The night before our home-stay programme, we already had an idea who’s going to be our host family. Information was given to us and then I felt a little nervous and worried regarding language barrier given that I only know a little nihongo while they understand English a little too, but at the same time I was really excited to learn on their local lifestyle like what’s going to happen and how would it feel living in their home.
When we arrived in Kyoto TERRSA, I saw few families who are already there. I also notice a very cute kid playing around and other two adorable kids sitting. As I was sitting, I had a feeling that they’re my host family and I wasn’t mistaken, they were the Shibata Family. I was very happy to know that they’re my host family when I saw them my excitement doubles! I really like children I think it twice the fun! Also I consider it makes a home loud and happy all the time. Their family is truly kind, sweet, courteous and friendly and all, I do not know how to describe their goodness exactly but one thing for sure is that – living with them is one of a kind.
We’ve been to Kyoto Aquarium, said to be a newly opened aquarium. It is my first to get inside an Aquarium park like this despite the fact that there is also a place like this in our country called Ocean Park (Yes, shame on me! I didn’t get the chance to visit it though it only takes 30 minutes drive). I really had fun it is my closest encounter on different kinds of sea animals like seals, penguins and fishes like clown fish (famous nemo cartoon) and even a bullhead shark, and it was also nice to learn about the aquatic life.
This is a Pitted Stingray I thought he was smiling so cute, I also saw white-spotted eagle ray but didn't get a chance to take a good picture. There is also a green sea turtle inside
Finally a Dolphins Show in the open stadium, It offers a 180-degree panoramic view and facing Umekoji Park and to a very nice scenery a far. I learn that dolphin has a unique quality but do have common characteristic of a strong sense of camaraderie. Watching dolphins playfully swimming together in the pool was very entertaining though I can’t understand what the trainer is saying all throughout the show but surely I really enjoy everything!
The kids were really hungry we’re supposed to eat on a nearby restaurant however there were too many people waiting so they’d decided to find another food place. We ate on a Ramen House I can’t remember the exact name of the restaurant because it is in Japanese but their ramen serving is huge and taste really good. I don’t know what exactly to order because the menu in written in Japanese but somehow the pictures helped, also I’d ask their suggestion then finally took this while joy had this below (Sorry can't remember the food's name)
My host family lives in Omihachiman City, Shiga. It is a neighbour place of Kyoto, just about 1hr and 30 minutes drive. Shiga Prefecture holds the largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa.
Although I was a bit sleepy I did enjoy the great scenery we’d pass through. Rice fields are everywhere since Rice is the primary crop of Shiga, and about 90 percent of the farmlands are rice fields. I was talking to my family and didn’t have the chance to take quick photo on the rice fields; it simply looks like a typical rice field near the highway though there were also some terraced fields of rice crops I saw too.
Here's what we had for Dinner. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese comfort food which is like omelettes on a griddle. It has noodles, shrimp, pork, vegetables like cabbage inside and served with a special Japanese sauce, mayonnaise and green powdered seaweed. The name “okonomiyaki” is derived from the Japanese word “okonomi” meaning “what you like” or “what you want” and “yaki” meaning “grilled” or “cooked”.
Our stay would be a shame if we'll leave Japan without wearing Kimono/Yukata. I’ve always wanted to wear a kimono but it is too heavy to wear and it is only being dressed on special occasions like wedding and the like. Yukata is a simple version of kimono. Glad that we had the chance to wear these beautiful and colorful Yukata. I think the most difficult part in putting yukata is knotting the obi (the belt like green and blue part) Wearing Yukata feels really light but the obi was very tight and stiff so it’s kind of hard to breath at first yet later I realized that sitting in Japanese way feels effortless and relaxing (crossed legged sitting posture). The yukata’s string bag was generously given to us, I will really treasure it. Thank you so much, Mayumi-san and Natume-san for helping us. It was a very wonderful experience!
Family friends were also there to welcome us. They’re very smiling and hospitable. I enjoyed the company Indeed. After having a scrumptious dinner, we played a card game “concentration” or in Japanese “Shinkei-suijaku”, first we played, rock paper scissors game to tell who’s going to play first, and then I won (I remember I always play roshambo during my childhood times) The game is like a memory game where all of the cards are laid face down on a surface and two cards are flipped face up over each turn and then turn over pairs of matching cards. The most number of cards have had wins! And so Joy won. It was a very fun and exciting game, actually it was my first time and the kids really played better than me! It was very funny and entertaining. I hope to play it again soon. I missed playing with them so much.
After our game here's the reward, I thought! I was very surprised when they'd prepare this cute and yummy strawberry cake and welcome us warmly. Thank you so much Shibata Family.
Picture with my dear playmates, they're so cute. I really missed them a lot. Thanks for the very fun game we have had, I really enjoy it and will surely treasure that very good memories with you all.
After having a wonderful dinner and fun game with them they'd said goodbye and went home. It was a pleasure to meet them. After a while, our family oriented us on how Japanese style toilet and bath are used. Then finally have a very good sleep in Futon.
On the next morning we had a delicious breakfast prepared by Yoshinobo-san. Some raisin bread, vegetables, cabbage and cucumber salad, omelette, rice shaped triangle with rice seasoning sprinkles (furikake) which the packet’s designed ampanman, Yoshinobo-san told me that kids love it so much and for dessert some oranges and strawberries then finally set off a cup of barley tea to finish. I remember it was raining and we were enjoying breakfast while watching a very cute anime TV show and start off some conversations. If only I knew how to speak in Japanese fluently, I should’ve talk to them even more nevertheless I am very glad to know that they’re also trying and language barriers never hinder to understand each other cultures and personality.
Mizuki and I played a superman like game we hardly understand each other but still we make out all fun. I really missed him so much.
After a while we head off to the Karate School of Natume and Shion. We met their coach “Sensei” and saw their practice and trainings for their nearly tournament this May. We also visit the Aeon Mall to shop some goodies to bring home. And all of a sudden Mizuki gave us a lollipop, so sweet of him!
An amazing lunch awaits when we get back home, It was like a table of “Make your own sushi” Nori wrapper, soy sauce and wasabi, tuna salad, lettuce and tomatoes, sashimi or raw salmon and tuna, ham, sausages, omelette and of course a Japanese rice. I really enjoyed trying on different fillings to put on it was very nice experience and tasted very good too.
After a while they'd gave us some gifts(above picture) and then we prepared ourselves to finally leave and went to Kyoto International Community House for the Farewell Party. I felt very sad that moment I look around the house again and whisper to myself that I’ll surely visit them again pretty soon. I really miss everything now. It was an incomparable experience to be with them for a short time. Cosy home, friendly faces somehow a priceless smiles and laughter’s, eating together not to mention their superb cooking of Japanese food, playing with the kids and most certainly accepting us like a true family. It was a unique experience and learning. I will never forget everything we have and had shared; I really appreciate the whole thing. To Shibata Family, thank you so much for making our stay memorably fun.
We have presented a cultural dance presentation followed by a song, all for them. Saying Goodbye is always sad. I can't help but cry, Thank you so much and I love you all! I am grateful to be your family, our memories will remain forever. See you soon!