Finally I get to talk about my amazing homestay in Japan, with my host sister A.T. and her family. Before I even got to the house they were being hospitable. Hospitality is a huge part of Japanese culture and I had heard so much about it, so I was extremely excited.
We met up with our hosts on Keio University’s campus and then they took us home. The subway ride to her house was quite interesting. Besides the subway system and there being turnstiles inside the train station when you wanted to change lines, my host sister carried my bag! This was entirely new to me. I know that it is the hospitable and nice thing to do but in America I was so used to carrying my own weight. It wasn’t as funny as seeing little H.O. though lugging around Atiya’s bag however. When we arrived at our station we made a quick stop at their house, then off to a traditional style restaurant. Not until now a couple months after the trip have I realized how Japanese people park. Every time we parked anywhere they would park backwards so with the front facing out and back of the car facing in.
Like I expected, we left our shoes downstairs before we enter the “house,” then stepped up into the house and wore slippers. The house was surprisingly very modern and western. I was hoping to have seen a more traditional house, but they did have one traditional room where her mom mainly slept rather than her designated room upstairs where I stayed. Several other students had found the same thing; their families had one traditional room as well. From this observation I inferred that the younger generations preferred the modern and western feeling homes, while the older generations felt more comfortable in traditional settings. My host family was so kind, I felt a little bad for taking her mom’s room, which had a beautiful view of Mount Fuji. Waking up to such a beautiful view was breathtaking.
Then came the dining experience. For my first homestay meal it was incredible. It was both delicious and I got to see more hospitality in the work force. I got to try Fugu! The deadly puffer fish. I was a little nervous at first but excited to branch out and try new foods. Fugu turned out to be very delicious and I had other types of fish. Our server was very cute; she served us tea, came in and checked on us periodically, when we had our hot pot she would come in and scoop up the grease. It was an overall great first experience and we had a nice conversation about our families. Some things I had expected and did see were the small cars, slipper situation, constantly feeding me, and showering first, bathing afterwards. The breakfast was better than any I had in America – little sausages, eggs, a little salad, yogurt, etc. The breakfasts and quite frankly every meal were amazing. The meals were some of the things I looked forward to the most. They were always checking in on me, and her mom always offered me tea and more food to keep me fed.
While I stayed with them they took me to a ramen museum and a cup noodle museum. Ramen was my ultimate goal and I ate more Ramen than possible. I enjoyed spending time with my host sister and mother at these really cool cultural places. I learned quite a bit about ramen and cup noodles on this trip. Even though I stayed in a home stay, I only saw my host father twice, mainly because he is a pilot and doesn’t come home often. However I enjoyed my time with the whole family. I think the main reason I enjoyed this stay the most was how similar our families were. My mom doesn’t really work but is a choir director; A.T.’s mom is an interior coordinator and stays home often. My dad was a pilot and is in the air force and was gone often like A.T.’s father. My brother is in college and her sister is in college in the USA. In fact her sister goes to the college my aunt teaches at. Our families have so much in common and I felt at home in Japan.
School Without Walls