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Friday, April 07, 2006

City vs. Town

I've noticed, by talking to my Japanese and Malaysian friends, that they often have polar opposite views - when it comes to preference between living in a city versus living in the country. Now, before I name these apparent differences, I must clarify that they do not apply to all people I've met from either of these two countries. Not at all!!!!!! For example, I've met some Japanese who view cities in the way that I've noted many Malaysians do, and vice a versa. The distinction I'm about to make is not at all fact, but rather, just an observance I've made on multiple occassions. And really, the main object of my facination is not a perceived cultural difference, but, rather a possibe variation in the tone/urban atmosphere of these two countries' metropolitan centers.

In Summary, I've noticed this: Many Japanese students from large cities dislike rural living conditions and would prefer to live in a larger city, whereas many Malaysian students that I talk with (from large cities) would prefer to live in rural environment, closer to nature. Soon, I was asking my self the question - What is it about the city life in these two countries that makes Japanese wish to return to city life, while Malaysians wish to escape it?

I can't say that I know all too much about the cities in either country. I can only say that I know, for sure, quite a bit more about Japanese cities than I do about Malaysian cities. Quite a bit. But, I assure you, I won't get very in-depth about anything I don't know very well. Thus, about the only thing I can do is name some facts about both, and perhaps you guys can then formulate your own conclusions.

The common Japanese city, from what I've heard, is very compacted. I've heard it said by friends (ones who've either lived in a Japanese city or visited one), that you can find everything you need to live within one block - or even one subway/train station!!!!!! I've also heard that the city streets are relatively safe to walk, even for women walking solo at night! (in some cases). Overall, crime rates in Japanese cities are comparatively low to those of U.S. cities. Also, I've gathered, from looking at pictures, that interior and exterior architecture is quite appealing.

In Japan, there are also many heath and comfort related commodities readily available in cities. Japanese restaurants go to great lengths to ensure the healthyness of the food they serve their customers. Whether they do this out of genuine care or just because it brings in more customers, I could not say. I can only note that it makes healthy decisions drastically more convenient for any aspiring customers. Furthermore, Japanese cities have highly extensive, efficient, and affordable public transportation networks. You can get wherever you need to be without the hastle of parking ramps, gass stations, and traffic jams.

The use of public transportation, I'm sure, decreases overall pollution output several fold. And, even if there were more pollution, it wouldn't concentrate over Japan. Because Japan is an island, wind from the ocean blows away all the smog that'd otherwise hang around the small country. This keeps the air perpetually fresh - or at least fresher than, say, the equivalent of our. . . Chicago, Illinois.

Closeness to the ocean, of course, also grants Japan access to a seeminly endless variety of plants, vitamins, fish, and other seafoods. Thus, even in cities, I would guess that people can find fresh and varied ingredients with little effort. This variety of ingredients allows a wider range of food making options. But, I've already described and extensively praised all the varied flavors of Japanese food (in my previous blogs). So, next, now, it's on to what little I know of Malaysian cities.

Malaysian cities are, according to this web page, different than Japanese cities, yet very nice. Keep in mind, though, that this is a tourism page.

Her is an article about air pollution in Malaysia caused by deforestation. Since this is a news article, just know that it may not be there anymore when you click on it. News articles are sometimes posted but temporarily. This article though, I believe, tells something VERY important. It's extremely short, and reading it may imply a LOT about why many Malaysians highly value nature: they are losing it!

Besides, the increase of smog in cities (due to decreasiing air filtration previously provided by forests), and the smoke produced by forest fires that flourish ( especially with the lack of rain that comes from deforestation) could easily make cities fairly misserable. The forests are prized and beatiful, and they're being cut down in the process of industrialization. So, if the growth of a city you lived in was causing the forest to be cut down, and that, in turn, was making the city a miserable place to live and breath - well then. . . you probably wouldn't think too much good of cities either.

In conclusion, it is very possible that the place you live, and the factors affecting that place, can and will affect your opinion of other comparative/contrasting localities for as long as you live - and where ever you go. If you live in a highly convenient city you will possibly value any city in general for being such. Though, if you live in a city where you're choked by smog that constructions of it's like are responsible for, you may view other cities as potentially guilty of doing the same (in the future if not already). If you were surrounded by dissappearing forests you would also gain a sense of forests as having "time limits." Therefore, you would get an ingrained sense of immediacy - to enjoy the forest while you still can, being painfully all too aware of just how fragile and succeptible to exploitation they truly are.

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