Hayama Life – dissenting opinions of a foreigner

Below I have listed a number of photos (most in their original size) relating to ‘community development’. These pictures can also be found here ->

A strange foreigner from an even stranger country who does not know anything, is probably not supposed to meddle (give his unwanted opinions) about the situation of the Hayama community or its administration. Yet, there are some things I just cannot help talking about. The people in charge do not have to worry: nobody is listening anyway.

By now I have been living in Hayama for over 30 years (do not remember the exact number) and therefore tend consider myself as being a “local”. My profession often causes me to use examples or metaphors related to living organism, in particular human beings for my feeble attempts at explaining or outlining things. Personally I tend to see the Hayama community as an organism.

Conclusion first -> this town = body is not really healthy.

A view from a hilltop behind my clinic down onto the town with the Sagami bay in front and Mt. Fuji and sunset in the back.

A few years ago I was invited to and served for a short while as one of the ‘directors’ in the Hayama ‘Community building Association’. My job was to build and administer the relevant website. During the regular, usually lengthy meetings I failed to understand most of the things said in relation to administration, politics or finances.

I was instructed to maintain the website and publish relevant information based on the concept provided in the articles of association, describing the image of Hayama town as a “villa residence culture” with particular emphasis on life and culture in Hayama. And there was this English phrase: “to keep and create our Hayama Life”.

However, I somehow fail to see this ‘image of Hayama town’. Maybe that is because it is the image of someone else. In the following I will pick this thought up again, but I think the “our” in the above cited English phrase apparently refers specifically to rich people. The “villa residence culture” may have developed before a historical background, but **TODAY** the wealthy people owning second residences in Hayama are neither contributing to the community nor take responsibility for their presence and actions in this town, sometimes causing the community more pain than gain.

The “house” you see on the right side here seems to be a very peculiar villa (a very ugly one too), that I call the Hayama prison. It has no windows to the front or sides and VERY thick iron bars in front of the door.
The same house as in the picture above. Obviously the owner wants to express: “We don’t want any contact with any of you rustics. We are a better, different breed.”
Another example. This is probably supposed to be “security”, but basically looks like a military installation with a sign reading: “Come any closer and you will be shot.”
Another mansion that definitely does NOT say “Welcome”. I am surprised they do not yet have armed guards in front of the gate.
These things are called “Condomiums” where a flat most likely costs a million dollar and up. I pass there every day on my back home, but I see light, if any, at best in 1-2 of the apartments. Naturally, this too looks like a gray military installation.
A building with four apartments that stood empty for years after its completion. Now it seems ONE has been sold. Yet, I never saw any people there.)
An ordinary house in the “Hayama Life” style. It too is just cube of grey concrete. What happens to the green of the mountains and the blue of the ocean here in Hayama?
Some rather unattractive examples.

Among my patients there are number of fishermen in their 80s who were born and raised in Hayama. They all say the same thing: “In the old days nobody needed to lock their door.” Those days are gone now. With the arrival of outlandish ‘villa residences’ those happy days have been replaced by the trouble their owners brought to town.

A long time ago wealthy people from beyond the local community came and served as a sort of feudal lords, creating work for retainers and contributed also in some other ways to the local society (e.g., giving donations for the annual fireworks etc.).

Yet, today these lords disappeared together with company-owned resort facilities and are nothing more than wealthy people from elsewhere with a luxury second residence in this town. Unfortunately, the town (administration) itself is promoting and advertising this trend. Incidentally, construction work on houses/buildings in this town are often outsourced, so that it does not create revenues and/or work for the town. The Japanese term for “outsourcing” is pronounced “gaichu”, but so is the word for parasite.

Since these people do not LIVE here, they apparently do not feel any responsibility towards the community accommodating them. Villa residences do have have to care about style, community appearance or environmental impact. And the town administration is perfectly happy as long as they can collect some form of taxes, but then do not care about anything down the road.

The number plates of the craftsmen working on the house all have Tokyo numbers. They are foreigners.
A view onto Hayama prison from what should be scenic alley.
This used to be company-owned resort facing the sea. Now it is a hotel with a very funny name. From the beach it looks terrible.
The “Hayama prison” at the rear end of the picture and a number of other “I-have-no-idea-what” style houses. I have difficulties imaging people visiting our town to have look at this idillic scenery.
A number of pictures showing the town

Thanks to all these real estate “developments” and numerous ‘outsiders’ (that is what I am called in Japanese (外人)= a person from outside = a foreigner) who take responsibility (or care for) their actions within the community the abundant nature Hayama town had been blessed with is destroyed and disappearing at an alarming rate. The appearance of a ‘fisher town’ has basically vanished without a trace. The current appearance of the community, if you were to put it into medical terms, resembled more that of a person with integration disorder syndrome. It is a little difficult – for me – to image tourists coming to town specifically for the purpose of viewing this wonderful community appearance.

This is a scene near my house. The tree roots are barely holding onto the slope. Dangerous.
A little shrine called Shinmei-sha. It is a little difficult to see on the picture, but there are vines wrapped around the pine tree. I took the liberty of removing those and the tree discovered – but was later struck down by an infection of pine trees left mainly unchecked in the community.
The picture on the far left shows the stump and the other the cross section of the cut tree. The black stuff represents a fungus infection.
At the Emperor’s villa too. Numerous vine cover the trees. Left unchecked they will kill the trees. It took them very long to take action. (some tree actually died)
A few pictures showing the “state of nature in Hayama”

The “Hayama image” mentioned in an English brochure is supposed “to keep and create our Hayama Life”. Since this concept rests on the foundation of the ‘second residence culture’, the word “our” must refer to the wealthy people. Ordinary mortal people have difficulties to own a house in the first place, so that having a second one is a story from ‘over the rainbow’ – totally out of reach. Unfortunately the majority of these people are at best occasional visitors of the town and not a part of the local community. It seems they feel entitled to use Hayama as a playground, where they do not have any obligations or responsibilities. The numerous ‘second houses’ stand most of the year empty, giving the impression of a ghost town.

Over the last few years an infection of pine trees is spreading throughout the area and MANY magnificent pines had to be cut down. If there is an infected pine tree on the property of one of those villas, the town has no way/right to get to the tree for treatment or disposal, leaving an active source of infection. Resulting in the death of even more giant, beautiful pines.

Speaking of ghost town. Near the Shinnase port there are two mansion, or condomiums as they are called. I pass there every day on my way to and from work. At best there is light in 1-2 of the apartments on weekends. Yet, apparently all of the flats are sold. Each probably in the million dollar price class. That is why Japanese people call these building not “mansion” but rather “okusion”. Oku it the Japanese word for 100 million and 100 million Yen is about 1 million Dollar.

I would really like to see some shift in focus of Hayama image. Away from ‘playground for the rich’ more towards ‘active community where its occupants are proud to be a member of this community’. Unfortunately this kind of mentality seems to be alien among the many ‘artists’ and wealthy using Hayama.

Vines creep over a mountainside and will in time kill all the trees. Next thing will be landslides. Which then makes this piece of state property available for very little money, so that some greedy corporation can go ahead building even more ‘military installations’ = mansions.
A car with Shinagawa (Tokyo) number, parking in the middle of a curve, so that bunch of foreigners can buy themselves coffee in the Starbucks store. I told the driver standing next to the car, that this is malicious obstruction of traffic and he should do that in Tokyo.

I am under the impression the ‘urban image’ or ‘townscape’ gives the impression of a ‘integration dysfunction syndrome’ (formerly known as schizophrenia). Look around and you will notice, that there is very little left of the 2,600-year history, rich cultural traditions in the behavior or awareness of the people, including the use of the language (here naturally Japanese). Even though I am obviously a foreigner = outsider, I have been telling Japanese people (everybody willing to listen), that the Japanese should take more pride in their roots and wonderful traditions/crafts. The current situation gives me always the impression of (again a technical term, sorry) an identity crisis.

Referring to language. Look around and you will notice, that the Japanese seem to be afflicted by an incomprehensible inferiority complex regarding their native language. Walking the streets you can see MANY houses with nameplates in alphabet. Somehow they seem to think, alphabetic rendering looks more ‘cool’ / fashionable / impressive or whatever than their true name. Maybe 90% or more of mansions and apartment houses carry some strange foreign name rendered in the ‘katakana’ script. When this applies to facilities for the elderly or medical facilities, probably MOST elderly have no clue at all about the meaning of those names. May not be important, but still … And these facilities cannot be named = spoken of. Not even with a bad pronunciation. This like for example festivals apparently MUST be called ‘fes(tival)’ even though there is a common and appropriate Japanese term for it.

Conversely, meant specifically for foreign tourist, the town is obsessed with writing street names in alphabet. But the way they do it produces unintelligible things. I tried to point that out to people of the town administration. No success.

The name of a mansion. Does it really have to be “Grand City” (no idea what that is supposed to mean). Beside the English there is also Japanese and something in Katakana I could not even find out what language that is.
The sign of an Italian restaurant. I very much doubt any foreigner will know, that “Sakaba” means simply bar. And even though it is an Italian restaurant, the Italian word for restaurant is misspelled! “Ristrante” = wrong.
I suspect that none of the inhabitants of this nursing home for the elderly has any idea what the name of the place mean. I am still not sure, what foreign word they try to imitate with that Katakana. Maybe “vieux / vieille”. Depending on the type of word (noun, adjective etc.) meaning “old” or “old age” or something like that. For my taste not really an attractive term.
A “street name” at a traffic light near my clinic. It consists of TWO words, but that is intentionally hidden for foreigners. How kind!
A number of signs demonstrating the local mumble jumble.

If the town were interested in improving the community, promoting “municipal development”, I think the town should strive to invite younger people into the groups involved in these activities. Also, the town should probably look to invite craftsmen/women to stay here permanently. Rather than those rich ghosts from outside. As opposed to the wealthy and (sometimes so-called) artists earnest craftspeople tend to have well founded believes and consistent sets of basic concepts. I believe that would contribute more to building a vibrant local community than promoting said “villa residence culture”. Ideally, it would also be nice, when the number of people with “Hayama spirit” (people being proud to be a citizen of this town) would increase. And it would be invaluable, if the town administration would be able to show some degree of understanding. Personally I am convinced, that the town should NOT be offered as a playground for people from another world.

It rains ONLY over the Morito shrine. Maybe the Shinto priest did something wrong …?
This was an open letter I sent to the major of Hayama in 2002. I will try to translate that later.
A view I can enjoy near my clinic
The tourist season … its legacy is ALWAYS mountains of garbage. While it may be good, when tourist spend their money in this town, the appalling lack of manner and common sense of those tourist puts a heavy strain on the townsfolk. The disgusting remains of the heavy foods, drinks and supplies the tourists heaved onto beaches and elsewhere LITERALLY forms mountains when the tourists leave.
The picture on the left shows that they even leave the entire BBQ set they obviously bought in a convenience store.
Little guardian deities quietly – other than the noisy outsiders – watch over the community.
I really wish, the Japanese people could regain a little of this QUIET attitude.
The trend of the time demands that everything has to be quick and easy. Taking your time seems to give the impression of “loosing” something. These little stone deities are not in a hurry and might be still here in 500 years. Not like the fashionable crazes that drive people mad.
Erich Fromm:
“Modern man thinks he loses something – time – when he does not do things quickly.
Yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains — except kill it.”
A sort of little shrine in the mountains with a spring. The water is delicious. I used to stop there to get some when riding my bicycle (on the right).

Some links to a few related posts (in Japanese!). I leave them here for the time being: