Sunday, June 22, 2008

Home stay Inagi City June 21, 22

Wow! I didn’t think it could get any better, but I was wrong! The last two days have been absolutely incredible! First, we checked out of our hotel on Saturday to meet with our host families. We filed in to the second floor of the community center, and all of the families were there clapping for us as we came in. We have been so warmly welcomed everywhere we go. It’s going to be difficult going back to our modest lives after being treated like celebrities for two and a half weeks! While we were sitting there waiting for all of the JFMF teachers to file in, Amy commented that it was like waiting to get adopted. Who was going to take us home? I was actually sitting right across from my family and didn’t know it. Takahashi-san and his wife Mari stood when my name was called and ran right over to give me a welcome card they had made. It was so beautiful and thoughtful. My nervousness faded away quickly, because they were so enthusiastic about my visiting. In the picture you see Yushino, their daughter who is in university for music performance, Mari the mother who recently completed her study for special education, and Takahashi-san. He owns a music store which occupies the lower floor of the house. They live upstairs. He plays the trumpet and guitar, and Mari plays many different instruments including the harp, piano, and the Japanese flute. After dropping off my things and unpacking we went on a whirlwind tour of the area. I felt badly because they asked me about lunch. I said I wasn’t really hungry, which I wasn’t, but THEY hadn’t eaten. By the time we ate much later on, they were very hungry. We started by going to the twin towers in Shinjuku. That is a very busy business district. The view was great, though it was overcast. I couldn’t see Mount Fuji, but what I could see was great. There was also a children’s art show promoting healthy teeth. The pictures were incredible. Then we toured Tokyo a bit, and we ended up at a television station. We saw some of the animated characters, watched a live talk show, viewed a few people pretending to be newscasters, and they really wanted me to do it. So, I stood up and two children and another adult stood. We had to play paper, scissors, rock to see who would do the newscast. The other adult won both times. My family was disappointed, but it was fun to watch the others do the newscast. Then we went to a shrine and a museum. I’m sorry I’m so vague, but I’d have to go through all of my notes and pictures to get the correct names. I plan on coming back to all of the posts when I have more specifics. Then, Sunday morning we had breakfast and headed over to Mari’s parent’s house. Their home is very traditional with tatami mats. It’s funny though, you see the tatami and sliding doors and a fax machine. It is a real mix of the past and present. Mari’s father is an award winning photographer, so he showed me some of his gorgeous photos as we had tea and little plum gelatin cakes. Everything was fantastic! These are Mari's parents. I need to email them to get names again. I'm not great with names to begin with, and then we've met so many people. I know I should write these things down, but I think of it after the facts. Heh, I like to live in the moment. He generously gave me three large photos.Two of the photos were different shots of Mt. Fuji (which is good because I don’t think I will get a view of it with the rain), and one of the Golden Palace in Kyoto. They are amazing. Then we went to another beautiful shrine and lunch. The time flew by! They spoke limited English and I spoke NO Japanese, but they had an electronic translator and I had my dictionary. I hadn’t used the dictionary at all up until then, but it got a work out at my home stay. I also used phrases from the book Jill sent (thanks Jill). It has the pronunciation as well, and they said my Japanese was very good. These are pictures of a couple of the things I was given. They were incredibly generous. They even sent a gift for my mom!
It was very difficult to say goodbye at the end of the stay. We had such a good time, they were so incredibly kind, and I really enjoyed the time we had together. I will definitely be in touch with them! Well, I’ll write later about the ryokan (which is fabulous). I’m typing in the lobby now, but I want to post this, and we leave in about 30 min.


Richard said...

Hey, Anne! I'm glad you had such a wonderful time with your host family! Did you sing for your musical family? May you still get a clear view of Fujiyama!

Jill said...

I didn't realize that your stay with your host family was going to be so short! That sounded ideal! You got a taste of what it's like to live like a local, while still having the convenience of being independent for the better part of the trip. Although my host family was very nice, I don't know that I ever completely relaxed because I was worried about being a good guest. I suppose that's the advantage of traveling overseas as an adult rather than as a teenager!