Though we still have a temporary home with friends here in Sôka we will also move to a place here so I can already show you a little bit of my new hometown Sôka.
Sôka is a medium sized town in the outskirts of Tokyo, belonging to the prefecture Saitama. It has about 240.000 residents with ca. 1,9% or about 4500 foreigners living here according to the Sôka town homepage. Japan in general has a 2 percent ratio of foreigers who live here so Sôka is quite average. Though here in Sôka you might get the feeling that it’s even more because of the many foreign students that come to study for a semester or two at the Dokkyô University (including me about 7 years ago ^^)
The vicinity to Tokyo and the very useful direct connection into town with the Tobu Line and Hibiya Line make Sôka a great place to search for a place to stay even when you work in downtown Tokyo. It takes about 25 minutes to Ueno (where you can switch to the Yamanote Line) with a slow train that stops at every station. In Düsseldorf some of my coworkers had a commute of 40 minutes (from inside Düsseldorf) so I think with 40-45 minutes from Sôka to the other side of Tokyo is really not bad.
But most famous is Sôka for its Senbei, the much-loved rice crackers. Sôka Senbei are hard rice-crackers (there are also soft ones) and in town you can find about 60 traditional Senbei producers and retailers. On the street where I live right now I counted 7 so far. As an easily portable food it became were popular during the Edô period and Sôka is now synonymous for Senbei. Though some Senbei are made by a machine there are still a lot of producers that make them the traditional way.
Because I spend my semester abroad here the town really feels familiar which I think is helping with easing into the thought that I am living in Japan now. I think there is a lot more to see and do and I will be reporting on all the places I discover.
For now here are some photos I took along the way.
First seen on Sumikai