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Local Japan: at home in Kawasaki, Kanagawa

I live in Kawasaki city, Nakahara ward. I love it here so much I actually had let down a job offer that required me to relocate from this lovely place.

Before settling here, I lived in several other places in Kanto (several places in Saitama and Tokyo), as well as in other islands such as Kyushu. Moreover, I’ve traveled the country quite alot so I like to think that my decision to live here is quite a well-researched one.

I must say that it wasn’t love at first sight though. I came to this ward because my younger brother used to live here and freshly-graduated 20something me, with only 20,000 yen in the bank couldn’t afford renting an apartment on my own so he took me as a refugee in his apartment which was located along the Nambu line. It was summer and god knows Nambu line is full of sweaty workers traveling along the way from Tachikawa to Kawasaki. I finally got an awesome job and in the first month I always arrived in the office sweating like a pig.

Then fall came and I got married with my boyfriend so we had to look for a house. I didn’t want to live far from my brother and my husband still had to commute to his university in Nishi Waseda, so we need to find somewhere that Meguro line,  Nambu line, and Toyoko/Fukutoshin line connects together. The answer was no other than Musashi-Kosugi.

If there is anything I learned about choosing a train station to live nearby, don’t take the big ones where the super limited express stops like Musashi Kosugi unless you’re super rich and you don’t mind wasting your money on ridiculously high rent fee in a most likely really crowded neighborhood. Take one station after that station, preferably one that passed by only local trains, and you’ll be able to afford something closer to the station with better surroundings. And that would be much better than walking for 20 minutes to reach your house from a big, crowded station.

So our choice was Motosumiyoshi. Motosumiyoshi has everything you could ask for to live a comfortable, practical life. To name a few, you got these: parks, rivers, hospital, supermarkets, shotengai, public library, and recently a family friendly giant mall: grand tree.

This location also happens to be near to major German car parts company, so you see many foreigners around as well. There’s also Kawasaki international center which makes you feel welcomed and supported being a foreigner in the neighborhood.

Every Day I commute to work comfortably using the Meguro line. The train only started from the neighboring station, Hiyoshi. So I always almost got a seat, going to work and coming back home. The view from the train was also amazing: the beautiful Tamagawa river.

Now talking about the nature, I enjoy Heiwa park just across the street from where I live. It has a tiny river flowing with kids playground next to it. The river is so humble yet so pretty during the hanami season. Next to the park there’s a school, nursery, the peace museum, and a big hospital: Kanto Rossai hospital. We visited the hospital several times and it was newly renovated. Clean and bright, with dutour cafe in the waiting hall.

After I gave birth, I enjoyed the park much more and meet fellow moms with their cute babies playing in the park. There’s a fountain that runs at certain hours and I enjoy watching it under the sun while my toddler running after birds.

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Now the supermarket. My fave is Maxvalue. Located just near the park. Everything is cheaper that you’ll stop buying things from more expensive supermarkets like Maruetsu. It occasionally have exotic fruits too like Durian! I travel around the neighborhood by bicycle but not when visiting the shotengai. Bremen street is the name of the shotengai near the motosumiyoshi train station. Yes. It has a German name. It seems like Motosumiyoshi is a sister town with a town somewhere in Germany. The shotengai is always vibrant with people and events, you’d prefer strolling slowly. It has everything I need: Kaldi, Tsutaya, Baskin Robins, and Ginza sweets corner. Before baby, our Saturday night dates would look like this:

My husband and I agreed on what time we’ll be home from work. Often our trains would travel in parallel/ side by side (Meguro and Toyoko line). Whoever realize first would text the other and wave at the window. Then we get off the train at Motosumiyoshi and went straight to Bremen street. We’d get some non alcoholic wines and microwave popcorns from Kaldi, rent the latest horror movie from Tsutaya, and get a buy one get one free margarita from domino pizza. You know how the rest of the night went. Sometimes we’d catch a bus straight to Lazona in Kawasaki (it’s only 30 min door to door and the bus stop is just in front of my apartment) get some Starbucks and sit in the middle of the open area of Lazona, watching the sky.

After baby, our weekends look more like this: grocery shopping at max value, have a treat in Baskin Robbins in Bremen street, and then have lunch in Hamazushi.

The area has Yamaha piano school, Nispo swimming school, and some English after schools. It’s really practical for new families. There are a lot of good clinics too. My husband goes to Kidzuki dental clinics to take care of his teeth, and my daughter has her regular pediatrician very close to our apartment.

On rainy days, Grand tree is the place to go. It has children indoor and outdoor play area. Also very affordable food court on the 4th floor.

One day, I decided that I want to have a driving license so I got one by enrolling in Koyama driving school in Tsunashima. It’s one of the few schools that offer lessons in English. Enrolling in driving school is not only cost intensive but also time consuming. There was approximately 90 study hours. I’m so glad Tsunashima is only two train stations away from my place! Now that I got a license (but no car), I’m so glad that this area got a lot of car sharing stations. Some of the famous ones are Times, Careco, and Orix. It expanded our weekend-with-baby options with trips to Costco and more awesome parks like the Mitsuike park. Sometimes when our family visits, we’d drive (or walk) with the whole family member to the Tamagawa river to do barbecue near the Shimaruko bridge while our toddler wrestle with our one-touch tent. At times like this I realized how enjoyable my life is even that I’m not the globetrotter that I used to be pre-baby.

Since I have lived in Japan for 13 years by now, I’m not quite sure how to compare it to how I lived back home in Indonesia. They’re not comparable since they’re two completely different countries and systems. I would say that Motosumiyoshi’s easy access to food, leisure, and entertainment suffice my needs. I’d go to Roppongi (which isn’t too far) if I’d like extra nice movie nights with hubby, or I’ll go to Jiyuugaoka and Futako Tamagawa if I’d like to have a more leisurely shopping experience. But for daily life, getting all the essentials and necessities, Motosumiyoshi is just perfect for me. One station to the south, it’s Yokohama shi (hiyoshi), three stations to the north (Tamagawa), it’s Tokyo tou. If I need to reach Haneda airport, there’s a shuttle bus from Musashi Kosugi, if I need to go to Narita airport, there’s Narita express from Musashi Kosugi Yokosuka sen.

What more do I need? It’s so ideal for me I almost wanted to keep this place a secret. But I guess the more gaikokujin living here, the merrier it would be. I prefer not to have my identity revealed but if you do decide to live in Motosumiyoshi after reading this and then you meet a fellow foreigner in the area, please smile because that person could be me. 🙂

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