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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ohtawara—Now With WiFi

A few years ago, my friend Mike Rogers, a fellow blogger transplanted from the U.S. to Japan, once idly commented that he would never visit Ohtawara-shi (Big-Rice Field-Field City), Tochigi-ken—my old home town in Japan—because it seemed like a dull, little place.

I'm sure he would have visited if I still lived there, but without me to lend the place the added excitement, I understood his reluctance. It didn't even have a cool castle to visit. It has a sign indicating that one existed centuries ago, and there's parkland in the depression where the castle once stood, where one can wander around drunk and see the cherry blossoms during hanami (cherry blossom viewing time)... but no... there was no photo-op with a real Japanese castle. 

I painted it as quite the idyllic, rural city located some 100 kilometers north of Tokyo, to be sure, and while it was true that as far as the night life goes, Ohtawara-shi rolled up its sidewalks at 9PM every night… except in the nearby (to my apartment) bar scene that partied on until 2AM or later, if you knew the right people.

Along with the classy bars and old-fashioned and modern Japanese restaurants, there was even a ‘special’ bar called the London Club—which I never ever entered. Ever—that purported to be a pervert's club… I assume that means that for lots of money for expensive drinks, I could be pawed over by slutty Japanese women.

I would never do that.

Okay, I never did that in Japan. I wanted to go in, but then again, for myself, why buy the cow when you are getting the milk for free.  

Mike’s complaint is actually well-founded. While there are plenty of temples and shrines, and onsen, and restaurants, bars and parkland… when I lived in Ohtawara between 1990-1993, it was a sleepy-little town that dreamed of being a big city. There wasn’t even a real dance club there or a place where one could go and listen to live music. Sure, it had those activities set up every once in a while, but it lacked permanence.

But Ohtawara isn’t like that now. Apparently.

As you can see from the image above sent to me by my buddy Matthew who saw enough in Ohtawara to marry one of its beautiful citizens, while doing an on-line search for things in Ohtawara, a website noted that along with 14 hotels and 293 restaurants, there are also 78 things to do.

It ain’t no Tokyo, but even the most ADHD person isn’t going to be able to hit all the sites or do all the activities in a week’s stay in the city so boring it has the word “field” in its name twice.

So… nyahh,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Hey Matthew… you don’t think that the APP mistakenly looked for the more famous Odawara, do you? Ohtawara couldn’t have 78 things to do could it—unless there’s a guided tour of my living spaces with an extra charge to see the boudoir? 

An Ohtawara farmer—outstanding in his field. Oh... wait... he's "out standing in his field". Photo by Andrew Joseph, back when you had to buy black and white film.
PPS: I have no idea if Ohtawara offers free WiFi. I doubt it. So ignore that bait and switch headline. 

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