Thousands of Miles from Home


A Whole New World

I have moved to my final host family and I now come to you live from the living room of Kondo-san’s house in Hachihama. Upon arriving, I was shocked to find a spanking new computer from which I can continue to easily blog Japanese lifestyle (of course I would have kept writing even if I didn’t have a computer in the house, but this way I don’t have to hang out in libraries, internet cafes, or shady wi-fi hotspots to give you the daily recount of Japan).

The move from Kawai-san’s house was emotional (you grow rather attached to a family when you live with them for any amount of time), and after spending 100 days in Kawai-san’s house it was strange to see my bags packed and room clean (for once). Aketa-san came to help move my bicycle and large number of suitcases to Hachihama, and some of Tomoya’s friends also came to wish me goodbye (and rummage through my bags looking for exciting things to play with/break/ask to keep).

It was perhaps a little more difficult for Kawai-san when the time came for me to leave. I packed my bags into a new host mother’s car, and moved on to another exciting adventure in Japan while she had to wave goodbye. The night before I left we exchanged gifts from American and Japan (Tomoya, instead of the mayor of Tamano, ended up with the massive West Virginia flag), and she told me that she and her husband were taking a trip to Fukushima so she wouldn’t feel too sad. She also added that I could stop by anytime, especially to eat some of grandma Kawai-san’s delicious yaki-soba (an opportunity I fully plan to exercise).

Kondo-san, my new host mother, came to pick me up in a sporty green car decked-out with a variety of Snoopy dolls. We piled my suitcases into the back of Aketa-san’s truck, and shoved the remainder into the back of Kondo-san’s mini (I was surprised it could still move with all the weight).

I waved a final goodbye to my host family, and was soon on the road to Hachihama. First, a little bit about the location:

Hachihama, translated as “eight beaches,” is unique in that there are actually no beaches in the area (due to reclaimed land). The sea is very close, however, and I can reach it with a short bike ride from the house. Location-wise the house is reasonably far from civilization, but aside from distance there aren’t too many mountains separating me from the Hachihama bus station, Tamano High School, and Okayama (if I’m feeling adventurous on the bicycle). Also, the scenery is magnificent with a large mountain (Kinko-zan) rising from behind the house and rice fields stretching out toward the sea (last night I witnessed someone with a blowtorch burning old leaves in a field, a definite first since arriving in Japan).

The family of Kondo consists of my host father (Nobuharu), mother (Junko), sister (Nobuko), and dog (Boss). My host father works in a bank and is an avid fisherman (he owns a boat and has offered to take me to an island where the fishing is excellent). Junko-san works as a counselor for the Hachihama Middle School, but is also an ardent volleyball player and coach. Nobuko is a college student at Okayama University studying Intercultural Communications; a major that she says is difficult yet exciting. She has a part time job at a local café, and plans on becoming a flight attendant. She traveled to New Zealand to study English last year (although she couldn’t find any pictures of the trip aside from her host father giving the dog a bath) and plans to study in America (perhaps Miami) next year. The dog, Boss, is 14, friendly, and very fat.

After Kondo-san brought me back to the house, I was introduced to two more members of the family, Obaachan and Baba. Obaachan is Nobuko’s grandmother, but I have not yet discerned the relation of Baba (in Japanese “baba” translates as “old woman,” so I decided to simply leave it at that). They live in a large house adjoining Kondo-san’s, with a large Japanese garden that is shared between the two houses.

My first night, the whole family gathered for “maki-zushi,” a type of make-your-own-sushi, with fried shrimp and miso soup on the side. I showed my family pictures from America (slightly outdated by this time), and some more recent DVDs from Japan on the computer.

Pictures, as well as a more in-depth description of the house and surrounding area will come soon, but for now I can safely say I will have dedicated (high speed) internet access and computer, which leaves me feeling relieved.

For now, delicious smells are wafting from the kitchen, which requires my investigation.


  • Hi Benjamin,
    I'm sure all your readers are relieved. Special thanks to your host family for the supply of internet access! They look very nice, by the way.
    Have a jolly good time.

    By Bibi Blogsberg, at 5:08 AM  

  • Hello, Benjamin!
    anna no haha desu!
    I like your blog and seeing the pics!
    Me too I wish you a good stay at your new family! Your mom and friends talk about your return to the states. Did you already fix a date?
    Say hello to your host sister; I´ve worked as a flight attendant and it was fun - for a while. :-)
    Ganbatte ne!

    By dorisg., at 2:18 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home