These past few days have been ones that I will NEVER FORGET. On August 10th, myself, Rey, and Chi packed up and traveled to our farmstay. It was so fun! When we first arrived at the house we would be staying at, I was so surprised! It was a beautiful cozy cabin at the top of the mountains that was powered completely by Solar energy and water sourced from a spring well built by the family after the tsunami as a safe place to go if a disaster happens again. At first, I was super nervous about meeting and staying with my host family, but after just a few minutes of meeting my host brothers, I felt completely welcome and comfortable. My host brothers’ names were Kai (7) and Daichi (2), my host mother’s name is Mei Sato, and my host father’s name is Frank Sato. As soon as we got into the truck, Kai, in Japanese, spoke to us about bugs and showed us pictures of them in a book he had. I felt so happy because you could feel how passionate he was about what he told us. He was very interested in what bugs and plants we had in the US.
My host mother knew some English since her husband is American, so communicating was not hard for us at all. When we first arrived, we took out the things we would need to take a bath since we would travel to a public bath later on. Then we headed to the Sato’s main house further down the mountain. The house we arrived at is the one that was affected by the tsunami. Inside the house, our host mother showed us a line on the wall close to the ceiling and told us that it was where the water reached on 3.11. Something very shocking that she told us was that the cat they had named MiMi survived on the top of their house during the tsunami. I was very surprised.
When we settled down in the house, Kai turned on a movie for us as we ate some delicious Japanese style chili. Everytime we attempted to look down at our food “Miiiiiiiiiite” Kai would yell. He even knew the lines of the movie. He was so cute, I loved how much he cared! Daichi, don’t get me started. He was a ball of energy who liked to be chased and had to copy Kai’s every move. Then we headed to the public bath. It was nice, it looked like a hot spring. By now we were so exhausted, so on the ride home we slept as the car glided over the beautiful hills leading up to our homestay. When we got back to the environmentally friendly house, we slept soundly.
The next day we woke up and hiked to the main house. On the way there Kai identified almost every plant we came across. He amazed me at how much he knew about the environment. When we got to the house, we ate Raisin Bran and Yogurt. When we first arrived at the house we noticed a wheel similar to the one that we saw at the Women’s Eye Headquarters, so today we asked about it. Ms. Sato took it out and showed us how she makes yarn from sheep’s’ wool that she gets from someone in the neighborhood who has sheep. We even got to try it for ourselves. After a few tries, I got it right and spun some wool yarn. It was super fun. We also drank some delicious tea with berries that we picked during the hike inside of it. Those berries were so strange, they made our mouths tingly and numb.Then Daichi’s 2 year old friend “Ko-kun” came over with his mother and we walked down to the ocean front. It was so fun, I was surprised at how unhesitant all of the kids including Chi were to jump into the water with their clothes on. It was a sight to see!
This night was truly my favorite, Kai pulled out some glowsticks and walked back to the house swinging the glow sticks, chasing Daichi, and taking pictures. I loved it so much, I am getting emotional just thinking about it. Then we headed back to the house, got our things, went to the sustainable house, got ready for a bath, took our bath, ate dinner, and hit the haystack.
The next morning, our last day at our homestay, we had the chance to meet and have breakfast with our host father who travels to another part of Japan for a few days out of the week to teach English. He spoke to us about his experiences coming to Japan, teaching English, and using the resources available in the environment around his house. He took pride in the wood he cut down from the forest behind the house. The cedar smelled so good! Before we had to meet up with the group, Mr. Sato took us on a short hike behind their house to see a very old graveyard and the different types of plants that they had. It was very interesting. Then something scary happened, I saw a snake!!! My heart was beating out of my chest, then I got over it because everything was so beautiful. Then we packed up our things and said our goodbyes to Kai and Daichi. It was so intense, I only knew these people for less than three days, but we really felt like family. My eyes watered up when we took our last pictures and said our last goodbyes. On the ride to meet up with the rest of the group, our host father gave us his opinions on the Mayor and his intentions with rebuilding the city. Let’s just say he’s not his biggest fan. Then we arrived at the TOMODACHI meeting spot.
The experience was so touching. I learned about how to truly coexist with nature. Not to mention detaching from society, we had no wifi! No unlimited electricity! No shower! An outdoor toilet. Wow, I truly experienced things that I would never have had the chance to otherwise. I am so happy that I had this chance because I realized that it doesn’t take much to be happy. I also involuntarily realized that bugs and small animals aren’t that scary because Kai always held them up to our face. Thanks! I got a chance to experience a contrasting lifestyle to my own and learn from it. I am so grateful!
Banneker Academic HS