LIFE IN JAPAN
A very brief introduction
of your homestay life in Japan
Japan is a country where modernization
can be found to coexist with traditional culture. This is especially
evident in a Japanese home. Your homestay family may own a refrigerator
that tells you when you are low on milk or a phone/fax machine
that prints out daily recipes using ingredients leftover in
your fridge, but you’ll also remove your shoes before
entering a room and likely relax on a tatami (straw mat) floor
versus sitting on a couch.
Your living accommodations will depend on the host family, however,
below are some generalizations on what you might expect to encounter
during your stay in Japan.
Most likely, your host family will live in a single-family home,
but it is possible that they might live in an apartment building.
In either case, space is a luxury and you will be amazed at
how efficiently each room is used.
Your bedroom may be small in size with barely enough room for
a desk and a bed/futon. Your room may have a tatami floor upon
which you would roll out your futon mattress to sleep on each
night, and put away during the day, allowing you more space.
Most homes do not have clothes dryers and utilize backyards
or balconies in order to dry laundry. Also central air conditioning
is not installed in most homes or apartments. Air conditioning
units are found in individual rooms, usually in communal areas.
The summers are extremely hot, and rainy season in June/July
adds to the humidity.
Spending one hour to get from your home stay location to school
or work is very common, with commuting fees ranging from 500-1000
yen (between RM16 to RM36). Public transportation in Japan is
excellent, allowing you to go anywhere you need to go via trains
and/or buses. You’ll find the trains easy to use as most
have English explanations. Many people also utilize bicycles
to get around.
In most cases, the father of the family is the breadwinner,
working Monday-Saturday, from early in the morning often until
late at night. It is not unusual for a father to return home
long after the rest of the family has enjoyed dinner together.
While the father is at work, the mother often stays home to
clean, run errands, make meals and take care of the kids. The
mother may also have a variety of hobbies, such as volunteer
activities, crafts, or learning a foreign language, depending
on her schedule. The children in most families, whether younger
or older, may be very shy around you at first. Their interactions
with foreigners may be very limited and they may hesitate to
use English. Many grandparents also live with the family.
Weekends and holidays with your host family may find you enjoying
a day at the beach with the whole family, or just with the mother
and children if the father is working or wants to relax on his
own. The host family is inviting you to live with them, and
they may have activities planned for the weekends, or you may
be on your own. Communicating your expectations is key to enjoying
your time in Japan.
Greeting is the utmost important thing in their life. Always
greet your host family when you reach home, say thank you when
someone offering you a meal. Ask for permission if you would
like to use the computer or TV etc.
Of course each situation will be different and your past experiences
and openness to the Japanese culture will determine what you
get out of living in Japan. The key to maximizing this experience
though is to use and improve your Japanese language skills and
to be open to Japan’s cultural traditions. This could
be a once in a lifetime experience and you should try to make
the most of it.
Japan and have a nice stay...!