I'm living in a valley town that has a considerable amount of farmland and bamboo forests; From my window you can see a span of barley fields and vegetable patches. Also close to my house is a siren, that while once sounded for bomb raids during the war, now signals the workday for farmers. 8am, 12 noon, 5pm--three rather loud reminders that time is passing.

Easily startled by things, my body tends to wake itself up around 7:45. Garbage pickup is around 8, and as leaving garbage out overnight at the pickup spot is socially prohibited there is some practical benefit to automatically waking up early.

Nevertheless, I do miss waking up on my own terms. When your wakeup calls are decided for you, it makes it hard to rationalize staying up into the twilight hours... which seems to be the decided rhythm of this house.

In brushing my teeth and splashing water on my face, in stretching and preening I sort through my loose thoughts. In opening the windows, rotating in the morning laundry, in washing the dishes, preparing breakfast and cleaning up the crumbs and wrappers of the evening before, I find my way out of the clouds and start my day.

Running up and down the stairs, relaying cups of warm coffee milk and empty bottles of soda gets the blood flowing. Keeping cheerful and quiet complements a scenery of rolling hills, chirping birds, the giggling toddler next door, morning variety news and a generous cross-breeze.

For the first time in my life I began keeping a house finance book, and have got into the habit of meticulously recording all of my receipts. Around 11, once I have the house to myself, you can find me tabulating the week and taking notes of things I have found in town for under 100 yen. Did you know you can get a bag of udon noodles for 15 yen? 10 yen on sale? I'm definitely not in Tokyo anymore and I feel positively refreshed.

October 12, 2010