As a knowledge-hungry individual starving for more information on my placement, I have given up googling “Ibaraki Prefecture” in hopes that new information will appear, and I have turned to scouring the blogs of current and past JETs.
Recently, I stumbled upon a sentence that kind of shocked me into thinking a little differently. A blogger wrote something along the lines of, “Most people want to be placed near one of the Big Three cities: Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka.” Honestly, I had never really considered proximity to those cities. Of course, returning to Kyoto and spending time in Tokyo at some point during this year-long adventure appealed to me, but I wasn’t imagining popping into either city every weekend! Since Ibaraki Prefecture is only an hour or two train ride away from Tokyo, I suppose my prefectural placement is enviable in some ways.
I’m not really “most people,” though. The prefectures that I hoped to get placed in were Toyama, Yamagata, and Nagano, because they are mountainous and scenic places. (Granted, I suppose you could use those two adjectives to describe most of Japan). Picturesque towns and rolling hills interest me more than bright lights and cityscapes, although there is beauty to be found in both. Luckily, Ibaraki seems to be the best of both worlds: despite seemingly being a pretty flat prefecture, it isn’t too far away from my three prefectural preferences, and it’s close enough to Tokyo so that I can visit whenever I want. Plus, if any of my friends actually decide to visit me halfway across the world, they won’t have to spend extra money flying from Tokyo to a far-away prefecture like Hokkaido or Okinawa.
Ibaraki, I’m warming up to you.