On a gloomy Sunday I took some photos of my neighborhood just before the rain started again. This is a fairly typical middle-class neighborhood in semi-rural Japan. My wife and I have lived here since 1980. Our two sons attended the local elementary school, and we have been active in neighborhood affairs for more than three decades.
The neighborhood has two playgrounds, although the smaller one is no longer used very much. Kids on our block often play in the street, which has little traffic. Today the kids are all indoors, and the neighborhood is unusually quiet.
Our section of the neighborhood is surrounded by canals. Two or three times a year we clean up the playgrounds and sometimes pull weeds from the inner canal, which runs all year.
On one cleanup day each year the local Fire Department offers training for emergencies. Almost everyone has practiced operating the fire equipment and hoses that are placed in red boxes on every street. Fortunately, we have never had to extinguish a real fire.