January, 2012: Breeze Issue #51

A Free Monthly E-Newsletter for Friends of Japan & Teachers of Japanese

Kaleialoha Nishimura
Durango High School

When given a great opportunity, one shouldn’t hesitate to take it. So when I was given the chance to go on the trip of a lifetime, there was no doubt that I would accept the offer. I had always loved Japanese culture, and the opportunity that I was given allwed me to experience it in the country itself. Knowing that I would experience Japan with 31 other students that had the same interests as I did, made it even all the better.

In the land of the rising sun, there were many things to do and many things to see. Whether it be an aged temple or a foggy mountain scenery, these sights were beauties to behold. Osaka castle, Kinkaku temple, and Kiyomizu temple were among the several attractions that we were able to visit. There were a few times when I would just take a few seconds to gaze upon these sights, because it was as if I were looking at a picture in a history book. As the trip continued, we also visited Chinatown, museums, and even a high school. Among the things we did, we learned how to play taiko drums, ate delicious Japanese food, practiced our Japanese speaking skills, sang karaoke, and explored whatever and wherever we could.

For a night and two days, I stayed with a Japanese family and got to have a better understanding of Japanese living. My host family had consisted of a father, a mother, and two daughters. They were very humble and kind, and were always concerned with what interested me. They always asked me what I wanted to do, what I wanted eat, or where I wanted to go. During my stay with them, I did so many things. I visited an aquarium, went shopping, played with fireworks, dressed in a yukata, ate home cooked yakiniku, and overall had so much fun. The stay was too short, but I had made a new pen pal. My host sister and I exchanged our emails, phone numbers, and addresses. Although the trip may be over, I will continue to keep in touch with my second family.

While the whole experience was truly amazing, I’d have to say that what I miss the most are the new friends that I had made. Within a short two weeks, these strangers from across the country had become my best friends. It actually saddens me as I type this, because I am looking back at all the memories we had created together. I am happy to say that Japan has helped us create lasting friendships, and I am so grateful for that.

Thanks to the JET program, I had gained more knowledge and insight on Japan. I had learned more of the Japanese culture, education, society, history, cuisine, and language. This program has inspired to continue my learning of Japan, and maybe one day, be able to go back.