When I was in high school I was lucky enough to have it be our turn to visit Japan. I begged and pleaded and was allowed to go with the group. I was lucky that one of my best friends, Missy, was also going. It was going to be an epic adventure in Japan.
We spent months raising money to help offset the cost of flights and other things. We were going to be completing a home-stay while we were in Japan. I was excited to get to live inside a Japanese home and see if what I had learned in anime was true (though I was sure most wasn’t).
We flew from Vancouver to Tokyo and then from Tokyo to Sapporo. We were met in Sapporo by a group and spent a two nights there while we were welcomed and briefed. Then we travelled up to Numata to meet our host families.
My host family was very kind. They stayed in a traditional house with a court yard and many tatami rooms. The oldest child (Ayame) was my saving grace because she spoke English almost fluently. The rest of the family spoke a little English, except for her grandma, who spoke none and loved to talk to me.
While there we went to learn traditions, like tea ceremony and flower arrangement. We learned about the history and language. We took cooking classes. My family took me to have my hair and make-up done like a Maiko and dress in Kimono.
I will never forget when my family had me try homemade nato (fermented soy beans). I was told to cover my nose and stir the beans and take a bite. It tasted like coffee, which I do not like. I managed to swallow that one small bite and then I let go of my nose and almost hurled. The smell was awful, the taste was bad, and I was disgusted, how could people eat this. Then I remembered the other things eaten in Japan, like octopus and squid and raw fish and realized that rotten soy beans was just par for the course.
Another fond memory was when a gaggle of girls from Canada went to the bathroom at a dinner hosted for us. One of the girls, Riki, was curious about all the buttons on the toilet, the bidet controls and water sounds. I knew what they were and looked at my toilet and instructed her on what button to press to start the bidet without telling her what it would do. I heard her scream and curse me and was laughing to hard to tell her how to turn it off.
This trip experiencing the culture, meeting the people, trying their food, learning their traditions really kindled my love of travel. This was the trip that really started me on my path to being a world traveller.
When I get home I hope I can find some pictures from this trip.