AFS-Jenesys Homestay in Tottori

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December 9th, 2009

Finally, this day I had to leave Hiroshima. Hiroshima was full of surprises. Despite being bombed by an atomic bomb 64 ​​years ago, the city managed to rise. Now it is so beautifully managed and has lots of amazing places.

Hiroshima from Rhiga Royal Hotel

I was fond of the parks in this city. They were so large. It seemed that Japan pay a lot of attention to its air quality. It could be seen from the number of trees in the parks and playgrounds. Moreover, there were a lot of cyclists. I felt so jealous to see people cycling. It seemed very comfortable to use bicycles here.

Early in the morning, we had to pack things up, because we would go to our own chapter. Previously, we had been warned to only carry a small bag or suitcase to the host family place, while the other items would be sent to a hotel in Yokohama. Because after 5 days of homestay at the host family house, we would go to Yokohama. But I ended up overwhelming myself, the items I sent were only two small bags, while the one I carried were a medium suitcase plus a troublesome bag plus a super heavy backpack! ^^’

When I saw the others, mostly they only brought one backpack or an extra bag, or just one small suitcase. I was a bit shocked. Could they survive for five days with those small bags? But they looked comfortable when they walked. Whereas I was stumbling on the road … until I was helped by Momo-san, our tour guide.  Arigatou Momo-san. :’) When she held my backpack, she was shocked as it was very heavy and said, “Wow, you are so strong! How can you carry this heavy backpack? What’s in it?” Hehe, I just smiled, I also didn’t know why my backpack could be that heavy. ^^’ Actually, my belongings were loaded with souvenirs for host family and host school. The size was pretty huge for some items.

Well, I got a homestay in Tottori chapter, a prefecture that is 200 km from the central chapter, Osaka. Tottori is a city famous for pears, and the only city in Japan that has desert. Eh? How come? Just look at the pictures later. ^^

We traveled from Hiroshima to Tottori using Shinkansen, then got off at Himeji Station. From Himeji Station, we took a local train or usually called Densha (electric train) to Tottori. By the way, I saw Himeji Castle that I really loved. I had seen it on the internet and it said there were a lot of ninjas. Wuaaah, since childhood, I had been dreaming to be a ninja and I really wanted to learn ninjutsu. Ninja looked really cool to me. But since it was only a transit, I could not go there. At the Densha, I looked at the scenery through the window. During the trip, I found many villages, small rivers, and rice fields. The river was very clear, I could look at the bottom. How could an industrial country had clean river? Awesome!

When we arrived at Tottori Station, we were greeted with people from Tottori chapter. ^^ Before going to host family house, we would take a walk around Tottori. By the way, in this chapter, there were 4 people from Australia and 1 person each from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, India, and New Zealand. In addition, there was one teacher from New Zealand. So in total, there were 10 students, one teacher, plus a tour guide, Momo-san and one AFS volunteer, whose name I forgot … gommen ne .. Even though in Densha I sat next to her and talked along the way about Indonesia, Islam, and universities in Japan. It is often difficult for me to remember ones name if I only meet once. I remembered that the AFS volunteer went to Hiroshima University. When she arrived at Tottori, she couldn’t come with us because she had to go to a place in Tottori. On the bus, I sat with the Thai student who would be in the same host family with me.

The main destination of this trip was the Tottori Desert, or the people around called it Sankyu. After I saw it, it really was looked like a desert!

Tottori desert or Sankyu

The sea was really beautiful. Momo-san said if we swam across, we would get to China. Well, it was impossible for us to swim in winter temperature. ^^’ Above all, it might be really far away and took months to swim I guessed. Unless I’m Saotome Ranma … haha. It was really fun here. When we arrived at the top of the sand, we dropped by slumping down. Well, it was like childhood memory.

After finished playing with the sand, we would go to the replica museum of sand. Before leaving, I planned to take picture with a camel, but Momo-san banned it, because she said that if we wanted a portrait of camel, we would have to pay 1000-yen. Expensive! The camels were not original from Tottori, said Momo-san. They were imported from the Middle East. So the sand dunes would look like a real desert. ^^ By the way, there was illumination that hadn’t been turned on yet. It would be turned on at night.

Momo-san said that the illumination would be really beautiful. In Japan, even though Christmas hasn’t come yet, you can feel the Christmas vibe since November. Although the majority of the population are not Christians. Momo-san said again, the Christmas celebration here was only part of the adopted western culture. Including Valentine’s culture. She said that the important thing was fun.

replica museum of Tottori sand

Replicas from Sand

After that, we went to an aquarium that sold squid, octopus and crabs. I just looked around and bought nothing. I saw it cost thousands of yen, it was really expensive. Suddenly I found a takoyaki stall. I really wanted to try it! One portion cost 500 yen. The portion was very large, and tasted really delicious. Takoyaki is a food made from octopus and flour, which is formed round ball and given a particular sauce on it.

After leaving the aquarium, it was time to go to host family house! All the Host families were waiting at Tottori Station. In Tottori chapter, we would be divided into Tottory city and Kurayoshi City. The teacher from New Zealand (Ms.Lynne), together with Indian (Samyak), Malaysian (Chuan), and 2 Australian (Emily and Adrian) students would be placed in Kurayoshi city. The rest were in Tottori City, including me.  Well, it was a bit hard for me to be parted with Momo-san, I was very close to her because I often learned about Japanese from her. In addition, she had a cheerful personality that made you feel comfortable with her.

The one who picked me and the Thai student was Okaasan (mother). For the first time, I said “Douzo Yoroshiku Onegai Shimasu”. From Tottori station, Okaasan drove us to her house. The house was like a modern Japanese house in general.

Entering the house, I had to use slippers that Okaasan had already provided. My room was on the 2nd floor. On the 2nd floor there were two Okaasan’s children’s rooms. I took Okaasan’s first son’s room, while the Thai student took Okaa-san’s second son’s room.

Okaasan has two sons. However, both were already adult and didn’t live at their home anymore. Okaasan said her first son worked at an American company in Shizuoka, while her second son was a doctor in Okayama. The first son’s room had a lot of novels and videos. While the second child’s room had a lot of comics.

A few hours later, Otousan (father) returned from the office. FYI Otousan was a president of an electronics company, so he was very busy. Finally, dinner time! We were greeted with crabs as big as a basin! It was sooooooo huge that I and the Thai student immediately said this was the biggest crab we had ever seen. Otousan and Okaasan were rather shocked, they thought that in our country the crabs were as big as that. It was really delicious! We were also welcomed by Shashimi and there were a lot of fried fish. There was a lot of food! Okaa-san had already understood that I didn’t eat pork and alcohol. So I could eat everything. \(^o^)/

After having a long conversation about each other’s country, it was time to sleep! Next day, I would go to the senior high school! See you tomorrow at school. ^^

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