Journals from Kanto Gakuin University
2008-11-05 Host Families and Fall Break
Osaka-jo (Osaka Castle)
Well we've finished our time with the host families, and just got back from Fall Break. The host families were a great chance to see different aspects of the Japanese culture and life, especially for someone like me who stayed with two different families. It was interesting to see the differences in how the lived. Both were families of three with a young daughter. One family was more traditionally Japanese, while the other was much more Western in nature and living habits. There were similarities such as the father working extremely late on weekdays and basically only having the family together on weekends. Other sorts of differences include having beds or futons, when they take a shower and if they take a bath too, if the have a washer AND dryer or just washer. If they have a washing machine for dishes, and other small things like this. I had a lot of fun with both families and learned a lot while staying with them.
Fall break was a ton of fun and a friend and I went to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji, Osaka, and Kyoto. There were tons of temples, shrines and castles to see as well as other various events. For example we saw Bunraku in Osaka and went to a Geisha show in Kyoto that had dance and music and the tea ceremony, and more as parts of the performance. It was interesting to hear the slightly different dialects of the different areas and there were lots of tourists from Japan and the rest of the world. You should always keep an open mind when a stranger approaches you and starts talking to you. A lot of them just want to practice their English and will strike up a conversation and make sure you know where you are going, or suggest places to visit, or food to eat. While in Himeji my friend and I wandered into a restaurant and were looking at the menu for something that we could sort of figure out what the meal consisted of when a business man walked over to our table, speaking perfect English and asked if we could read the menu. We replied that we sort of could, but the Kanji was a bit more difficult. He pointed out what each dish was, but then suggested we order what he had been eating which wasn't on the menu. It was an unofficial daily special that was much cheaper than the rest of the meals and absolutely delicious. What a treat! It was so nice and lucky that we should wander in there at that time and have someone help us.
I will make a note that within Japan, depending on where you go and what you want to do you should be careful where you stay. We ended up staying in a Youth Hostel in Kyoto, one of the few places that would have been really fun to explore at night. The hostel had a curfew of 10:30 and a wake up call at 6:40. I wouldn't have had a problem with it at any of the other places we stayed, but as I mentioned, Kyoto would have been fun at night even though we were exhausted. Anyway, it's something to keep in mind considering the business hotels are generally nicer and just as cheap as the hostel was.
Thanks for reading,