Tuesday, September 6, 2011


From sightseeing in Yamaguchi, we went into a very precious part of our experience, the Homestay!
From Wikipedia: Homestay is a form of tourism and/or study abroad program that allows the visitor to rent a room from a local family to better learn the local lifestyle as well as improve their language ability.

As part of the ASEAN-Japan Friendship Program, the delegates are given a taste of the Homestay Program for three days: first day = for orientation in the morning and join homestay family; second day = whole day with family; third day = time to go back to the group in the evening during the Farewell Program in Yamaguchi!

Each delegate would have different experiences regarding homestay depending on the family we would live with.

I heard some say that they had a "rich life" with their family while others felt their homestay host took the premise, "let them live the life that you live" very literally and was too effortless.

I loved my homestay family, the Otomo Family because they were a "typical" Japanese family (as I thought they would be) with a working otosan [father who was a marble graveyard sign "lapida" maker] and a housewife okasan [mother] and three children. I also met the ojiisan [grandfather] and the obaasan [grandmother].
the OTOMO family from Mine City

We lived in a typical Japanese house with"paper" walls (fusuma). But I loved the location of the house which was surrounded by a large ricefield and a mountain at the back.

This is in the room where I slept... note the door and the tatami floor.
I slept in a futon in the room with tatami flooring and there were no other furnitures nor cabinets in my room and it looked so clean.
From Wikipedia: Many homes include at least one traditional Japanese styled room, or washitsu. It features tatami flooring, shoji rather than draperies covering the window, fusuma(opaque sliding vertical partitions) separating it from the other rooms, an oshiire (closet) with two levels (for storing futon), and a wooden ceiling. It might be unfurnished, and function as a family room during the day and a bedroom at night. Many washitsu have sliding glass doors opening onto a deck or balcony.

From Wikipedia:tatami (?) is a type of mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms. Traditionally made of rice straw to form the core (though nowadays sometimes the core is composed of compressed wood chip boards or polystyrene foam), with a covering of woven soft rush (igusa) straw, tatami are made in uniform sizes. Usually, on the long sides, they have edging (heri) of brocade or plain cloth, although some tatami have no edging.[1]

The futon was very comfortable. 
From Wikipedia: Futon is an English word derived from Japanese futon (布団?) [ɸɯ̥tɔɴ] ( listen), a term generally referring to the traditional style of Japanese bedding consisting of padded mattresses and quilts pliable enough to be folded and stored away during the day, allowing the room to serve for purposes other than as a bedroom. The bedding set referred to as futon in Japan fundamentally consists of a shikibuton (bottom mattress) and a kakebuton (thick quilted bedcover).

The kitchen was Western, though. They taught me how to make maki-sushi and I shared with them the "adobo". We first shopped in the supermart, then back to the kitchen. We really enjoyed this!

Then, we ate on the low table in the dining room, which is a compromise I would say, since the space below the table was lower so our legs could comfortably be placed when we sat.

The next day, the okasan dressed me up with a kimono with the geta [clogs]. I didn't realize how difficult it was to wear the kimono because they pulled the obi [sash] so tightly around the waist. The family gave me the kimono and clogs as a gift.
From Wikipedia: The kimono (着物?)[1] is a Japanese traditional garment worn by women, men and children. The word "kimono", which literally means a "thing to wear" (ki "wear" and mono"thing"),[2] has come to denote these full-length robes. The standard plural of the word kimono in English is kimonos,[3] but the unmarked Japanese plural kimono is also sometimes used.
Kimono are T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimono are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial),[4] and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back. Kimono are generally worn with traditional footwear (especially zōri or geta) and split-toe socks (tabi).[5]
Today, kimono are most often worn by women, and on special occasions. Traditionally, unmarried women wore a style of kimono called furisode,[5] with almost floor-length sleeves, on special occasions. A few older women and even fewer men still wear the kimono on a daily basis. Men wear the kimono most often at weddingstea ceremonies, and other very special or very formal occasions.

From Wikipedia: Geta (木屐/下駄) are a form of traditional Japanese footwear that resemble both clogs and flip-flops. They are a kind of sandal with an elevated wooden base held onto the foot with a fabric thong to keep the foot well above the ground. They are worn with traditional Japanese clothing such as kimono or yukata, but (in Japan) also with Western clothing during the summer months. Sometimes geta are worn in rain or snow to keep the feet dry, due to their extra height and impermeability compared to other shoes footwear such as zōri.
wearing the kimono and the geta
inside the Otomo home

Then, we went out to a fishpond, where we enjoyed fishing. We caught a lot of fish but I didn't realize we would eat all the fish we caught. 
So, we had fish soup, furai (fried), tempura style, with sauce and so forth! But, it really was a sumptuous lunch!

We also went to a gymnasium, where we met with other families, who were their close friends. I was playing with the young kids.

That evening, we ate dinner together with the Abe family, who were friends with the Otomo family and I joined Avic M. and Ronnie P. for a party together with their homestays.

Avic and I wore the kimono during the party. 
still outside the Otomo home (very typical Japanese home) before the party  
with Avic M. and Ronnie P. during the party
But Avic later took off her kimono because she felt she couldn't breathe. 

We enjoyed the dinner and the sharing and they also taught us origami.

From Wikipedia: Origami (折り紙?, from ori meaning "folding", and kami meaning "paper"; kami changes to gami due to rendaku) is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, which started in the 17th century AD at the latest and was popularized outside Japan in the mid-1900s. It has since then evolved into a modern art form. The goal of this art is to transform a flat sheet of material into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, and as such the use of cuts or glue are not considered to be origami.

The number of basic origami folds is small, but they can be combined in a variety of ways to make intricate designs. The best known origami model is probably the Japanese paper crane. In general, these designs begin with a square sheet of paper whose sides may be different colors or prints. Traditional Japanese origami, which has been practiced since the Edo era (1603–1867), has often been less strict about these conventions, sometimes cutting the paper or using nonsquare shapes to start with.  

I know my stay with the Otomo family and their friends was a very ideal homestay experience. I really want to be reconnected with this family. Can anybody help? 

After about four years, my homestay family sent me a box of chestnuts (which I didn't recognize then, but loved all the same!) with a letter written completely in Japanese, which I had translated by a Japanese nun. At that time, the language differences made things a bit difficult but with the advent of Facebook and e-mails, I am positive communications will still be reconnected. 

Then, we had to say goodbye to our homestay! This is the sad part about being together... but the memories are always precious and will linger on.

So we went back to Yamaguchi at the Boucho Seinen-kan.

Here, we are with our friends from the Yamaguchi University Engineering Department outside the Boucho Seinen-kan before the Farewell party. 

During the Farewell Party in Yamaguchi, we had our last bonding with the homestay families and the friends we met in the prefecture.

And of course, the 'highlight' of the Farewell Party is the singing of "Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo" which was a very patriotic song during the mid to late 1980s.

Note, that the kids also joined us while we were singing. 

It was a sentimental time for us, and now as we approach the Silver Anniversary (presently 24 years after), I am even more sentimental all over again, thus, I am able to make these blogs. 

We say Sayonara to Yamaguchi and in Part 8, we go on to the historical place, Hiroshima and further on to the beautiful and cultural place, Kyoto to further know Japan better.

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