08 June 2008

Home-stay, tempura and a lonely night...

The day before yesterday (June 6, 2008), I received an email from my host family asking me for a possible home-stay during the weekend. I was not entirely free and had some scheduled tasks for the weekend. However, I recalled my refusal to a proposed trip last time (some 2-3 weeks back) due to my academic priorities. So this time, I decided to join them. Let me tell you one thing about my host family: they are extremely warmhearted, helping people belonging to a typical Japanese high-class society.

On Saturday (June 7, 2008) I reached Hiroshima railway station at around 1 o'clock where, my host family's otosan & okaasan (father & mother) were waiting to receive me. After refreshment at a restaurant near the station, we proceeded to Hiroshima YMCA building, where there was a program organized by JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) for a touring group of Indian students. I was surprised and almost unaware of the fact that why my host family wanted me to join them in such a gathering. I could not stop myself from asking my okaasan about the proceedings. She replied that the program was actually organized for the Indian students to provide them with an opportunity of a home stay at a Japanese house in order to facilitate the cultural exchange. She further explained that she was not sure about communicating with the guest student (In case, the guest was not familiar with Japanese language). As she knew my ability to speak Hindi, she felt my presence would be a convenient option in facilitating proper communication. Now I knew the purpose of myself attending that programme. Nevertheless, It was a good opportunity for me as well, as I could meet many in the visiting group and even ended up making few new friends.

The welcome speech was followed by a series of speeches and then, we were introduced to the particular guest student assigned to have a home stay at my host family's house. She was a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. My okaasan was mostly concerned about her food habit; so asked if she could eat meat. She was visibly disappointed after knowing that the guest was a vegetarian. However, as a big surprise to all of us, the guest was fluent in Japanese having studied the language for last 4 years. I was too relieved after knowing this...anyway, after some formalities, we proceeded towards my host family's house which is, about 30 minute drive from Hiroshima.

Soon, I was in my host family's house for yet another experience of a home stay. However, unlike previous trips, this time my expressions resembled someone having a good knowledge of Japanese life and culture; because of the new guest from India. After having a brief visit to the astonishingly well decorated rooms, We started talking on cultures of our countries; especially, about how the Indian culture is different from the Japanese one.

Let me admit that despite of living in Japan for more than two years, I have not fully adopted to the local food habits. To me, there are always few things to choose from a number of Japanese food items. But the problem, this time, was actually with the vegetarian guest from India. After having extensive discussion on what could be a possible proper supper for the new guest, the decision was to go for "vegetable Tempura" (Tempura is a popular element of Japanese cuisine, and consists of battering fish and/or vegetables and deep frying them. It is different from many other deep fried foods by being much lighter and tending to carry less oil). At about 10 o'clock, we were around the dinning table for a typical "Japanese dinner". Itadakimasu...(A typical Japanese expression to show good manners before starting to eat) And, I don't need to write how difficult was it for the guest to have a dinner without "Curry", probably, for the first time. Gochisosama deshita...(A typical Japanese expression said after the meal in appreciation).

After the dinner, we sat around the TV but kept talking about many things including the "Tempura" that how is it similar to a popular food from Indian or Nepalese cuisine. Finally, it was around 11:30, when we said good night to each other.

I am living in Japan, alone for last few months; but the loneliness becomes more prominent and painful once I visit my host "family", particularly during a home-stay. I could not sleep almost whole night. My memory had a flash back to the time when I was actually with my family; however, something was missing for sure...

June 8, 2008: I "woke up" early in the morning. The schedule was to visit a beautiful nearby city called Iwakuni. I took shower and got ready for the trip well ahead of the schedule. My okaasan asked me if I had a comfortable and convenient sleep. "Of course!" was my response. We had a "nice" breakfast (bread, butter/jam, milk/juice along with various fruits) and "our" guest seemed reasonably happy with what she found in the breakfast.

At around 10:30, we started the trip to Iwakuni. It was a good 1 hour journey from my host family's house. It was my second visit to the place. However, the excitement and enthusiasm was not at all less than what I felt during my first trip. Iwakuni is known for its traditional castle town. But its major attraction is the 193 meter long uniquely structured wooden arch bridge called Kintai bridge. The technique used to construct the unsupported 35 meter arches from relatively short timbers is awesome. I took some pictures of the the bridge which has been constructed over Nishiki river. Please take a look:

(Kintai Bridge, Iwakuni, Japan)
The original bridge was erected in 1673 and considered then as "indestructible". However, It was severely hit by a violent typhoon "Kijiya" on September 14, 1950 and partly destroyed. The renovated new bridge was constructed and reopened for public on January 15, 1953. The bridge and surrounding scenery constitute a majestic view.

(Kintai Bridge, Iwakuni, Japan)
There are many other places worth seeing in Iwakuni. The list includes Iwakuni castle, Momijidani Maple park, Kikko park etc. After visiting the place, we had our lunch at a beautiful place. Below is a photograph of the Japanese restaurant that resembles a monument.

It was about 1:30; soon we were on the way back to Hiroshima. We had a brief visit to Hiroshima Castle before concluding the trip.

(Hiroshima Castle, Hiroshima city, Japan)
The history of Hiroshima castle goes back to 14th century. However, on August 6, 1945, the castle was destroyed along with almost "everything" in Hiroshima, by the atomic bomb blast. The present structure was erected in 1958 and has been converted into a museum to exhibit the historic artifacts.

At around 4 o'clock, It was the time for me to say sayonara (good bye) to everyone: my host family as well as the Indian guest, who actually had become a friend by now. I promised them that I would send all the photographs taken through my camera and will be "in-touch". Finally, I caught a train and was on the way back to Saijo. In the train, I was again alone...thinking of everything that happened yesterday and today...the home-stay, tempura and the lonely night...

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Rajani on June 9, 2008 at 8:25 AM said...


Its nice information about home stay.
You visited in the lovely place and enjoyed a lot but on the other hand I did not understand why have choosen the title with lonely night. Its seems that you were homesick when you went for home stay. Sorry for this comment. he he he.
You also met the people from India too. I think so its better if you explain some about them too.
Overall, its nice and amazing.
Keep it up.


ramsted on June 9, 2008 at 5:38 PM said...

hello dai,

let me congratulate u first for starting a blog like this. it was wonderful to read and know ur experience first hand about the japanese parents. we had something like this in our med school days, known as preceptor. they are really helpful and guide u in different situation. u also get to know about the culture and people of the country. i hope u continue to have such experiences to share with us. looking forward to to get more updates.


Anonymous said...

Rajani ji,
Thanks for your encouraging comments.You don't need to feel sorry about anything... & I am happy that you liked the post.

Dear Harendra,
Thanks for the compliment. Its good to know your experience with the preceptor during your med school days. please keep visiting the blog.

Sujan said...

Dear dipendra dai
It's a flash back to me about my home stay few years back.Your column is quite encouraging for the foreigners to have a host family.I really appreciate the way u're shearing ure feelings towards different aspect through ure blog.
Pl's continue the show.........

Anonymous said...

Sujan ji,
Its always nice to hear from you. & Thanks for your remarks...

Anonymous said...

Hello Deependra jee
First of all Congratulation for opening own Blog! Only handful of people will have zest to do begin and make continue. All the best in future as well! I appreciate your narration skill and simplicity which make every body understandable.
I like your way of choosing title also like Home stay, Tampura and lonely night. It give clear picture of your activities and your daily life. The best part of the Blog is that once you write comment or Blog it will make you curiosity and impatient for reply thinking that what other tell or comment about you or what Blogger write next. I hope every body who participating in this Blog are also in same condition and this make a Blog successful.

Rajani, Deependra jee ko “lonely night” in title kina bhane Japan ma aklai basda kasko badhi samjhana auchha ra kahile auchha bhanera adrisyo rupama Blog garna ni.


Basanta Gautam on June 13, 2008 at 8:01 AM said...

Thank you Deependrajee for informing me about your blog. It is great!
I have just added it in my blogroll.

It was nice to read about your home-stay experience. Frankly speaking, even after living in Japan for more than 5 years, I don't have any home-stay experience. Seems, I should try some.

And I can understand your loneliness in that environment.

Please keep on writing. Happy Blogging!!

Anonymous said...

Narendra ji,
I appreciate your comments. Thanks for acknowledging the relationship of a blogger with the readers... By the way, I liked the way you have analyzed the relevance of "lonely night" title.

Basant ji,
I have always been an admirer of the write-ups in your blog. Thanks for your encouraging remarks and adding link of this blog in your's. & I am happy that you liked my experience of the home-stay.
I will try to continue sharing my views and experiences in coming days. Hope to hear from you again...

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