Welcome to Inakadelphia.

When I applied for the JET Program as a senior at La Salle University in Philadelphia, I clearly indicated my desire to be placed in an urban area. I specifically requested the Kansai region, which includes Japan’s second largest city, Osaka, the cultural center of Japan, Kyoto, and my personal favorite city (and Philly’s sister city), Kobe. Hell, I even went as far as requesting a specific school, having been to Kobe on a travel-study in 2006.

After endless application forms and a very scary FBI criminal background check, my results came, nearly a year after beginning the initial application. Before my official placement paperwork arrived, I received and e-mail from my predecessor, also from Philadelphia (South Philly).

“Hokkaido.” My heart sank. Especially when I realized that my city wasn’t Sapporo, the only city I imagined could even come close to filling my desire to remain an urbanite. I was destined for the inaka.

inaka (田舎, inaka?) is a Japanese term meaning a rural area or the countryside. When said by people on the JET Programme, it is often used as a pejorative about places outside the major metropolitan areas, highlighting the lack desirable urban features – bars, shops, general entertainment, young people etc.

So, here I am, 3 months in. I haven’t been here long enough to love or hate it, so stay tuned for a verdict.


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