和文は英文の後にあります。ルビ付けは途中です。/ The Japanese translation is on the bottom of the page. We are still working on furigana.

An image of a yard in an American residential area
[Click to enlarge] In the US, a young hawk can visit your backyard in a “residential area”./ 米国では住宅街に若い鷹が遊びに来ることがあります。
  1. Did you see wild birds and animals when you were small?
  2. “We were not in the countryside!”
  3. Japanese residential areas are not a habitat for wildlife
  4. Environment abundant with wildlife is called “inaka” in Japan
  5. An example of an American residential area with wildlife
  6. The backyard of an American house
  7. What is your image of the countryside in the US?

1. Did you see wild birds and animals when you were small?

What kind of place are you living in now? Is it a big city, a small town, countryside or a different type?

We are living in a city called Charleston, SC, in the US. I think it’s “inaka” or countryside but there are people who do not agree. I will tell you how in this post.

According to a dictionary, “countryside” is “inaka” in Japanese. However, when I talk to Americans with that notion, the conversation may not go smoothly.

The other day, I had a conversation with a young American lady living in Manhattan in New York, about wild animals and birds I saw for the first time after moving to South Carolina.

I had heard she was born and raised in a residential area in New Jersey. So I thought it would be an unknown subject for her just like for me. I also grew up in a residential area near Tokyo.

However, she knew everything; she had seen a lot of deer in a grassy field very near her home, she had seen Red-Breasted Robins and Eastern Bluebirds, and she had seen hawks catching squirrels!

From my point of view, you wouldn’t grow up in a residential area and be able to experience those things. For example, I only knew sparrow, pigeons, crows and such. So I rectified my image of her home area as countryside in New Jersey, and said in Japanese,

“That’s wonderful. You know life in ‘inaka’ (countryside) and in a big city!”

2. “We were not in the countryside!”

She turned color a little and said,

“’Inaka’ means countryside, right? My house was not in the countryside. There were a lot of houses and it was a residential area.”

That surprised me. “Oh. if you said you have seen deer, wild birds and hawks in your vicinity in Japan, people would think you grew up in “inaka” (countryside). Wasn’t it that?”

“No, no! Aren’t there deer in residential areas in Japan?” She asked.

No, we are not likely to see deer in a human habitation.

As an exception, in Miyajima, it is well known that deer take a walk freely among houses and shopping streets. However, they are regarded as the god’s messengers and are treated accordingly.

3. Japanese residential areas are not a habitat for wildlife

More than 70% of the land is mountains in Japan. The rest is used for rice fields, fields for other agriculture, residences, factories, stores and offices.

After WWII, real estate companies developed a lot of woods and farmland and built houses on the flat land around big cities. This allowed people to easily commute to work and school in a big city. Thus the suburbs spread with these newly built residential areas, called the New Residential Developments.

I grew up in one of those areas. So when I hear “a residential area”, I automatically think of the New Residential Developments.

Houses in the New Residential Developments are built side to side and rather tightly. Since each property is expensive, much of the property is occupied by the house. Usually they have one space for the garden or yard. Many houses do not plant trees which will grow tall and/or wide, partly because of the size of the yard.

An image of a park in a Japanese residential area
[Click to enlarge] A confidential meeting? / 秘密の会談?

There are some “parks” in the New Developments but these are actually narrow playgrounds equipped with slides and swings for toddlers and young children.

As a whole, those modern Developments offered a place where people can finally live separated or protected from the difficulties of natural phenomena. They are appreciated and very popular.

Viewed from the opposite side, a residential area in Japan is generally not a comfortable habitat for wildlife.

4. Environment abundant with wildlife is called “inaka” in Japan

Japanese real estate companies created suburbs with these New Residential Developments and pleased people for the clean environment and modern conveniences. The realty companies often owned railroad and bus companies, and they always tried to create direct train or bus routes to city centers from their Developments. 

As a result, people in the Developments in the suburbs felt they were living in proximity to a big city even if it sometimes took them more than an hour to commute. At least their area is not “inaka”. 

At the same time, “inaka” grew to sound more remote from a big city and closer to nature and a wildlife habitat. That’s why we automatically associate an environment with the word “inaka” if we see it inhabited or visited by a lot of wildlife.

5. An example of an American residential area with wildlife

On the other hand, in the US, it seems there are at least two words, “residential area” and “countryside” for a human living environment abundant with nature.

As an example, I will tell you about a residential area in the city of Charleston.

This is a high temperature and high humidity province. It is very thick with trees and plants such as live oak, pine trees, palms, crepe myrtle, jasmine, wisteria, among others. 

Tree branches grow, overlap those of the neighbors’, and eventually the entire subdivision can become an expanse of rich green like a park forest. You can see many wildlife there.

The look is very different from their counterparts in Japan, but all the properties were developed by realtors in the same way. Likewise, infrastructure such as electricity, gas, water supply and sewage, trash pickup service, and the Internet, is developed for the the entire subdivision.

I assume that the American woman was living in a similar residential area in New Jersey. 

6. The backyard of an American house  

By the way, the backyard of American houses is very interesting to me. I will tell you what I actually see and noticed.

First, the shape of the property is an elongated rectangular. The long side can be three times longer than the width, and definitely longer than Japanese homes in a common residential area.

Next, the front entrance of the house faces the car road. In front of the entrance is the front yard. It is mainly grassy and looks simple and nice. 

On the back of the house, the big part of the property is called the backyard. Each household has their activities of choice and use their backyard to enjoy them. Some houses are not surrounded by a wall, so it is fun to peep and wonder what kind of people are living in a house.

Frequently you see cafe table and chairs.

A boat in a backyard
[Click to enlarge] A boat in a backyard in a residential area / 住宅街の裏庭に船

Barbecue sets, motor boats on a cart to be pulled by their car.

A rock garden and a pond of the oriental taste.

Vegetable patches, flower beds, bird feeders and birdbaths, a fruit tree of many kinds, or green grass alone.

A small enclosure to prevent dogs and small children from coming onto the car road, slides and other children’s equipments.  

A swing hung from beautiful long ropes from a very tall tree, or an adult-sized tree house!  

A swimming pool, tennis court, or a basketball hoop, etc, etc.

In a house, I saw an elegant round-shaped swimming pool. It seemed that the children of the house had left home years ago, and it was totally dried up. Jasmine and many other vines and weeds were happily growing from it as if it had been some ancient ruins. It was a very poetic scene but the cleanup will not be easy.

7.What is your image of the countryside in the US?

Lastly, I asked the American woman one more question:

“What kind of place is the countryside in the US?”

An image of the US countryside
[Click to enlarge] In a part of Wyoming, you drive many minutes to see another house. This is countryside. / ワイオミングのある地域では、次の家を見かけるまで車で何分もかかることがあります。これはカントリーサイド

According to her, it is a place where you don’t see the next house until you drive for minutes.

Yes, I have seen places like that. Houses were apart by kilometers among fields of soy, corn and cotton or pine woods and there were no visible communities. Sometimes, however, I was a little surprised to see many churches.

Churches are of course found elsewhere in the US. They caught my attention since there were so few other non-residential buildings. I wonder if churches are even more important as a physical place for people to meet and stay connected with others, in the countryside.

Recently a conversation at a local antique shop gave me another clear image on the American countryside.

I was complaining that I had set a birdbath up in our yard last month but no one had visited it yet. Everyone there said that their houses were in the countryside; that wild birds were not very shy of them; and that on a hot day, many come flying immediately when they added fresh water in their birdbaths, even if they were still standing there. I was very envious.

[End of the English text]

カントリーサイド vs 田舎いなかはどうちがう?

  1. どものとき、ちょう生動物せいどうぶつましたか?
  2. 「うちはカントリーサイドじゃありません」
  3. 生動物せいどうぶつほんじゅう宅街たくがいみにくい
  4. 生動物せいどうぶつおおじゅうかんきょうほんでは「田舎いなか」という
  5. 米国べいこくのある然豊ぜんゆたかなじゅう宅街たくがいよう
  6. 米国べいこくじゅう宅街たくがい裏庭うらにわ
  7. 米国べいこくのカントリーサイドのイメージは?




辞書によれば、英語の「countryside (カントリーサイド)」は日本語の「田舎」に当たります。しかし、そのつもりで話をすると、アメリカ人と話が噛み合わないことがあります。








「イナカってcountryside (カントリーサイド) でしょ。私の住んでいたところはカントリーサイドじゃありません。家がたくさんある、レジデンシャルエリア (residential area、住宅街) です」と言いました。


「違いますよ! 普通の住宅街です。日本の住宅街には鹿がいないの?」と彼女は聞き返しました。




















一見日本のそれとはずいぶん違いますが、敷地は同じように業者が造成したものです。数十軒でひとつの区域 (サブディビジョン) になっていて、区域ごとに電気やガスや上下水道、ゴミの収集サービス、インターネットなどなどのインフラが整っているという点も、日本の住宅地と同じです。






さて、家の裏側、敷地の大きな部分を裏庭 (バックヤード) と呼びます。ここでは各家庭がそれぞれ自分たちの好きな活動の場にしています。塀のないお宅も多いので、道路からのぞける部分から、ここの人たちはどんな人たちかなと考えるのが楽しい。



















=>The City and the Countryside / 都会と田舎

=>Return to 2019 Posts / 2019年投稿記事へ戻る

=>Return to Home/「ホーム」へ戻る

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