno, a city in the southwest of Saitama prefecture, seemed to be a good choice. It only takes about an hour by train to get there from Tokyo, and although you can`t really call it a “countryside town” with its 80,000 inhabitants, there are still far fewer people there, there is much more nature and farmland, and you can even find some small forests. In addition, there are several marked hiking trails in the area around the station, making a (walking) trip all the more easier. We opted for an approximately 11km long route, which first led us through a residential area and along a river, where some people where having a barbecue; after that we passed a few temples and even went up a small hill in the woods. Without expecting any spectacular landscapes, we just enjoyed our rural surroundings, the serene atmosphere and fresh air… When, back in Tokyo, I woke up the next morning, for the first time in a long time I felt relaxed and rested.