Host Family Days

I went to sea and shrine. The shrine is at the top of the island. I saw many crows on top of the mountain. Also I heard a story from my host family about the day before 3/11. There was many crows on the mountain before 3/11 and she found it strange. There are still a lot of crows since 3/11, so I think the crows have the ability to predict natural disasters. It also reminds me of my story because I saw a lot of crows the day before as well. When I told my mother that I saw the crow she said something might happen. It was a very strange experience, I wonder.

So next I went to the sea where I saw many blowfish. I want to eat the blowfish. One thing that was really fun was when we made a rope and connected a needle to it so baby clams can grow on it, my host family’s father is a fisherman so it was really interesting.

We made takoyaki from the octopus that our host father caught, it was so cool and delicious!!! There are two kinds that we made: cheese and ginger. I loved both.

Hideaki Tanji
Fukushima Prefectural High School

Coming to Kesennuma 

Today we came to Kesennuma, Miyagi, one of the cities in Tohoku area. I miss the Ninja House because we really enjoyed staying there. But we will go back there again after the Tohoku trip. We used the Shinkansen (bullet train) to go to Tohoku, so we could arrive here fast. When we arrived in Kesennuma, the town was foggy and it felt humid.

First we went to the Kesennuma Tourist Information Center. We listened to the story about 3.11 and also went for a guided walking tour around the once disaster area. The guide was led by Mr. Miura. We learned what happened on that day. In particular, I was interested in the height of the tsunami was lower than other in the nearby coastal area in Tohoku because of Oshima Island which sits right on the coast of Kesennuma. The island is long from north to south so it weakened the tsunami coming inland. There was also ancient historical site about ten thousand years ago on a hill. The guide said since there are no tectonic plates under this area, it is a safe area. I thought ancient people knew this kind of things and built their communities in the high area. Mr. Miura did this “Kataribe” (story telling) as a volunteer. He likes to talk with people and meet new people. Even though he was affected by the earthquake and the tsunami, he still wants to help his community recover. His attitude made me inspired. I thought even if there are many sad things, people can still find something passionate to keep them moving forward.

In front of the Fish Market in Kesennuma, noting the blue sign marking the high water level of the 3-11 tsunami.

After dinner, we went to Guesthouse Kakehashi. One of the guest speakers, Atsutoshi Tanaka, was the owner of the guesthouse. He made the guesthouse so that volunteers who come to Kesennuma can stay at a relatively low cost. He told us that it is alright to fail or make mistakes. His words gave me the courage to try new things. Actually, I tried a new thing right after his story. At the guesthouse, they served us with many kinds of sashimi, including shark’s heart. I have never tried shark’s heart before but I thought I needed to try it. It was something that I have never tasted before. It was chewy and did not have a strong taste. Even though it was a small thing, I was encouraged by the words from Mr. Tanaka.

From listening to the stories from Mr. Miura and Mr. Tanaka, my goal to share and to tell Tohoku people’s stories to other people through and after the TOMODACHI Program became stronger.

Hideaki Tanji
Fukushima Prefectural High School

Hide’s Reflection on his DC experience

One of the memorable parts of the trip was going to a Japanese camp exhibition from World War 2. There was many rare things. In particularI saw a letter which was written by a man from the camp. It was my first time seeing such an old letter. I learned how Americans thought about Japan and what happened to Japanese Americans in the US. Also I learned the hidden history which I haven’t learned in textbooks in Japan. I felt a little shocked. But now we can create new relationship. It is difficult to apologize for our mistakes but we must do that. I think we can make a better world by learning from history.

I enjoyed staying with a host family. We did many activities together. We went to skating with my host family. It was a little challenging because skating is almost first time for me. But I really enjoyed. It is one of my good memories in America. And I went to bowling too. The bowling is in a military base. Sometimes I got spares and strikes. Also, we went to the Chesapeake Beach. We swam in the beach and flew kites. It was a relaxing day. My host family were really kind to me. I was surprised that my host mother and host father split the housework. Even the children helped. In Japan, only my mother does the housework. When I go back home, I would like to help my mother.

In this trip, I learned in depth about American culture, diversity, and lifestyle. It had opened my mind to think about the world in a broader way.

Hideaki Tanji
Fukushima Prefectural High School

Japanese Favorites!

Ready for take off! Our Japanese TOMODACHI students reflect on their favorite things from the DC part of the exchange. Now on to Japan!

Favorite Food: Cheese. I had the chance to try out various kinds but above all, I truly recommend Brie.
Favorite Place: Busboys and Poets.
Favorite Memory: At the dorm, playing hand games and card games or just talking about random stuff with my friends from DC.

Favorite Food: Lasagna (by host father) and banana bread (host mother).
Favorite Place: Farmer’s Market.
Favorite Memory: Time playing board games with my host family.

Favorite Food: Macaroni and cheese.
Favorite Place: Takoma Park.
Favorite Memory: I cooked Japanese food but my host family couldn’t eat it.

Favorite Food: Fried chicken.
Favorite Place: Busboy and Poets. I want to have it in Japan.
Favorite Memory: The day I went to see the stadium with my host family. The stadium was so large.

Favorite Food: American soul food, in particular, macaroni and cheese.
Favorite Place: My host family’s home and bowling place and the river.
Favorite Memory: I like Marco Polo and skating!

Favorite Food: Steak! I went to the LongHorn Steakhouse with my host family,and it was delicious!
Favorite Place: Military base! I went with my host family!
Favorite Memory: TOMODACHI!

Many New Ideas

Today we went to the Holocaust Museum.  I learned the history of how the German people were manipulated and attacked the Jews. The most impressive thing is Hitler’s idea that Germans’ head shape and eye size make them superior. There were also the gates and fences to prevent the Jews from crossing the borders. Most of all, there was a book about very old Egyptian myths. A long long time ago, Jews were slaves. But then, they were free. So people in the 1940s reading the book remembered the struggles they were facing. They thought they would be free again, just like the book. I was impressed that the Jews had hope even in terrible conditions. I think we can have hope anytime anywhere. The museum was very easy to understand because the guide was great and there were many pictures and images.

Next we talked about the diversity in America. America has diversity. But some say America does not have its own culture. America has lots of different people. Japan has lots of Japanese people. So Japan has more culture because Japanese are more alike.

We went to the Natural History Museum. There, I saw many creatures, pictures, and models. I touched a big cockroach that was from Madagascar. And I saw a very beautiful crystal!

Then we went to TRUMP Hotel. We took some pictures in front of the hotel.

Today, we learned and discussed a lot. I enjoyed it.

Hideaki Tanji
Fukushima Prefectural High School

Weekend Home Stays

Nice tender family – by Natsuho

I played tennis with Rey and her host father. We took a bicycle to the place where we can play tennis but it made me little bit tired because it was hot and we have to go up many hills. It was my first time to play tennis but it was really fun for me because Rey’s host father is a tennis coach so he was good coach for me too. After we played tennis we were going back to my host family’s house and having a nice lunch. We had cheese, sausages, vegetables and so on. Cheese is one of my favorite food and US has many kinds of cheese so I am happy to eat them. After we ate our lunch we played a puzzle together. I never do puzzle with my family but it is good thing to play puzzle with family because we can have nice conversations. What I found from this weekend experiences is family should do something together to be a nice tender family.

New TOMODACHI – by Ryotaro

My host family and I went to the Chesapeake Beach on the weekend. It was raining in the beginning, but it turned to hot sunny weather. I swam in the water with my host family, and we had fun. I also talked with a fisherman, a man who was flying a kite, and people who were playing American football. I found it interesting talking with the people, and everyone was friendly. On the beach, there were people who were playing soccer. I asked them if I can join them, but they only spoke Spanish. I used gestures to join in, and they let me in. I played beach soccer with them and enjoyed. I also learned some Spanish and taught Japanese using gestures as well. I became friends with them and took pictures! This was the most wonderful experience this weekend and it was great!

I learned that we can connect and be TOMODACHI through sports, gestures, and smiles, even when we cannot communicate by using language.

Ko’s Weekend

Saturday was my host sister’s birthday. We strolled around the Eastern Market in the morning. It was so crowded, and there were many shops. Other than shops, there were many people who sold paintings made by themselves. It was wonderful to see many people expressing themselves.

In the evening, we went to Georgetown to celebrate Taylor’s birthday. I met Taylor’s friends, and they were very friendly. One of her friends had a sleepover at my house, so we watched a movie “Karate Kid” until late at night.

Sunday, I woke up late because we had nothing to do. So we went to the Lincoln Memorial at noon. At the Memorial, I found a plate that said “MLK was here.” It was a great view. Inside there was a big statue of Lincoln. I was so surprised to see people from many countries came to see Lincoln.

On the way home, I took a photo of me with the Capitol.

In the evening, I went to a house of my host mother’s friends to do a barbecue. He was a professor in a university in China, so many Chinese students came too. I learned many things about China.

This weekend, I had experienced many things. I am satisfied!!

Try New – by Yuuki

My host family always helps me to try new things. In my host family, there are no children but we have two cats. My host mother and father taught me how to play with the cats since I’d never played with cats. On Saturday, I spent a whole day with my host family. We made waffles together and went to a farm market in the morning. It was my first time to go to a farm market and there are a lot of fruits and vegetables which I saw for the first time. In the evening, we went to the vegan restaurant at Clarksville and I tried a burger with BBQ sauce. Ice “cream” was my favourite. They teach me many board games too. We’ve already played three board games and there are more at home. I enjoy having time with them and every time I get something new.

Sunday was a day I walked a lot. I visited the National Zoo with Chi and Bryson. I saw many animals I haven’t met before. The photo shows orangutans walking on the wire. We played Pokemon Go there and headed for Bryson’s house. I played with his three dogs and read some of his Manga. It was such a nice day for me.

I am glad that I had great friends and host family. I will continue trying new things without forgetting my feelings of appreciation for them.

Hide’s Weekend

This is my diary entry about my weekend. On Saturday, my host family, Ryotaro and I went to Chesapeake Beach. I played with kites with a stranger on the beach. He was very kind and friendly. I also talked with a fisherman because I like fishing. The bait was bigger than what I use in Fukushima’s river. I had a lot of fun.

On Sunday, we went bowling. The bowling area is in the military base. We had hamburgers and fries for snacks. The meat was thick. I used honey-mustard in my burger. It was my first time but I liked it. At home, I played with my host brothers and sisters. We played with wii and a Japanese game called “darumaotoshi.”

This weekend was a lot of fun because I was able to experience many things.

Rey’s Weekend

This weekend with my host family was superb! We didn’t go anywhere special or fancy but instead we experienced what their usual weekends were like. For instance on Saturday, we biked up and down the steep hills to get to a tennis court, and played tennis early in the morning. Even though I’ve never played tennis before, my host father taught me how to swing the racket and we were all playing a game in no time. After tennis, we went to our neighbor’s house for lunch. Because I told them I love cheese, they got me various kinds of cheese I’ve never eaten before including the Havarti. They were so good I couldn’t stop reaching for a piece right after another! The two families also got together to complete a kite puzzle which was quite an achievement.