by Katie Pocras, Nebraska Home Sales Realtor
When I travel I can’t help but look at homes and where people live. Admittedly, it’s only a glimpse, and some broad assumptions that may or may not be accurate. My latest adventure took me to Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. My daughter is studying as an Osaka University this summer. She said, “Mom, let’s go travel before I have to be at school”. I think this is code for “Mom, come pay”, but whatever the case, I jumped at the opportunity.
The first two things I noticed while on the train leaving Tokyo airport are rice paddies and wires. Many houses are surrounded by rice paddies. Is this a Japanese version of a garden? Regarding the above ground wires, my daughter said simply lines aren’t buried because of earthquakes.
One night we were treated to a traditional dinner by one of my kid’s former host families (Thank you Lincoln Rotary Club). The family brought along an ex-pat American so “I’d have someone to talk to”. While watching sushi was being made right in front of me (I didn’t do so well eating the sea urchins), the ex-pat told me about residential water use. Yes, I was asking perhaps quirky questions. He told me about water use and re-use. I believe we call it ‘grey water’. A couple of examples he mentioned that Japanese homes use so water isn’t wasted. A bathtub may drain to a holding tank and then the water is used in the first wash cycle, or it may get piped into the toilet for flushing.
Another interesting site is laundry hanging everywhere to dry. Even on the high-rise balconies. I asked why. My daughter just shrugged and said people don’t have dryers, and she had to get used to stiff clothes and towels. The houses I saw didn’t have lawns, and possibly one small garage. There is very little space between your house and your neighbors.
Speaking of personal space, in Tokyo we visited the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection. A mass of humanity crossing the street, it looked like waves of people. Ah, it’s good to be home.