The Top 3 Places I’m Going to Miss

So my time living in the countryside is coming to an end. My final classes ended last week, as did my last day in the office. I’m now enjoying some lovely holiday time that I saved throughout the year.

Hohoku is a very beautiful place, with some very kind and welcoming residents. The two years I’ve spent here will remain with me for the rest of my life, that’s for sure. So as I consider my next adventure, in the less-countryside-esque Chiba prefecture, I find myself also thinking about the hundreds of people, places, and things I’m going to miss from here.

So then, here’s my top 3 list of places I’m going to miss the most.

3. Comic Space Kokura

Ok, I know this one isn’t in Hohoku, Shimonoseki or even Yamaguchi (in fact it’s not even on the same island), but this is a place I visited very often.

Comic Space is a simple studio for manga artists to use, but is also available to anyone else who wants a quiet working area. As you know I find it very difficult to work (or study) in the same building as my bed, so have to venture out to get work done. Comic Space gave me the perfect atmosphere to sit and work for hours non-stop.

Most of Outlandish Move, my English-learning visual novel game, was made there. They also helped when I put out an appeal for native Japanese speakers to test through the game.

The staff there are incredibly friendly, not to mention talented. I always enjoy reading their latest blog posts and seeing their latest illustrations.

Though I hope I can find a similar place in Chiba, I will always remember the time I spent at Comic Space.

2. Tsunoshima

Quite possibly the main reason people know about Hohoku (unless you’re a history and/or poetry buff) is this island.

Tsunoshima is a small island off the north west coast of Shimonoseki. The bridge to access it has been used in many movies and adverts and is a stunning bridge (not to mention it’s toll-free). The island itself was the setting for a major motion picture a few years back called Miracle in Four Days. And in manga too, if you get the chance then please read Tsunoshima no Yobitsukai.

Tsunoshima is my power spot in Hohoku. Whenever I’m feeling down, a bit iffy, or just plain foul, I take a trip over there, drive to the lighthouse (built by Richard Henry Brunton), and come home feeling much better.

There are beautiful beaches, stunning country walks, museums, and cows! This is the only place in Yamaguchi prefecture I’ve seen cows (I know there are cows elsewhere, but I haven’t seen them).

Quite possibly as far from Chiba as you can get while staying on Honshu, Tsunoshima will always have a place in my heart.

My power spot.

1. Joyfull

The reason I’m still alive.

(There are some good pictures here and here)

Joyfull is a family restaurant in Toyoura (the next town south), and though it is actually part of a restaurant chain (of which I’ve been to many of their branches), this is by far the best store. The food is always great, even on exceptionally busy days, and the staff are just … so friendly.

The first time I went there was with my supervisor days after arriving, and I think it’s fair to say that I’ve gone back at least once a week since then. I think my record was four days in a row. As I don’t cook often, I’m always able to go to Joyfull for dinner and just relax.

Often I’ll take some work with me and keep working, or study materials and have a study session (many local high school students do the same), or even take a book and just read. Often I bump into some of my elementary school students there, and we share a laugh and talk about what we’re going to eat, or what book I’m reading. This was especially funny when I was reading the comic “Japanese the Japanese Don’t Know”.

But the main reason I love Joyfull so much is a simple one, that will probably come across as a bit sad. One of my best friends is always there.

I love sitting here, right by this white dog lamp. His calm face always soothes me, and I often talk to him (or possibly her?) as he was alive. Similar to Tsunoshima, this dog has kept my calm, even at the roughest of times. In Hohoku I don’t see the same people on a regular basis very often, but this dog is always there, right when I need him (unless someone beats me to that table, and even then he seems to be having a calming effect on those customers also). I even asked if it was possible to buy him, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible.

Joyfull doesn’t have any branches in Chiba, being an Oita based company, so I won’t get to see his face again for quite some time. But I know that though I have gone, he will continue his work.

Hang in there buddy.