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Homestays are my absolute FAVORITE!! If you’re wondering what a homestay is, it’s what the name implies: staying at someone’s home, but not quite like Airbnb where it’s more about the location and room/board. Homestays are about the family you’re staying with, spending time with them, and getting to know their life and culture. When I was living in Ishinomaki the families that I did homestays with were the people that I became very close to; and because they didn’t speak a lick of English, it really motivated me to communicate more in Japanese.
My Asian Access supervisors arranged for me to stay with a family from their church in Toda-Kōen for my first weekend in Japan, sort of a cultural immersion into the country. Up until that weekend I’d been with English speaker in Japan, so if anything, this experience definitely forced me to communicate in Japanese.
Meet Miwa-san. She’s a spunky, energetic zumba/yoga instructor, and if I were to sum her up in two words it would be: Disney Life. From her Mickey Mouse phone case, the Japanese Disney songs they play in the car, to the decorations around the house …everything is “Disney Life.” She’s a proud Annual Passholder to Tokyo Disneyland. In the bathroom I even found a paper where she’d written down in English how to give strangers her extra fast pass.
These are Miwa’s girls, Emma-chan on the left and Nono-chan on the right. (Miwa asked me to block out the girl’s faces due to it being on public internet, so I had some fun with line camera)
For breakfast, Miwa-san proudly announced she was a “range-oven cook” (microwave). She introduced me to these delicious shoyu rice balls.
We went to a giant park and picnicked with two other families from their church.
At the park they had a giant playground, and yes, ICE CREAM!
Their apartment was quite a large complex. They call it “the mansion.” Miwa-san said that their apartment was very unique in that they had their own bakery, so before church we enjoyed some freshly baked pan (bread).