I can't help but remember Disneyland when I think of Urayasu-shi, Chiba-ken. During the summer evenings we sat out on the front stairs of our apartment building and watched the elaborate fire work display. Disneyland was only a ten minute drive from our apartment. I'm sure the children thought it was their own private playground.
"Can we go to Disneyland today?"
"Not today, we are busy" (roughly translated- "Not today, we have no money!")
There were times we did go and enjoy ourselves at Disneyland. Listening to the "It's a small world" song in Japanese. Walking through "Sleeping Beauty's" castle. It was fun seeing the park through the children's eyes.
Japan was more than just Disneyland. There were futons, tatami mats, sliding doors, sitting on the floor, and trains.
The trains took us wherever we wanted to go. When I took the train into Shibuya to teach English I traveled at peak traffic time. Human bodies crammed into each compartment. Amazingly everyone retained their personal space, even while they were being shoved up against each other. It was a Japanese art.
Longer trips required the bullet trains. A trip to Osaka was just as easily made as a trip across town. If we were going up to Lake Yamanaka-ko we would forfeit the train ride and just drive our car. If we decided we didn't want to travel far, we could go to any of the children's parks located near our home. Each park was given a nickname. The 'bicycle park' was a free park made to look like a mini road system. There were real traffic lights and stop signs scattered throughout the park. Bicycles of all sizes and shapes were available for anyone who wanted to 'drive' around the park. The 'ship park' was another free park which contained a large replica of a ship. The children enjoyed exploring every facet of the vessel. Hours were spent at the 'Big slide park,' where the children slid down a tall slide and ran through mazes.
Japan continued to politely house us. As always, she was on her best behavior showing us all the good she had to offer.