Four Teens, One Shower; Life With My Host Family
Blogger: Miranda Sieg
As you may or may not know, my host family consists of two parents, three siblings, and a dog.
So, while my Japanese is improving rapidly (by my standards) I'm still not at a conversational level most of the time, particularly at home where I mostly spout single-words and hope they get the message. My relationship with my host siblings is kind of strange because a) they don't speak a word of English, and b) they're all teenagers and I'm very much an interloper. They're also all super busy, particularly the boys, so I rarely if ever see them around (I can go days without seeing my oldest host brother).
Until this weekend I basically only talked to my host mom, maybe my host sister every once in a while (she's the youngest, just started her first year of high school). The dad is aaaaalways busy. He leaves around 5:30 in the morning, which is when I wake up the first time, only to promptly roll over and return to oblivion for another half hour or so (oh early Japanese days). So he leaves around 5:30 and comes back at like 9:00pm. So I see him sometimes, but we can't communicate very well. He isn't old enough that he uses unintelligible Japanese but, his pronunciation is pretty garbled to my ear, and he talks fast. He doesn't understand me either, so we usually communicate through my host mom, me speaking Janglish and her translating to proper sentence structure, then telling me his reply in English. It's weird. Anyway.
Of the boys, the younger one (sophomore in high school)'s dream is to become a professional soccer player. He's on the varsity team of a famous sports school and he practices all day, every day, including weekends (most times). So we have breakfast together and he grunts and plays with his phone. I see the older boy even less. He's a sophomore in college, although he's only 19, plus he has a part-time job.
That is, until this weekend. Friday night I stayed out and did karaoke with friends until like nine. That's one awesome thing (for me) about Japan; the last train leaves at 12, so most people party until like 10, 11 at the latest, then head home because it's either that or take the first train in the morning at around 5. Anyway, so after karaoke I didn't have anything planned for Saturday so I decided to hang around with my host fam for a while, something I'd been meaning to do. All the kids were scattered around the living/dining/kitchen room, the boys on the couch and the girl wandering in and out. Middle host brother and sister were mostly on their phones, but somehow my oldest host brother and I got into a bunch of discussions about culture in the United States and such.
It's really interesting, I just love to see Japanese perceptions of America, though I don't like most of them so I sort of try to squash them. I'm a Japanophile, what can I say. So anyway, he and I hung out a bit both Friday night and throughout Saturday. Of course he disappeared again on Monday but, I hope this was the start of something new!
So yeah, this past weekend was awesome. After karaoke Friday I planned my trip to visit my family members in Kyushu and Osaka (and have been emailing pretty steadily with my uncle!) then Sunday my friend's host dad took me and two other study abroad students (who also happen to be Oxy kids) to Ueno Zoo and Asakusa Temple, among other things. (We walked for like, eight hours straight, no joke, I do not know how her host dad did it.) Tomorrow (Wednesday) I'm going on a trip to see sumo! The national tournament is in session so, these are some qualifiers. The matches get more skilled as the day goes on, I'm pretty excited! This weekend I'm going to see a professional soccer game with my host family (!!) and then Monday I'm leaving for a five day trip to Kansai, which is an area south of me that houses Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and most of remaining old Japan. I've been to Kyoto before and I'm super excited to go again!
Fun fact, in Japanese, the word for giraffe is Kirin, which is a Chinese mythical creature