This is the weird thought I had this morning. Being in a caravan in West Wales for a week reminds me of life in Japan for a number of reasons. I wanted to think of ten but I could only come up with six.
1. It is cold in the morning.
Caravans have very thin walls, as do Japanese apartments. So when I am in a caravan, as when I lived in Japan, it is always cool in the mornings. Actually, now I have just typed that I realise that that isn’t at all true. It was always cool in the mornings in Japan except during the months of June to September when it was hot in Japan 24-hours a day. Japanese summers are intense with temperatures of the mid-30s in the height of summer and little respite during the night.
A caravan vibrates and rattles as did my Japanese apartment. In a caravan this is caused by children moving around at the other end of the dwelling. In Japan this was caused by small earth tremours. At first I found these quite alarming. By the second year in Japan being woken up by rattling books at 3am was rather annoying.
3. Rooms have more than one purpose.
Some caravans have a living room that doubles up as a bedroom. In the caravan I am in at the moment my youngest child is being transferred from the master bedroom to the sitting room at night to sleep. So every night before I go to bed I have to turn the sitting room into a bedroom and every morning I have to return it to a sitting room. When I lived in Japan my apartment consisted of three rooms: kitchen, bathroom with toilet and main room. I lived and slept on a futon in the main room so every morning I had to fold up my futon and turn my bedroom into a sitting room.
4. Sound travels.
Caravans have thin walls (see above), so sound from outside (and inside no doubt) travels. The same applies to Japanese apartments. I tried to be quiet when I lived in Japan. The cicadars outside of my apartment were not so considerate.
5. Space is precious.
Caravans are not houses. They aren’t designed to be lived in long term. This caravan I am in right now is twice as big as my Japanese apartment. But despite that, the similarity between the two is that space is precious. I didn’t have much space in my Japanese apartment. I think many people who haven’t lived or visited Japan would be quite shocked at how little space I had. In fact, when I first arrived at my apartment in Japan I opened the patio doors in the main room (which I thought was the sitting room) expecting to find another room (a bedroom) only to find that I was back outside. I had to be a master at clever storage and also good at resisting new purchases. The kitchen was tiny so any cooking I did in my kitchen was simple (toast). I went food shopping daily rather than weekly.
6. Japan looks like Wales.
This isn’t at all caravan related but I will sneak this one in because this is my blog entry. The first time I travelled out of urban Japan and towards the countryside I was reminded of family holidays in Wales. This similarity was bizarre. Much of Japan is mountainous and rural. It really does look like Wales.
So if you can’t afford to go to Japan, just book yourself a week in a caravan in West Wales. It isn’t that dissimilar.