Over the weekend ending on June the 25th, the LBAT’ers got paired with a host family in Beppu, Oita, or Hiji, and got to get a real taste of Japanese family life. I was personally placed in Oita, with the Nishidas, a jolly family of three, with a young boy of nine named Ryou. This trip was chock full of plenty of good memories, from daily Nerf Gun wars to relaxing weekend mornings watching quirky Japanese television. I started off my weekend engaging with the Oita Hippo Cultural Exchange Group, getting to play various language focused games and indulge in a cross-cultural smorgasbord. The following day I went to Harajiri Falls, and soaked up beautiful views under a day of light rain. I then concluded the day with a trip to a crowded public bath park, complete with countless salt baths, saunas, hot and cold, and a central pool. Hands down the most nudity I’ve ever seen enclosed in four walls. Later that day, the father made a exodus from home and joined us for a delicious conveyor belt sushi dinner. The last day of my homestay was spent making Okonomiyaki with my host mother’s sister’s family. Engaging in a ruthless news paper sword battle, playing more forms of the game tag than I knew existed, and concluding the days affairs with a nostalgic bout of Suikawari, which most closely resembles pin the tail on the donkey, except instead of placing tacks the dizzy contestant attempts to break a watermelon placed on the ground before him.
What I will always remember about that weekend is the beautifully calm morning I experienced first at the waterfalls and then before the TV playing Saturday morning toons.