Home stayLast Edit: 21 Jun 2017 | Japan
All of the host families were in a single room; it was chaos. I had to look around for awhile but eventually I found the sign with my name on it. There stood Kaoru-san and Kino-chan (mother and daughter) smiling. Jin-san (later he said I could call them Jin-papa and Kaoru-mama :)) was still at work but was home around 8pm for the end of dinner. はじめまして (hajimemashite - nice to meet you).
Kaoru-mama got me settled in and told me to make myself at home while she made dinner. We exchanged details about ourselves which was difficult and relied heavily on Google translate but Kaoru-san and Kino-chan speak pretty good English (えいご, eigo) making up for my non-existent Japanese (にほんご - nihongo).
As we were finishing up dinner Jin-papa arrived and we quickly started talking mechanics. He works for a company that makes tools for checking tolerances on select automotive parts and makes some aftermarket parts. While many words are different talking machines somehow seemed easier than many other topics and we continued to talk about such things for the 2 days.
After dinner I gave the family my presents from Oregon. This is a tradition in Japan called みやげ (miyage). I had not had a chance to wrap my presents which probably made a bad impression as many people say that to the Japanese the presentation is very important but the sensei in our nihongo class said it would be fine. I apologized for not wrapping and they said it was fine and seemed to like the book on Sasquatch I brought them and other gifts.
The Japanese home
There are a number things I immediately noticed and very much appreciate or have come to appreciate about the Japanese home.
- The main floor is a step up from the space for shoes just inside the door. You do not wear shoes inside the home in Japan and I find the way they create a space that makes it easy to do amazing.
- The toilet gets its own room.
- The top of the toilet bowl is used as a sink. The tank fill water is run threw a faucet that turns on when you flush.
- Bidet. Why don’t we use these in the US? They really are nice - heated seat, easier/ better cleaning of yourself…
- Shower room. Look it up. I may post on this later but you can explore for yourself for now.
After breakfast we hung out and then went and met Kaoru-san’s mother and saw her younger sisters jewelry workshop. Her parents and sister live next door. Then we went and saw the community garden just down the street. They grow onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, green pepper, shiso (mint/basil like) and more. There l met Kaoru-san’s father he is a great gardener.
At noon Kino-chan had badminton practice. We dropped her off and headed to the art museum where Kaoru-san’s sister works. No pictures were allowed inside but the main exhibit was and incredible woodcarving artist named Bikky. I really appreciated his work. Outside the museum you could see the ocean and Jin-papa pointed out one spot he likes to fish.
After picking up Kino-chan a nap, we went and did a little bit of weeding. I volunteered and it seemed like Jin-papa wouldn’t have done any that day (Saturday) except that I asked. Koaru-mama started making dinner as we came back (roles are very traditional in many Japanese families). We ran to the super market quick to get some things and to show me what to look for. The way to pick fish is by proximity so I am basically out of luck. :( Please help me Google! While we were gone Kino-chan drew a picture of me. :)
After dinner Jin-papa showed me one of his creations. A fishing line winder (he likes fishing a lot). He used one of the composites from work and gears from a printer it’s beautiful.
The rest of the night we just hung out talking about all sorts of things until we went to bed. Oh I also had this beer that kinda reminded me of a good old Pennsylvania Yuengling.
We got going a bit quicker this morning and I had promised to look at Kaoru-san’s bicycle. It like many bikes in Japan has electric assist. It took some time for me to understand what was happening. The assist was powering while breaking and turning (this is really bad, I personally like to be able to stop). Having not worked on one of these before it was time for some exploration.
I wrote a separate post on the process of fixing the power assisted bike.
After maybe fixing her bike, we went and got lunch at a Soba restaurant. Soba is buckwheat and there are a ton of things made/flavored with it but primarily it’s made into noodles. It was really good and we celebrated father’s day and Jin-papa got a really good looking desert. After lunch, the whole family went to do some garden work. In the garden they have these cool spinners to scare off birds and the till was really quiet. It was fun to work and talk and really get to know more about their normal lives.
And then very quickly it was time to take me back to Sokendai for one more orientation day. It was really nice staying with them and they were amazing host. とてもたのしかったです(totemo tanoshikatta desu - it was a lot of fun)
I hope to get to hang out with them some this summer. Kaoru-mama wants to see bike Polo and we set up a group in the app LINE for us to talk and stay in touch with. Thank you so much Jin-papa, Kaoru-mama, and Kino-chan!!!!