People say you will never experience the entire culture of a country if you will not experience to live together with their basic unit of their society. It seems a little bit awkward, knowing you will homestay for two nights and one day in a strange family with other races. Yet, later I find out it was cool after seeing the warmth smile of the family that I will be with, and as they help us learning the family culture of Japan.
I together with my partner Mayan as they called her (because Japanese people can’t pronounce the name Marianne) stay in the home of Chiba family who live in Sapporo, Hokkaido. My poster mother Yuko Chiba addressed us (with Mayan) to call her Okasan and her husband Ottosan, because only Japanese Children can call them Mommy or Mama/ Daddy or Papa. They have two daughters: one is in junior high school and the younger one is in elementary. Both of them were so adorable. They also have a cute little dog that loves to play with guest and loves caressing her fur. Its names is Pooh-chan.
At our first met in the meeting hall, where she would fetch us, that was evening of the first week of October, she apologized for their small house. Surprisingly, when we reached their place, their house was really huge. It is the same with the expensive houses in the Philippines (Do you imagine that?)
Their home is a two story house with cute high technology appliances (Well I think everything in Japan is cute) and a piano (well they love music, it was evidently when they were driving a car, they always put on the music) . They have a modern home like houses in the Philippines (I do not know, but perhaps most of the houses in Sapporo are all modernize). Their living room is spacious, since they’re appliances are all set at the corners.
Their family loves books and music. That is why I and Mayan was very excited to meet them. However, our excitements reached its own climax, after we saw book shelves on every corner of their second floor and to every bed room. According to Okasan, in every country she went through, she bought one book as souvenir. Indeed, okasan is fluent in speaking English, which not all Japanese can do. She even went to many countries such as France, China, England, Vatican and more. Whilst her oldest daughter, Mao Chan, is a Harry Potter Fan. She showed us her complete volume of Harry Potter books with a Hogwarts uniform. She said that it was a gift from her grandmother in England.
On my first night with them, I learned that Japanese family takes a bath at night and not in the morning. Perhaps that was one of the Japanese family tradition that I experienced from them. For the rest of their way of living was already adapted from the western culture.
Another culture I like from them was how Japanese family really value wellness. At breakfast, they served vegetable ( especially leafy vegetables that are raw) and sliced fruits like corn. They don’t serve water. They serve only either concentrated juice like grapes and oranges or pure green tea (for me it taste bitter, because tea in the Philippines are sweet).
Chiba family let us also feel and experience tea ceremony. It was a wonderful memory. I remember, when I felt not comfortable sitting how they kneel. Thus, Japanese elders wearing kimono gave us small chairs to make us relax while we were kneeling. They were very hospitable, mostly after they know we were foreigners. Most of them greeted us and say welcome to Japan.
Along with that memory, we went to a small festival for kids after the tea ceremony. From there, I experienced to practice writing my name in katana with the help of our Okasan. It was hard at first, because it was like I was a grade one starting to write letters. But, it was amazing when you heard them saying you were doing fine.
On think that I have noticed with them was when we were at the mall, because they never go with us. They asked until what time do we want to consume for shopping, then they will leave us for a while. At first I felt bad because I thought they didn’t want us to be with them. But as soon as I realized all Japanese family with their home stay do that. They gave us space and time to enjoy ourselves.
Secondly I was fascinated when we were on the road, because only few people walk in the street unlike in Tokyo. I asked okasan if all the people in Sapporo have cars. She said that everyone has car because cars are cheap to buy in Sapporo.
Within my two nights and one day staying with them, what I really missed was their eating culture, saying itadakimasu, before eating and gochisosama after eating ( gochisosama is so hard to pronounce, but I felt home when I am saying that in front of them) and also saying tadaima when you arrive at home , meaning I am home.
I will not also forget our second day with them they treat us the food called takuyaki. A Japanese food famous in the Philippines. It is composed of vegetables such us pickled ginger, and green ginger, also with octopus and tempura scraps mixed inside a wheat flour. It so deliciously huge. Japans food are really all bounty when served on restaurants or any eateries. We also ate yummy sushi. I was really fascinated at their Sushi house, because their food server is a toy train and the menu is on the tablet .
I love so much how their family gave us the warmest welcome and treated us, as one of their eldest daughters. I am praying and wishing I will come back there and see again for the second time the Chiba family whom will be forever part of my life now.