I live is a large complex on the edge of Nagoya. It was built in the early days of the bubble when buildings were built fast and cheap, but the apartments cost more than a decade’s salary for most Japanese families at the time. Now buildings like mine are considered old, out of favor, and cheap to buy into. Well, they’re cheap when they come on the market, but they aren’t as easy to find as you might expect. In Japan people buy a condo or a house to live in for the rest of their lives. As our complex ages, so does the average age of our neighbors. Two young single guys bought in recently, but most of the people in our tower are over 60.
In a place like this we still do things the old fashioned way. And one of the old-fashioned things we do here is: every three months we get up early on a Sunday morning and go out and clean the grounds. Nobody wants to do it. We do it because the Homeowners Association says we have to. some people… like those two young guys… do skip out, but that’s not seen as neighborly. In these old-fashioned complexes neighborly is a word that still has some value. So every three months we’re out there with our work gloves and half-smiles cleaning the garden too.
Did I mention nobody really wants to do it? So the truth is we really don’t do crap out there. We pick up a few cigarette butts and litter next to the building. Some of the more industrious neighbors pull weeds and sweep away the dirt–usually for about ten minutes, until they get tired. Mostly people just talk about each other and the neighbors who aren’t there, or the weather, or the cats in heat wailing in the middle of the night. Because that’s about all we have to talk about. But at least we’re neighborly. And maybe the whole “cats in heat” topic isn’t particularly earth shattering, but I know if that big quake ever happens, or if some burglars case the joint… their are some neighbors around here who’ve got my back. I guess that’s neighborly. And it’s worth a couple hours on a Sunday morning.