New Experience in My Homestay

When I was arriving to the Japanese traditional style house, we drove through the mountain. There were lots of nature, and it was exactly the same image of the rural area that I have. My stereotype of the rural area is that there are many natures but it is less convenient. I could never see the convenience store or stations from the house, but I like the nature and it was comfortable in there.

My host parents like to watch foreign movies, and we watched it during the meals. We saw many movies and we were able to expand the topic of our conversation. We talked about the foods on every meal, and almost every food was brought by the father. He was a fisherman as it is the common job in Minamisanriku.

On the full day with my host family, we had a valuable experience helping the job as a new fisherman. The host father taught us the process of farming scallops, and we had experienced the first step of the process called “Pin-sashi.” We stab the pin through the rope to hang the shell. It was a very simple task, but I felt like I was a fisherman.

After we took a nap, we went to the beach. Bryson, Daniel, and me explored an uninhabited island called “Areshima,” trying to reach the opposite side of the island. There were many cliffs to reach the end, and the island was filled with danger, but we had a wonderful adventure!

We had a delicious takoyaki party for the dinner and had a great time with my host family and my friends. After the dinner, I had a chance to talk with my host mother about my business plan. She told me that it is an excellent plan to connect the senior citizens and children who are wait-listed for the kindergarten on the website. She said that there are many senior citizens in their community who are using an internet, and they want to involve with children. She gave me one problem that I should solve: to remove the suspense for accepting children. I thought it would be necessary to gain understandings for instance, to hold a meeting for the senior citizens, or make a user policy that would remove their suspicion. I will continue thinking for the best solutions for this problem.

Throughout this program, I am learning that it is important to talk, to ask, and to listen to people. It is also important to think actively before, during, and after the conversation as well.

Ryotaro Morimoto
Keio Shonon Fujisawa SHS

Local Sustainability in Minamisanriku

We left Shitamichi-sou in the morning. The people in there were very kind, and they showed us omotenashi so that we can have a good time staying.

For our first activity of the day, we went to Beans Club to experience tofu-making. It was actually my first time making tofu. Ms. Saijou and Ms. Abe taught us how to make tofu from soy beans step-by-step. I was impressed by the process of making tofu, and they were making tofu from soybeans. Also, the soybeans were harvested from the neighborhood, and I admired the local production for local consumption. We had a lot of fun making it, and eating tofu that we made was delicious.

Throughout this Japan part of the program, I have been thinking deeply about my new business idea to connect senior citizens and children who are wait-listed for the kindergarten on the website. While making the tofu, I talked with Ms. Saijou whether she wants to accept kids or not if there was that kind of website. She answered me, “No, because I’m tired of interacting with kids.” I thought that everyone has their own colors and everyone’s different. So, I think I should target the people who really wants to use my website and make it attractive for them.

After we ate tofu at lunch, we went to Iriyado and were given a lecture about the BIO composting system. Then we had a tour of Minamisanriku’s Biogas Generating System. Mr. Fujita guided us through the facilities. I liked how they recorded unwanted contaminants in the waste; even if a little bit of non-compostable objects were present, they would give a black sign that indicated it. Also, I like that they are supplying the electricity and fertilizer to the community.

I will continue developing my business idea and one concern is that I need to make sure that people, especially senior citizens, understand my intentions. Mr. Fujita said that to encourage the citizens’ usage of the BIO system, they often host assemblies and teach the community. Their tour gave me the idea to spread my idea to my target audience more effectively. As time passes, I am recognizing hurdles of my business plan, but I am working to figure out the best solutions for them. I will continue to improve my ideas through the application of lessons from the lectures and tours that I have experienced in the TOMODACHI program.

Ryotaro Morimoto
Keio Shonan Fujisawa SHS

Day of Development

In the morning, we had a discussion on “Hikikomori” with Mr. Kuramitsu. We asked questions about Hikikomori and compared this issue between American and Japanese youth. One thing that I asked him was “How we can help to prevent someone from becoming Hikikomori?” He said that people become Hikikomori by feeling different from others, so we need to make their safe place to make sure they are comfortable. I liked his work trying to make people to overcome the Hikikomori lifestyle.

After we finished our lunch, we went to the Kita Ward Disaster Prevention Center. We learned how to act when a fire happens in a building. It helped me understand a lot more about the way to minimize injuries when a fire happens. We also experienced the simulation of Great East Japan Earthquake. I felt very sad when I think of people in Tohoku region who had such a scary experience.

For the last activity, we went to IDEO office and were taught about the designing business. This activity was the most interesting to me. IDEO taught us how to create a disproportionate impact through design. The process of design thinking was my favorite.

  1. Design Research & Inspiration
  2. Synthesis & Strategy
  3. Brainstorming & Concept Development
  4. Prototyping & Storytelling

I will start my business in the future with the idea that I presented in Washington, D.C. I will repeat this process multiple times so that I can create a perfect and complete business plan. I think this process is very useful and applicable to every business as well, not just the designing business.

Every day after I come up with a new idea for my senior kindergarten online business, I am thinking deeply about my plan so that I can make it more feasible. I am learning even more about my own Japanese culture after returning from Washington, D.C. with my new, broader perspective of the world and I will continue to create new and improved ideas for my business every day.

Ryotaro Morimoto
Keio Shonan Fujisawa SHS

Bryson’s Day with Ryotaro

I slept at Ryotaro’s house for my homestay last night. His parents are so kind! I offered to help with the dishes after dinner last night and after breakfast this morning, but they said that I did not have to do anything since I am a guest. Ryotaro’s father joked that I did not even need to breathe! I did feel nervous because my Japanese is sub-par, but they are very welcoming and comfortable with speaking in English.

We went back to the Ninja House to meet with the other TOMODACHI students, and the train was quite the adventure. First, Ryotaro explained that the first car was the best since it is the least crowded, so we went there. Upon entering, I noticed that most occupants were women, then I realized that everyone on the train was a woman except for the two of us. Ryotaro and I had not noticed the “Women’s Car” signs! We switched cars and continued on our odyssey. Then our train stopped and the announcement came that our line, the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line, was shut down for a safety concern. We took a bus, which was free because we had received transfer tickets as an apology for the shut down, and met the rest of the program only a little late.

After the program, I took the train with Ryotaro and his parents met us at the station. We drove to a conveyer belt sushi restaurant and they treated me to many new foods. I am adamant about my dislike of seafood, but it was so good there! I had very many fish-based sushi, and also tried a natto roll. Ryotaro’s father said that 70% of foreigners dislike natto, so I guess that I am one of the 30%! I enjoyed the simplicity, and its common disapproval among foreigners reminded me of the Russian borsche*, which I enjoy because my family is Russian but most Americans dislike it.

Ryotaro’s parents also bought me an omiyage of matcha tea powder after dinner which I did not expect but greatly appreciate. I learned some more Japanese during dinner as well; Ryotaro’s mother seemed very happy to teach me! I still have much to learn though, and I will not stop learning during this exchange or afterwards.

Bryson Torgovitsky
Washington Latin PCS

Ryotaro’s mid-point reflection

In the D.C. part of this program, I learned that there are diversities in America such as people, culture, and their thinking. All people, all cultures, and all of their ways of thinking were different but they were all valued. Through discussing the differences between Japan and America, we were able to look into the bottom part of the iceberg and I broadened my perspective. One more thing that I liked was the workshop on social entrepreneurship. The process of coming up with new ideas was very impressive, and it helped me create a new business idea. I learned a lot from this program: I broadened my perspective, created a new business idea, and understood about a new culture. In the Japan part of this program, I would like to understand more about Japan deeply by bringing back my experiences in D.C., and look into the bottom part of the iceberg of Japanese culture.

Ryotaro Morimoto
Keio Shonan Fujisawa SHS

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!

Excellent Environment + Excellent Idea + Excellent Action = Excellent Success

We had less activities today, but we still learned a lot. In the morning, we took a bus to Georgetown. It was my first time to get on the public bus in D.C. In the front of the bus, there were bike lifts for people who had ridden their bicycles to the bus stop. We don’t have that kind of service in Japan, so it was surprising for me.

In Georgetown, we visited the Halcyon House, a social innovation incubator, to meet Mark Malloy. I was especially excited because I dream of starting my own business in the future. Mr. Malloy, who founded a sunglasses company, guided us through Halcyon, and we met other social entrepreneurs who were working in the house. The entrepreneurs live at the house for several months in an excellent environment for a businessman. There are many apartments with: bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and bedroom. There is also a large conference room, and even a pool on the balcony. When I start my business, I would like to live in that kind of excellent environment so that I can have a successful beginning.

In the conference room, we asked Mr. Malloy some questions. I asked about the challenges of starting a business and if an entrepreneur ask themselves “What makes you mad?” as a way to create ideas for new businesses. He answered me that money is the biggest challenge at every point in business management. I thought about the other entrepreneurs who we had met during the D.C. program, and they said the same thing. Each businessperson told us that they faced financial problems in the beginning of their business. Mr. Malloy also confirmed that asking ourselves “What makes you mad?” is a good method for creating new ideas. I came up with a new business idea by asking a similar question to myself, and I shared it at the D.C. final presentation.

We returned to the American Councils and prepared for the final presentation which we would give the next day. For an hour, we all shared personal stories about what we learned through this part of the exchange. We also assigned the sections that we would cover for the final presentation. I was given: meeting with immigrants at CHEC, social entrepreneurship, the TOYOTA career panel TOYOTA, sharing Japanese culture with young students at CHEC, and quilting as a method of storytelling. Overall, I felt a bit nervous about the presentation but also exciting.

During the final presentation, I unveiled my new business plan. My plan is that senior citizens will accept children who are wait-listed for kindergarten through a website of my own design. It is the first time that I have thought of a business plan so earnestly, and I feel it is a good plan for my first business.

I learned a lot in this D.C. part of the program. The biggest thing that I learned in America is that, there is much diversity. People, their cultures, and their ways of thinking were different but they were all still valued. I hope to learn more about Japan by sharing stories about my experience in D.C., which will give me the means to look into the part of the Japanese culture iceberg which is normally hidden underwater.

Ryotaro Morimoto
Keio Shonan Fujisawa SHS

MLK Reflections


We went to the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. There are a lot of quotations which Martin Luther King Jr said. We have a lot of choice but I chose this one.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

I like this sentence. It is because this is totally truth and makes me feel stay in positive. And this is most simple to understand. I think simple to understand is important and simple sentence has strong power. It is because we can understand it directly.


I found this quote really inspiring because it first started off with an obvious metaphor, that darkness with darkness is still in darkness and light is needed, so the same logic can be easily applied to a simple yet difficult answer. If one retaliates and fights back with hate, we would never be able to break the endless cycle of hatred. Only love can pull us all out of it. LOVE trumps hate.


“I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world.”

This is my favourite quote because this quote tells us not only the importance of peace but the historical background on it. MLK joined the anti-Vietnam War movement, although his action was not accepted for other African Americans. I am proud of his bravery which gave us peace for today and tomorrow.

Bryson – Speech for Ordinary Freedom:

“We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.”

As a person who is fascinated (and horrified) by the circumstances of both World Wars, Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote from a speech in California in 1967 instantly caught my attention. There have been protestors during various wartimes who advocate against war, but I have felt as though something was always missing from their movements. Dr. King identified that for me in the second sentence of this quote; “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.” Movements against violence and tyranny are inherently positive in my opinion, but I agree with Dr. King that those movements must also consist of an effort to improve human conditions as they protest the powers that worsen them.

When Shizumi Manale visited our class last Thursday, I was moved by her film about the Hiroshima Children’s Art Project. Her inclusion of the reaction that a reverend of All Souls Church had to an A-Bomb cake which was served at an American military dinner, after the Japanese surrendered in 1945, provoked sadness, anger, and disgust in my mind simultaneously. The movement by that same reverend, and the people of All Souls Church, to help the children impacted by the United States atomic bombing of Hiroshima was inspiring to me. Not only did the community at All Souls speak against the shameful practices of the United States armed forces, they took action to help the people who were the targets of those practices. In my opinion, that response to injustice is a successful application of Martin Luther King Jr’s quote on the successful stoppage of war.


“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” Norway, 1964

I like this quote because we can see the background of American history. From the word “audacity,” we could see that they needed to be brave to express themselves in 1964, and what they expressed were ordinary things currently. I felt sad that they didn’t have their freedom; however, I’m also relieved that they expressed themselves.

Shawma – Question what is not Questioned

What makes a MAN? Who makes a MAN? Some people are born into this world living their lives without ever questioning anything. Then you have others who question everything that crosses their path. Martin Luther King was one of those people. He was born into a world where it is normal for a person to be judged by the color of their skin and not the content of their character. Martin Luther King was a MAN because it was not in the moments of comfort and convenience where he stood, it was at times of challenge and controversy where he questioned what was normal.

I question what is normal. Identified by the color of my skin. Why do people care what I am? They should care who I am.The term African American is used as a normal term to identify me, but I am not African. I am not African American. My father nor mother are African. My father is a Jamaica immigrant, my mother is half white and half black. I don’t and never will I understand why I am called African American. I have African ancestry in my blood but I also have European ancestry in my blood. Why do people pick the ancestry that defines me?

If an African immigrant immigrated to the US and becomes a US citizen does it make them African American? Africans who become US citizens are the true African Americans. When I speak out about this, people think I hate my skin color. This is not true. I love my skin but I will not be called something I am not. Why do we live in a society where it is ok for a job application to ask for my nationality? Why do you care about the color of my skin? Does the color of my skin determine whether I get the job or not? For me I like to be called black. Black is a term used for all people who have brown or dark skin. Black is not defined by where you come from; it’s defined by all people who have darker skin. Black is unity, but African American is division. I speak out and question the world because comfort and convenience do not lead me a step forward in the right direction. In times of challenge and controversy lead me in the right direction.


This quote stands out to me because it reminds me of the time in 6th grade, when I was struggling to make reliable friends. My family would tell me to find friends who would stick with me through thick and thin, not the ones that I can just have a stable conversation with. Now I compare the friends I have now to the “friends” I had then, and I think of a time I was sad at the lunch table, over a completely stupid reason, and everyone was worried about me, but the “friends” I had in the 6th grade would just brush off my depression. Advice like the ones in this MLK quote taught me the types of people I should surround myself with and the types of people I can trust.

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.

Act for the Future

This morning, we went to Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in the morning. John W. Franklin, the senior manager, guided us through part of the museum. We were lucky that we could get into the museum before it opened, and we learned a lot about the African American History such as slavery, discrimination, prejudice, and the activist movements.

Next, we visited the “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. We deepened our knowledge about what happened to Japanese-Americans as a result of World War II. As a student from Japan, I felt disappointed about the treatment of Japanese-Americans, especially, justifying the propaganda of discrimination against Japanese during the war.

At the end of the day, Scott Rechler organized a workshop on social entrepreneurship for us. We started this activity with the question: “What makes you mad?”. We split into groups of four and discussed our responses, proposed solutions to one of our problems, and presented those solutions to our teachers. My group chose distracted walking as our problem. We came up with a solution where we would sell free phones that have hardware which disables the screen when the user is moving above a certain speed and our hardware makes profit through advertisements from investors.

This activity was the most interesting experience to me because I felt connected to it. I plan to start a business in the future, and I often think about the ways to earn profits in the business. During this activity, I made a discovery. I liked Mr. Rechler’s process for coming up with a business idea. In his workshop, I realized a simple way to come up with ideas was by asking the question, “What makes you mad?” I asked Mr. Rechler a new question at the end of the workshop. Do people ask themselves, what makes you mad, in the actual situation of starting a business? He told me that there are people who start the business in this way, but he also said that you can ask yourself; “What makes you happy?” I also learned that it is important to find an idea that meets the needs of the customers and the investors for business success, and you must have a reliable process for creating new ideas and fundraising.

There are many things that I learned during this program so far, but there are still many things that surprise me. I discover new things and having valuable experiences every day. I’m looking forward to experiencing more through TOMODACHI, and I want to learn, understand, and think more deeply to understand the essence of life and to be a person who can be critical and creative.

Ryotaro Morimoto
Keio Shonan Fujisawa SHS