JENESYS 2018: A taste of Japanese daily life

Today’s posting is going to be all about our experiences living with a local Japanese family for a 3-day 2-night stay, definitely the highlight of JENESYS 2018.

All 20 delegates were assigned to 8 hosts family where each family welcomed 2 to 3 delegates into their homes respectively. Our first-time meet with the host family was done in a Japanese traditional way – we were brought into a big room and the room is divided into two; one side of the room is seated by the hosts family and another side was us.

The hosts family from our view on the other side of the room

After a short introduction, all 20 delegated said goodbye to each other (only for a short while) and departed to their respective host family’s home.

Papa-san and Mama-san beautiful home

Our host family lived in Kami-Machi Kami-Gun, a town located in Miyagi prefecture. The economy of Kami town is largely based on agriculture, primarily the cultivation of rice.

Their names are Endo Masayuki San, aged 78 and Tamiko San, aged 73. We were asked to call them Papa-san and Mama-san. Papa-san used to be a veterinarian and Mama-san is a ballerina (she still is by the way). They used to live in Germany for several years and in fact one of their children is a permanent resident there.

Mama-san and Papa-san

They both welcomed us into their lovely home with warm greetings and apple cake. Then mama-san showed us around before we had dinner together, all dishes were cooked by Papa-san – he is an amazing cook. While having dinner, we had small conversation getting to know them better and we used Google apps as our translator – we thought that it is good and honoured to communicate with them in their language. Both of them don’t speak much English at all. But they really know how to communicate.

What is interesting to note is that the Japanese do not waste any food, there were literally no left-over in their respective.

The ever-so-delicious apple cake baked by Mama-san herself

Then, we were caught in surprise when Papa-san started playing harmonica while we were enjoying our gohan (rice in Japanese), grilled mackerel fish and a super delicious baked cheese potatoes.

It appears that these husband and wife are both musicians and singers. They were very excited to show us their talents when Papa-san and Mama-san once again entertained us by singing an opera song in Italian. Both of them also can play other musical instruments such as piano and violin.

We then said “gochisosamadeshita” which literally means “it was quite a feast” to show our appreciation towards their hospitality and the lovely dinner we had before headed to our room – a comfortable, clean and spacious room.

Our English breakfast prepared by Mama-san

Papa-san had planned a whole day of activities for us the next day – once we were done with our English breakfast, he brought us to a horse stable just near-by his house where we spent around 15 minutes and there, he made us kissed one of the horses and laughed out loud.

We actually kissed the white horse as per above picture

Next, we went to Kiri GomeYaki, a museum of Japanese blue and white pottery originated from Miyazaki of the Miyagi Prefecture. There, Papa-san showed us two potteries that were actually belonged to his family from the older generation.

One among the two potteries belonged to Papa-san’s family

Inside the Kiri GomeYaki

The view from the outside of the Kiri GomeYaki

Following our visit at the museum, we went back home for a quick break where we had pizza for lunch, cooked by Mama-san. We wasted no time after that and quickly headed to an apple farm which belongs to Papa-San’s good friend Agota-san, located at Kamitatagawa in Kami town. We spent hours there picking apples from the tree and were lucky to taste Agota-San’s specialty Apple Pizza.

Apple Pizza

Apple farm owned by Agota-san

It was a long but fun day for us and before we went home, we dropped by Aeon mall for some souvenir shopping and a cemetery park located at Machiyashiki, Miyagi to take a few shots of photo.

Machiyashiki cemetery park

When we arrived home, mama-san had already prepared us dinner. We had lots of interesting conversation this time talking about our families, careers and how much we appreciate their hospitality and loving Japan so far. They had great sense of humour too.

Papa-san doing funny face mocking the statue behind him

We ended the night by presenting gifts we brought from Malaysia to Papa-san and Mama-san.

Papa-san and Mama-san happy faces receiving gifts brought all the way from Malaysia

The next day, it is time to say goodbye to Papa-san and Mama-san. But before that, we were first brought to another cultural experience to learn and understand about Wadaiko, traditional Japanese drums. These percussion instruments are used to perform at festivals and other events, infusing them with energy and listeners with excitement.

Fun experience. All of us were given chances to play the Japanese drum.

Our lunch for the day is also our farewell party with our hosts family. We sat on the tatami and ate together and ended the party with Rasa Sayang before saying our goodbyes. We then proceeded to the bus escorted by our hosts family.

Next journey, back to Shinjiku, Tokyo.

Our homestay at Endon-san was fantastic and a real, genuine experience. We felt completely at home and were overwhelmed by their kindness. It was also a great opportunity for us to witness in-hands the life of a Japanese family, to see the everyday life from a local’s point of view. Although our family, they live in a modern setting, they are still very traditional in the sense of well-mannered, holding up to Japanese culture passed down through generation.

And it is only right that their way of daily lives are put into the public amenities like their train system, public space upkeep. Even visiting the shopping mall, museums, name a few more, there is element of Japanese culture infused in.

We really enjoyed our times here in Kami town and it helped us to see a different perspective about the life in Japan. It was definitely one of the best cultural immersion experiences of our lifetimes.

Whenever there’s a chance of us coming back here in Japan, we will definitely pay them a visit. Thank you very much Papa-san and Mama-san for this great experience.

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