Nagoya, Japan 2008

cultural exchange in Nagoya, Japan

Nagoya is one of the largest cities in Japan. However, our time there was spent in the peaceful outskirts of the rural farming areas where we were invited to use our friend/travel companion Michael’s host family’s house as our base of operations for the trip. This lead to quite the cultural exchange.

After spending our first night in Tokyo, we made our way out to Nagoya to meet the host family. Katsu, the host Dad, spent many years of his life in New York and had many amazing and crazy stories to tell. He is a retired teacher who loves discussing American movies and politics while drinking copious amounts of sake. His wife, Hideko, spends her time cleaning and preparing some of the most amazing food of the trip- much of it made with vegetables grown in the garden that they spend so much time on every day.

Our first night with the host family was spent eating a massive feast of homemade sushi. Since Erica and I have always lived in the Southwest, this was the night we lost our sushi virginity. Even though we didn’t know what to expect, it didn’t take long before our chopsticks were fighting for the wonderfully tender and delicious food (especially the octopus). We often eat sushi at Japanese restaurants in States and reminisce, but nothing will ever come close to Hideko’s cooking.

cultural exchange in Nagoya, Japan

During this meal, we learned that the word ‘raw’ doesn’t really exist in Japan. Food is either ‘fresh’ or ‘cooked’. Also, there is no word for rooster– they are ‘male chickens’.

At the time of our trip Desperate Housewives was very popular in Japan, which led to their eldest daughter, Izumi, asking us hilarious questions about American culture. Some examples:

“How do you make lemonade? Really, that’s it?”
“Does everyone in America love peanut butter?”
“Does everyone always walk around in bath robes?”

In hindsight, I guess it could have been worse. Much, much worse. We should be thankful that it was Desperate Housewives and not something like Jersey Shore.

I cannot describe what it was like to be out in the country like that. After our small greeting party and an innumerable number of drinks, we sat outside the house. Words cannot describe the excitement we had, yet we were calmed by the cool breeze brushing across our faces and the thousands of crickets outside singing to their hearts content. It is then, at that perfect moment, that the train from Nagoya came rushing through town with the faint and comforting clickity clack of the rails.

In the morning, Hideko had gotten up at the crack of dawn and made us a traditional Japanese breakfast, ready and waiting for us to roll out of bed. Jetlagged, full of yummy goodness, and coffee in our hands, we were happy. We were on the adventure of our lives and could hardly contain ourselves.

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