Thursday, September 12, 2013

Home Stay Weekend Part One

Finally Homestay post, It has been a while and I am not sure myself why I put it off so much. Perhaps I was nervous and letting myself recover before posting? I don't know. As time got closer to the weekend the homestay was supposed to
happen I become more and more hesitant, to the point where I began to second guess my choice. It was too late I had to go through with it.

An interesting fact though, my homestay family was one of the students I met during my internship earlier in the week. I had suspicions that it was going to her, because I had some information about the family and her name was on it, and she spoke good English as well. I got lucky!

The first night was a little awkward due to just being put into someone's home (I was invited of course, but still) for the weekend, you know just being an observer of a family that would be hard to connect with...I was picked up by the mother and the two children, and we went back to my home for the weekend.

I wasn't sure what to do or what I should do. We were told not to bring laptops or anything like that because we're supposed to spend all of our time with the family (I understood that, but still). So arriving at my weekend home I quickly looked around and realized the home was very modern, a Japanese town house with a drive way. These guys are what greeted me:

 I was showed to my room and was given time to settle in. I went back into the family room and began to speak English to the kids with a little Japanese. There was some silences between us as the kids played their DS and played with the cats, speaking of the cats there were three, starting from the left Purin, Luna and the third cat was called Melon (I wasn't able to get a picture of him because he continuously attacked my cellphone because of my charms).

After an awkward 30 minutes the mother started talking to me strictly in Japanese, I understood what she would say to me, but I was too nervous to respond so I would revert back to English. After stumbling with the little girl's English and me stumbling with simple words I started to respond back in simple Japanese.

Good Job Claire.

As I continued to take Japanese I noticed that I become nervous when talking, and I'm sure that I've said this man times but it's the true. And because I notice this I should try to improve on it right? I'm trying and it's kinda working, but not really, Anyways...

After maybe 20 minutes the father of the house comes from upstairs and into the family room. Stress level over 1000. I introduced myself (in Japanese) and he as well. Conversation over. I felt like I was dismissed. Ignored in a way, I wasn't really sure how to take it. So nervously I continued to play with the kids. My encounter with the father, named Shigeyuki, and also with my Japanese professor, intimidation is given off naturally when it comes to Japanese men. Sometimes it's overbearing, sometimes it's just that blank look that they give you. In this case it was kinda overbearing.

The wife, Tomoko continued to speak to me for a little bit before starting to fold clothes again and to speak to Shigeyuki. I was able to pick up words and small phrases as they spoke, same with the kids when they spoke up. After a little debate the little boy, Hayato announced that we were going to eat Sushi. After putting on our coats and shoes we headed out in the Japanese Minivan and headed to a Sushi restaurant near by, Sushiro*. Of course I had to eat my favorite, Unagi, which means eel. I also discovered something weird and strangely delicious.

To the left is this type of egg pudding. It's hot not cold, it has chunks of meat and seafood in it. Needless to say I burned my tongue and throat a couple of times trying to figure out what it was, Egg pudding was the only thing the little girl, Moe and I could think of. There really wasn't a lot of conversation between me and the family except for me an Hayato.

I felt awkward already intruding on the family for the weekend and the dinner made things a little more awkward.

Gah! My shyness meter is gushing overboard.

After the meal we returned home for more silent time and then off to bed. I survived the first day, just two more to go!

*Sushiro is a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, price depends on the color of the plate and how many you eat.

The second day we had breakfast, toast salad, eggs (in ways I've never had them before) and other foods. This day we were going on a trip to Nagahama! I was surprised that we actually drove there, I was not expecting that. But then I realized that Japanese cars were more gas efficient than American cars, a lot more efficient.

Anyways, Nagahama,
I did a little research on it after taking this pic:

Do you know who this is? Nobunaga Oda. One of Japan's well known daimyo (land lords)of the past. The city that we went to was named Nagahama, by Totoyomi Hideyoshi for Nobunaga. Hideyoshi was one of Nobunaga's loyals and also rose to become the next daimyo after Nobunaga.

Alright moving on from the small history lesson, our family trip led us to the shopping center of Kurokabe, an old street shopping center with various shops lining each side. We stopped at a store that sold stones and were there for about an hour or so while the kids had a field day on looking at the different colored rocks and also had a fight about who got to pick which one. It was cute, but Moe told Hayato which ones to pick (later they had a fight about them). As we continued on our way we stopped at an old fashioned bread shop and picked up a loaf of bread which Moe and Hayato devoured half of it. We then continued further down and we found a model/figurine shop, there was so much stuff that I wanted to buy in that store, there was so much Gloomy Bear and other abstract cool figures. After leaving the store we were greeted with this guy outside the door:

This guy is Guts, from Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro. I have no clue what Hayato was doing, but the mother was taking the photo. We continued on to a glass shop and watched glass pots be made and before we left we picked up a sweet treat called Kintsuba.

This was one of the most delicious treats that I've had since being in Japan, mind you I tried not to eat a lot of sweets because Japanese sugar is lite meaning I could eat a lot more. Anyways Kintsuba is made from sweet potatoes and depending on the color of the sweet potato depends on the sweetness.
Photo borrowed from Futatsumekusa's Photo book

Moe and Hayato wanted the purple one, and I'm glad they did. I have a strong dislike for 'normal' colored sweet potatoes. Bleh.

Anyways I noticed during the trip the parents were mostly silent, except for Tomoko's occasional scolding of Hayato and Moe. Shigeyuki and Tomoko didn't really talk as much. Not sure if that's how they are or if it's a cultural thing. Comparing it to parents in the United States they would at least talk more. Hm, not for sure.

Still observing though.

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