Where you can have a good time and enjoy!
You should add a homestay to your ‘to do list’ during your stay in Japan. I am staying in Japan for only 5 months as an exchange student at Waseda University, and I think getting to know a Japanese family is one of the thing that I should do before going back to Indonesia. This homestay program is a partnership between Waseda University and HIPPO Family Club. A week prior to the meeting, HIPPO Family gave me the details about my foster family with a family picture attached. The family has two little kids, a 7 year old boy and 3 a year old little girl. I’m so excited and nervous at the same time. I can’t wait to meet and play with the kids, but I’m also nervous because I’m afraid that the situation will be awkward between me and the family. The homestay is on the weekend, we were gathered in Takadanobaba station and with the HIPPO’s staff assistance we are going to the welcome party venue together. When we arrived, many of family members already waiting for us, happily shouting “welcome”. During the welcome party, we were singing and dancing together. I was surprised that they are already learning our country’s language beforehand, like a simple greeting and introduction.
My experience with my Japanese host family
The host family is so well prepared to welcome us, they are holding a handmade sign on which their greeting for their respective guest written. My host family wrote in Indonesian “Selamat datang, Ratih-chan” which means “Welcome, Ratih-chan”. My host mother’s name is Mami-chan, she is in her 40s and a housewife. Mami-chan is so eager to learn about Indonesia, she even brought some notes of Indonesian-Japanese phrases that are commonly used. They are taking good care of me during my homestay, when I arrived at their house, they already prepared a warm bath for me. The kids are so cute, Daisuke (7 year old boy) eagerly shows me around his house, “this is your room, this is the bathroom, this is the kitchen, dozou!” and Kotone (3 year old girl) shows me all the toys she has. The next morning, Mami-chan cooked a Japanese style breakfast, there is tofu, miso soup, and many other dishes. Mami-chan cooked so well! All of her dishes are so delicious. After breakfast, we are going to Shinagawa Aqua Park, I’m so excited because I’ve never been to an Aquarium Park before. There is a dolphin attraction, along with various other sea animals.
Despite of the language barrier, we manage to talk and play together. Mami-chan and I talk a lot about ourselves, women, and also cultural differences between Indonesia and Japan. Mami-chan is so genuinely curious about my whereabouts and of course Indonesia, she asks me to teach her some Indonesian words and Indonesian traditional dance. They are so considerate toward me, they ask about what I can and cannot eat (I can eat anything though) and also always asking my opinion first before deciding things such as if it is okay to have lunch earlier or if it is okay that we go to the Aqua Park. Daisuke likes asking me many questions, such as: “do you want to eat jelly?”, “what kind of food do you like?”, “what is your favorite color?” and so on. I feel like I’ve found my home in Japan. I’m sad that I will need to leave, as were Daisuke and Kotone. Before parting ways, they hug me so tight and said “don’t forget us, Ratih-chan.”
This homestay will be one of the best memories I have from my stay in Japan. From this homestay I could experience another side of Tokyo. Before, I only witnessed the busy streets with people who are preoccupied with their own personal businesses. But after my short stay at Mami-chan’s house, I can see the warmth and kindness of Japanese people. I strongly recommend everyone to experience a homestay program once in their life, if you are interested, you can contact HIPPO Family Club through their official website or you can go directly to their office in Shibuya.