Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prehistoric Japan

I live in Jurassic park, true story, if you take away a few man eating dinosaurs, you are left with Oita prefecture. As we drove from the local airport, down a road lined with every single shade of green, I found myself humming the theme tune of said movie in my head. The bird sized butterflies and dragon flies also add to the prehistoric atmosphere. Everything is lush and all the trees, bamboo and ferns are huge. Then the highway opened up suddenly to rice paddies as far as the eye could see. At the time I was fascinated by all this rice but after having eaten a grapefruit sized bowl of it everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner it is starting to lose its appeal. As I am the adopted daughter of a very kind Japanese family I have only had 1 slice of toast so far and no coffee and while I am sure all the green tea that I am politely drinking is very good for me I am hoping that I aquire the taste sooner rather than later as at the moment it still reminds me of wood flavoured water.

First up was a prefectural meeting and then my super sweet supervisor escorted me to my ride while pointing at the driver and enthusiastically saying `boss`. My Kouchou Sensei or principle was very friendly and obviously nervous as he speaks no English. I was told a little bit about Hiji and then the three of us watched Pokemon on the TV mounted on the dashboard of Kouchou Sensei`s car. After picking up my main suitcase it was off to my new Buddhist home. The family who looked after me for those few days were just down right amazing. On the last day I even shed a little secret tear as the house mom still presented me with rice bowls and chopsticks (even though they did give a little giggle at my less than masterful technique, especially when I would cut tofu into so many little blocks that I could eat it as a yogurt). The first night however was crazy, they could speak all of 5 English words and my Japanese is at a toddlers level so there was much waving of arms and drawing of pictures. I took a traditional bath, which meant I sat on a little chair and used a shower-head to wash up, then once clean I relaxed in a hot bath.

Seeing as it was my 1st meal, my new family pulled out all the stops. Raw line fish, raw abalone and this weird creature that lives in a shell, also raw obviously. For someone who picks raisins out of hotcross buns and olives out of salad I was an amazingly good girl. I very calmly ate everything that was put on my plate and pulled the kind of face that restaurant critics employ when sampling the house special, always followed by `ah yes, very nice` or `oh how interesting` in Japanese. Inside my head of course I was going `oh my gosh, why is that so crunchy` or `did that just move, I swear it moved`. After supper I fell onto my futon and asked myself what the hell I was thinking with this little move to Japan stunt but the next night`s food was very tasty and throughout the week I was delighted to discover just what a skilled chief my substitute mom really is. She is also very good at coming to my rescue when I run into the kitchen shouting `big` in Japanese and making the universal hand as a spider running up your arm sign. Twice she had to vacuum up huge, super fast spiders and while this may not be all that Buddhist of her I was not going to question her religion as she saves my scardy cat ass.

My home-stay house

I am now living in my new apartment and will tell you all about my awesome town in the next post. I am loving it in Hiji and will be spending the next few days at an English camp dancing and chatting and most likely blowing the old Vuvuzela more than once or twice. Miss you all as always.


  1. Hey babe - you really are an amazingly good girl; I'd more than likely grimace and gag if trying to eat the described things. And at least you have the common sense to ask Mamma to help out with the spiders - I'd hide in a closet somewhere, until I realized that there too are spiders.

  2. I am really reall really really jealous that you did a home stay before you got to your apartment. How awesome!

    When I got here I stayed in a hotel for a night and then they dropped me in my apartment the next night night with a cheery "You speak Japanese. You will find you way tomorrow no problem! See you!"