Mr. J and I live in a somewhat rural part of Japan. I really like the area we live in, but sometimes other foreigners that are new to Japan and get placed here go on about how there’s nothing to do and how they wish they were living in Tokyo or a bigger city. Besides easier access to concerts, conventions, and huge shopping areas, I can’t think of anything Tokyo and other bigger cities have that rural ones don’t. Believe me, I’ve lived in Tokyo. 😉
I find most of the time the problem is that people just don’t know where to look. For example, the shrine we took a walk through in last week’s 7-5-3 post held a korokke (Japanese loan word for croquette) festival during the holiday weekend. Our area is always putting on various events to introduce local cuisine/culture like this one, but if we hadn’t seen fliers for it or heard about it through a friends, we probably wouldn’t have known it was going on.
The area near us is famous for potato korokke, so they held an afternoon festival on Monday and invited other cities from all over Japan to come and showcase their own rice and potato korokke variations.
Business was booming! Most stalls sold out before the festival ended at 3:00 p.m. Mr. J and I shared a few korokke between us, and undeniably the best one we tried was the “black korokke“, made with ika sumi/back squid ink. I’m normally not a fan of squid ink in pasta and other dishes, but this korokke variation smelled and tasted great! If you happen to chance upon it, I recommend it. We might even try to recreate it at home.
The other local shops in the area used the event as a promotion opportunity, and the atmosphere was a bit like a flea market with everything from second hand clothing and appliances, coffee and cakes, carnival-style games for kids, and cheap hand massages.
It’s rare that our area and other rural areas don’t have something going on over the weekend. However, most events are through invitation or word of mouth, and not always accessible on a webpage or the internet like events in bigger cities. If you’re ever looking for something to do on the weekends or holidays, just head over to city hall or your local community center for event flyer postings, or try checking your local area’s city or town webpage or calling the tourist/event information inquiry number many offer.