On April 17th-18th 2010, I had a home-stay at Utsunomiya (宇都宮), Tochigi Prefecture (栃木県). I stayed in Naka-san’s (印波ナカ) house. First, there was an opening ceremony for this home-stay program. I met her for the first time there. After the opening ceremony, all of us had lunch together, there were several kinds of food cooked, and I had some conversation with Naka-san at that time. Despite my still-poor Japanese, Naka-san was very patient to have conversation with me.
After the lunch session, the home-stay participants and the host families had free time and we were free to go anywhere we liked. We chose to go to Oya Cave (大谷) because it was a famous spot of Tochigi Prefecture and it was not too far away. Naka-san had some thing to do first, so I went together with Elodie and her host mother, Yukie-san.
Naka-san came to join us and then we went to visit the Oya Temple. We went into the temple and saw a 11000-year old fossil in the temple. There was also a big Kannon (観音) statue. We met several other home-stay families who also visited that place. Naka-san even bought a frog made of the Oya stone from a shop there for me.
On the way home, we went to supermarket to buy some fish and vegetables for dinner. Then we cooked Japanese style noodle together. It was my first experience to eat Japanese style noodle, and I liked it. After dinner, Naka-san asked me if I had had an experience to wear kimono before. I hadn’t had any kimono wearing experience, so Naka-san let me tried on kimono. Naka-san was a teacher who taught people how to wear kimono, so she had a lot of kimono collections. Since I liked blue, she chose a blue colored kimono and let me try it on. She helped me to wear the kimono, and also let me wear the cloth-sandals and put on kanzashi on my hair.
I was asked to take off the kimono by myself. There were so many items and steps that I couldn’t remember which one I should take off first. She showed me some pictures of her activities of introducing Japanese cultures to foreigners. She also taught me how to make origami of kimono.
The next day, we went to Mashiko (益子), a place famous for its pottery. We went to the pottery class and learned how to make potteries. It was also my first experience to make potteries. Making potteries was not easy at all. I failed several times, but it was fun to learn making pottery.
Then we headed back to gather at the Tochigi Youth center. Before going back to Tokyo, we had pictures of the home-stay participants. After the photo session, both Naka-san and I talked and totally forgot about our cameras until we were asked whether the cameras were ours or not. It was really funny to know that both of us were so forgetful. I really enjoyed this home-stay very much, and I learned a lot about Japanese culture and life in this home-stay program.