One thing I really like about Tsukuba is the fact that very few people are originally from here. It has its drawbacks, because it means that the traditional culture of the area is a bit hard to spot (unlike in some parts of Japan where traditions have been passed down for hundreds of years and couldn’t be ignored if you tried), but there is also one, very big advantage. During the big Japanese holidays, like the New Year’s holidays and Obon (in August), everyone leaves Tsukuba and it becomes quiet and relaxing. I’m sure it drives merchants crazy, because they all want to have crowded stores during the holidays, but it always makes me feel like I have been given a free trip to somewhere quiet and un-bustling, without ever leaving my home. I guess for thrill seekers, this transformation is exactly what is wrong with our suburban city, but for people like me who seek a quieter, less complicated life, it is a wonderful gift.