Just Like Home

This weekend, I got to experience a Japanese homestay, along with another teacher on our program, Liza. We were so lucky to get matched with a wonderful couple, Sakae and Michiko.

Michiko cooked us the most amazing meal!

Michiko cooked us the most amazing meal!

It was a fabulous break from our busy schedule. We relaxed, ate a lot, and just hung out and got to know each other. Other than a few differences, it felt just like being at home. They live in a beautiful spot, right across the street from a lake.

ShoesIt is typical in Japan to take off your shoes before entering the house, and they had an entryway just for that. Liza also slept on the traditional tatami mat, while I slept on a bed. They had both in their house.

Liza in Bed S

Their house had a lot of the same things that an American house would have, but it also had a few shrines. Michiko wakes up every morning and puts food on the alter, and does a little prayer.

Just like American families, sometimes Sakae and Michiko cook at home, and sometimes they go out to eat.

The bathroom situation was a little different than most American houses. They have three different rooms — one for the toilet, one for the bath, and then another where there was a sink and laundry. The sink room was kind of like an entryway for the bathroom, but the toilet was in another part of the house, near the front door. I got to experience the traditional Japanese bath, where you wash yourself outside of the tub, and then take a soak in the tub. It is traditional (and environmentally sustainable) for everyone in the household to use the same water for the night (kind of like a hot tub). It’s also convenient that while one person is bathing, another person could be using the toilet or brushing their teeth!

One highlight of the homestay was getting to go out shopping in the places where the locals go. We went to the grocery store, dollar store, bookstore, etc. It was really neat to see what’s for sale in the non-touristy shops!

Overall, it was a fabulous experience. Sakae and Michiko were so welcoming and really made us feel at home. Hospitality does not require speaking the same language, though we were lucky that Sakae had studied English. We really enjoyed sharing a bit of American culture with them also.

A homestay is a great way to get to know another culture. If you ever have a chance to do one, definitely try it!

Categories: Japan

17 replies »

  1. WOW! You are so lucky to be with such nice people. I was surprised how the bathroom was in three different places. Did you get used to the bathrooms right away? I know I wouldn’t get used to the bathrooms like that. What I think is funny, was Mrs.Krakauer brought fluff to try.

  2. This is interesting! I’ve learned about ancient Japan, but not a lot about the present day Japan!
    What was being sold at the non-touristy shops? Also, just out of curiosity, why are many objects (bed, chairs, etc.) so close to the ground in Japan?
    ~ Anna

    • I don’t know why everything is close to the ground. Just tradition maybe? The non-touristy shops had regular things, like food, CDs, etc. It was interesting to observe similarities and differences.

  3. If you could chose between an American bathroom and there bathroom witch one would you pick? The American bathroom is all in one spot and you don’t have to move around, but there you don’t have to wait until the person is done, before you can brush your teeth.

  4. I love that you brought Fluff to share with your host family!! I grew up not far from the Fluff factory in Lynn.. glad to see fluff go international..lol 🙂 I have truly been enjoying your blog. It sure does look like your hosts made you feel right at home! Can’t wait to read more posts going forward. Thanks for sharing! -Jodi (Hudson’s Mom)

  5. I loved that you brought Fluff, too! Very Somerville! Small world connection…my friend, Janet, teaches with Liza in California. So glad you had a great home stay experience!

  6. I think that an American home is sort of like a Japanese home because sometimes they both go out. Also did you like the idea of the bathrooms? I think it would be good for sharing.

  7. Actually it’s kind of neat how their bathroom is made and the food they make just looks fantastic compared to the food we make here in the U.S. in our homes.

  8. A similarity between my family and that couple would be that usually at my house we have to take off our shoes before we get into our home and put them in the mud room.

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