Saturday, December 27, 2014

GakuPuro 7: Family Time!

Yeah this isn't over. An endless mega throwback blog series set in Fukushima, Japan. Spring 2012 
〜( ̄▽ ̄〜) Continuing from the previous post, which I can barely recall its contents...ok I peeked. It was about making riceballs and presentations and well, good food. Indoor stuff, basically.

After the great meal, the foreign participants (all three of us, what a crowd) were assigned to their respective host families. The host families were members of the Minamisouma Rotary Club. I've met my host dad at the previous activities and I've sat next to him a few times so we've chatted a bit with the help of the interpreter. He is pretty easygoing and enjoys a good joke so I guess we bonded lol

That night was the first time I took a cab in Japan.

Holymama the doors open automatically! After we left the ballroom, a cab was waiting for us outside and as I was just about to reach out to open the door (because he was carrying my luggage), he stopped me and tadaa, the door opens automatically. Wow Japan. Bow down to you. I was so surprised at this convenient feature and I think he found it rather amusing hahahaha

We reached soon after to such a cozy, compact little home. I've never entered a local Japanese home before so that was really exciting. I was rather nervous too, spending a night in a stranger's home in a foreign country. Paranoia starts to get to you hahahaha the house was like a maze. My host dad introduced me to his wife and they led me to my room. An arrangement of fresh flowers with a welcome note greeted me.

A room all to myself, with an en suite bathroom and a little pantry with mini fridge fully stocked with snacks and drinks. New set of toothbrush and pyjamas. Dainty little fresh flowers decorate the corners. Mind, this is a compact little house and all these space here seem to contrast with the rest. It felt as if they have specially prepared it all for my arrival. After days in communal dorms and baths, the privacy and modern conveniences seem like a luxury (´•ω•̥`) I was really touched by the thoughtfulness.


There didn't seem to be signs of any kids though, but I didn't dare probe further. After a wonderfully refreshing shower, I put on the set of pyjamas prepared and went to the living/dining room where my host parents were watching tv. My host dad prompted me to have some drinks, to which I agreed, and my host mom started taking out all the bottles of alcohol stored in the fridge hahahaha apparently they both LOVE alcohol. So we started drinking, and chatting, and drinking, and chatting, and drinking somemore. They poured several varities of Japanese sake, and wrapped it up with a pour of Hendricks gin with hot water. Despite my low alcohol tolerance, I must say I handled it well. The large dinner earlier must have blocked the alcohol haha it was a cold night, yet I felt a low hum of warmth throughout. We chatted late into the night, in basic English and broken Japanese. I asked them what were they doing when the March 11 disaster struck and they told me. Now I have forgotten sudah fml. I do recall them saying that they enjoy travelling. 

After that, I want to bed feeling damn good. I remember having such a great sleep because I had a bed and room all to myself. It was awesome. The next morning we woke up early for a long day ahead! Also I had to pack to leave to join the other participants at the dorms already fml but hey, my host mom prepared an incredible breakfast. So simple - rice, salmon, miso soup and pickles - but too damn good. She was bustling around the kitchen preparing and serving these dishes, asking if I wanted more, checking to see if I have enough, this may sound ridiculous but I felt so much love and effort from her. After breakfast, she served tea and red-bean yokan, and bananas and mangoes. I was full to the brim but well, couldn't say no hehe.

After breakfast, they presented a boxful of gifts for me! Almost died of happiness why are they so kind to me gosh I really didn't deserve it, especially when intruding into their lives like this. Inside the box was a traditional toy modeled after the legendary Akabeko "Red Cow". Made from papier mache, all nicely lacquered, these toys usually take close to 10 days to make by hand, only by a small number of traditional craft shops around town. It was such a special, unique gift, I absolutely love it until today.

So I asked my host dad, "do such red cows really exist?" to which he promptly replied while pointing to my legs, "do such red legs really exist?" hahahahah cis. This conversation left a strong impression in my memories, partly because it was said in full Japanese (so proud of mahself y'all) and partly because it really showed his cheeky personality. Ah I miss them (。◡‿◡) ♪

Yeah my hair and legs damn bright I know. After the little exchange (yes I had gifts too) we took our time in saying goodbyes. Walked around their little garden and took some photographs of the surroundings to remember. It was such a quiet and nice neighbourhood I could totally see myself living here for good hahaha I was absolutely in awe of all the sights in front of my eyes. Such a normal, average view for them but to me it was like a dream come true. A local home, a local neighbourhood, I feel Japanese already hahahahaha

Borderline obsessed with flowers. Look at the intense colors.

A neighbour just returned from walking his dog and after my host mom greeted him, she asked if he could help us with the camera for a family photograph and he happily obliged, even going so far as to lend us his dog as prop hahahaha no lah maybe nobody hold the dog if he's going to hold the camera so he just passed the leash to my host dad lol mana tahu the doggy so photogenic. Nah, complete family photograph.(✿◠‿◠) 

Then, my host dad took his car to send me to join the other participants. When I met him later that day, he passed me a clear file and I was so surprised to see that he printed out photographs taken on the night before and the morning itself, alongside captions. So sweet kan, how to not love them. 


It's been two years since. I think about these good times every now and then, wishing to meet them again. We've lost contact after a few e-mail exchanges after the trip, now that I'm talking about this again I feel like I should make an effort to get in touch again. If e-mails didn't work, we'll just have to go with good old handwritten letters. In Japanese. Omai. Okay let's do this. 

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