Tell me about Hamamatsu
Hamamatsu City is in Shizuoka Prefecture and within a two hour train ride of either Tokyo, or Osaka, and 2 hours drive or 1 hour by train from Nagoya.
The name means "Pine Tree Beach," and the city has a population of approximately 600,000, including a reasonable number of foreigners. The city's mark is symbolizes "the turbulent waves of the Enshu coast breaking around the edges of the stylized Kanji character for pine."
The school is about 20 minutes from the seashore, and 30-40 minutes from the mountains. The weather is hot and humid in the summer, cold and windy in the winter. Fall and spring are beautiful. There is little snow in our immediate area, but ski resorts are just a few hours up into the mountains.
The area is famous for its kite festival in May, Unagi (grilled freshwater eel), green tea and mikans (Mandarin Oranges). There are all the benefits of a large city, but very few of the hassles. Public transportation around the city or out of the city is good. English books and videos and foreign food can be found to satisfy most homesick cravings. There are museums for the weekend afternoons and clubs and pubs for evenings.
The Hamamatsu Kite festival is held every year in May. Neighborhoods work all year preparing kites and then hold kite battles over the dunes, trying to knock other neighborhood kites out of the air. A large parade is held through downtown Hamamatsu, and in each neighborhood dancers go around to houses where boys have been born in the past year.
Foreigners stuck in the endless concrete landscapes of Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto complain that they rarely meet "real" Japanese, or see much of rural Japan. Teachers at Four Seasons enjoy a nice balance, being able to work in the relative tranquility of Hamamatsu, and play either in the mountains to the north, the beaches to the south, or the huge cities on either side.
Getting around town is easy. The bus system is reliable and punctual and extends far beyond Hamamatsu. Taxis are clean and comfortable. Some teachers buy cars, but a bicycle or small scooter is probably the best bet for everyday getting around town. Teachers must to drive to many classes and the school provides cars for that purpose.