Day 5: A Day with the Host Family in Hikone

Today was a very special day, it wasn’t really intended when I planned the trip, I only learned after I had made the arrangements that it would be Asahi’s 8th birthday on this day, knowing that made the trip even more exciting.

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The day started very early, as I had to get to Hikone (my second hometown) by 930am.  Thankfully I have my JR Rail Pass and so have full use of the Shinkansen (bullet train) without having to pay, otherwise this is a very painful trip from Osaka to Hikone.

I arrived in Maibara, which is one station down from Hikone and the nearest Shinkansen stop, and took the Biwako (Lake Biwa) line to Hikone; this is a route I am very familiar with having taken it frequently last year and when I was a student here.  Hikone is the sister city to Ann Arbor and is a very beautiful and historic city.

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Our first stop for this day was, per my request, Hikone-jo (Hikone Castle).  The reason I love going here is, first getting to the castle is a great physical challenge, but more importantly the view from the top is spectacular and gives you so many beautiful shots of Lake Biwa.

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After this, we went and grabbed some ice cream and I got a chance to talk with Serika (17) and Yurina (14).  I let Asahi play with my Windows Phone and he quickly found Angry Birds and started playing, but, like most 8yr olds, he got board and so jumped on my lap and started watching a cartoon (not Anime), Serika captured this scene

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Next it was back to the house with Emiko-okasama.  I got to meet a new friend, Kiki the cat, who is easily the smallest grown cat that I have ever seen, but so adorable.

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So it then became time to pick up Toma from soccer practice.  I decided to accompany Emiko-okasama because Toma and me always get along really well, in fact I am told he kind of views me as his oni-san (older brother).  I was amazed watching his practice because it was around 95 degrees outside and in Japan, except for certain areas or stadiums, they don’t practice on grass, they practice on dirt.  Talk about a dust mess, it was nuts.  I couldn’t believe it, but Emiko explained to me that they don’t want to waste the water it would take to water the field.  This is another culture difference between the US and Japan.

Upon returning to the house with Toma I was asked my Emiko-okasama if I would I like to meet, and help, her English students.  Of course I said “yes”, I love helping people in Japan speak English, in fact Emiko has her kids practice with me all the time, and they help me with my Japanese. So, I don’t remember their names, but we had a good time talking about America and my travels through Japan and stuff that they like, good times.

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Probably the most hilarious part, for me, was when they arrived at class and they saw a “giant” American waiting for them in the classroom.  I always love that look of shock on their faces, especially if they have siblings in the car, it amuses me Smile

So it being Asahi’s birthday we had to have a party and with some downtime before Emiko’s next class, we had a small party for Asahi.  The cake was very delicious.  I first became introduced to cheese cake in Japan, ironically, and have loved it ever since.

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Now, fun fact, Akihiro-sans (father) birthday is the day after Asahi, so we were celebrating both here.  After this, we went off to Emiko’s second English class and got to meet those students, but before we did, I said my final Goodbye’s to everyone.

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I absolutely love them all, and it is so much fun being around them.  I do hope I get a chance to come back in the future.  I just am not sure when I will, this is the second year in a row I have come to Japan for vacation and I love it, its just so much fun being around them.  And I love the fact that I can look at these kids and know that I have gotten a chance, to see them grow.  I remember when Toma was much shorter.  I can see them all growing up and it really is neat.

What a treat the day was, I went back to Osaka that night and collapsed from exhaustion, truly a full and happy day.

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