Naha-City, Okinawaken | 台北縣, 士林区

My host family member greeting me at the Naha Airport Arrival Hall
(left to right) me & Tsukuru chan, (host mothers) Sayuri san & Hatue Vehara san
28 Jul - 10 Aug 2005

Patricia Han Shia Chin
Let's Challenge Yourself. Have Fun Through HOMESTAY!

I like all kinds of Japanese stuffs, such as sushi, tempura, ramen....., Japanese drama, cartoon (esp. Doeramon), Kimono......, but I never think about travel to Japan. Why? I'm not sure about that. It seems travel to Japan is an unreachable dream (lack of vitamin "M"---- Money) for me! But who knows, I came across by chance!

Choose Homestay You Will Never Regret!!
I love travel and I have been traveled many countries. From my past experienced, by joining tours, no doubt allowed you to visit famous spots in shorter time, but you have nothing to gain from the trip. You can't really feel the culture, lifestyle...... of the country that you have visited. May be...... you would gain the "tiredness" after the trip (rushing from one place to another). Therefore, besides works as a voluntary staff in Summer Camp (last year I was in USA), I highly recommended that homestay program is a smart way to know a country better. Check out my following sharing.

First Day Arrival
I was welcomed by two Okasan (which I didn't expect that I have two host families, WOW!) and one of my handsome brothers, Tsukuru. I really felt touched by their action. There were a few peoples that you never met before were excitedly expecting your arrival at the airport. At the same time, I was so nervous to meet them. This was due to I can't really understand and speak Japanese language. Thanks God, Okasan able to speak English! When I arrived home (Wow! I never thought that I have a home in Japan), Okasan gave me a tight hug! I should call this a Love Hug, a Released Hug, a Warm Hug...... This hug really means a lot to me, arigato gozaimashita Okasan. It released my worries and nervous.

Treated as A Family Member
My first host is Nakandakari's family. This family consist of Otosan (Takeya san), Okasan (Sayuri san), two Ototo (Tsukuru chan, 7 years old and Neo chan, 4 years old), and of course not forget including ME! Although this was my first time visit, I never felt that I am alien or stranger to this family. All little actions they have done showed that I'm apart of the family. For example, in the first day arrival, Okasan has an appointment and she asked me whether alright for me to stay at home with Tsukuru while she's out. Once again I was touched. This showed her trust on me! Would you let a person that you only knew for a few hours to take care of your beloved son?

Japanese people have a culture to interact with family member each time leaving or returning home. Each time when Otosan (who usually back home very late) return home, he would said "Tadaima" (means I am Home); and we would replied "Okaeri" (means Welcome Home). But sometimes I was not around or I was busy cleaning up in kitchen, he would purposely come to me and said "Tadaima". Though this only a little action, but means a lot to ME!

All these touching actions not only came from Otosan and Okasan, but also my little brother Tsukuru chan and Neo chan. Tsukuru is a thoughtful person. In my first day arrival, when Okasan went out for her appointment, Tsukuru acted as my little host. He played Jingga with me. He even wanted to bring me to walk around the play ground downstairs. But, unfortunately I didn't understand what he was trying to say. I only realized after Okasan back home and explained to me, Gomen (sorry) Tsukuru! I still remembered there was another chance he showed good hospitalization. That day, Neo chan's neck was hurt, Okasan has to bring him to doctor. Just right after Okasan and Neo chan left, Tsukuru quickly rushed back to my room and I just wondered what had happened. Later, I realized that he tried to help me arrange my bed (which normally kept in cabinet). What a thoughtful person! All these he took the initiative, acted from his heart not by order!

All these little actions counts! Everyone was prepared and accepted me as their family member. Besides "touching", I can't really find a suitable word to describe how I feel.

Activities: Visiting, Eating, Shopping, Outing.......
Okasan has brought me and Tsukuru visit the Shurijo Castle Park, where started the Kingdom of the Ryukyus. That day was a sunny day, very hot. Pity both of them (Okasan and Tsukuru), I think they have been visited this place for many times (this family has hosted many people). Nevertheless, they still willing to accompany me to look around, instead of just letting me visit alone and pick me up later. The most interesting during visiting the Shurijo Castle Park was Tsukuru and I were busy looked for stamps in order to stamp it in our brochure. It seems I have gone back to my childhood.

Of course not forgot to visit the busiest street - Kokusai Street. It's shopping time! Okasan also brought me to market. It's air-conditioned. You can find all local stuffs here, from vegetables, meats, seafood, ingredients, shoes, shirt etc. Fishes that sell there are fresh and very colorful. You may even find the "Pig face" there, which is one of the Okinanwan's favorites.

Besides tried the Sushi and Tempura (typical Japanese food), I also have the opportunity to try the Okiwanan's food, such as Okinawa Soba (Noodles), Goya (a bitter taste vegetable), Zenzai (like our Air Batu Campur add Mochi), Orion (beer), Sata Andagi (ball-shaped doughnuts).. etc.

I have joined two times Hippo Club's weekly activity. I was so amazed with those members, who able to speak in different languages. They also showed their eagerness to learn these languages.

Otosan owns a boat. Therefore, I have an opportunity to go ocean for fishing and snorkeling. Hurray! Once again I have crossed the challenge (Because I can't swim. For those who can't swim will understand how scared I was). I never think that I have a chance to try snorkeling. Beautiful fishes! (Karen, I saw many "Dolly" fishes). Thus, special thanks to Otosan and Okasan for giving me such a great opportunity. Of course, not forget to thanks to Steven for your courage.

Although I only spent a night in my second host family, Hatue Vehara san house, I have learned many things from them (Coincidence, her daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren visit her). They taught me how to prepare meals, how to fold origami (paper folding) and play 'Sanshin' (Okinawa popular instrument).

Additionally, I have opportunity to attend the intensive 'Chado' course (tea ceremony). I realized that there are many steps need to be followed, no matter you are in the position of preparing tea, serving tea or drinking tea.

Among those activities that I have participated, the most enjoyable activity for me was the sharing time with my Otosan and Okasan. We have discussed about languages, costume, festival, foods, games.. and so forth. I love such discussion. Unfortunately, the time was too short. This was because Otosan usually came home late from office. From the discussion we able to understand each other's culture better.

Sayonara Okinawa ! 您好Taiwan
Time flies. I hate to say bye-bye to my host. When I just about to pick up some Japanese conversation, but is time for me to leave. At that time I wished that I can stay a bit longer. I did cry (other than Okasan, luckily no one saw my ugly face!). It was so hard to for me to say SAYONARA. Miss you everyone! Especially Okasan, Otosan, Ototo (Tsukuru and Neo).

This was my second time visited Taipei, Taiwan. In the first time, I was transit in Taipei with my friend Tracy. We have bad experienced in carrying our heavy bagged from airport to our hostel. Nevertheless, this nightmare (should I called it 'daymare'?) did happen again!!! I hope it wouldn't happen when I visit for the third time.

Taipei reminded me all kinds of delicious foods, especially those in night market. When you go to visit the night market, my advice is go in a group of people. Why? Then you may try more foods lah! Those youngster that we met are quite friendly, you may easily get into their conversation. Special thanks to 'Jia Yu' and Ben for spare their time with us to Yang Ming San. There was a great place!

Friends, let's challenge yourself. Have fun through HOMESTAY!

God Bless!
Impression by Patricia Han, VIP Support Executive



We have intensive 'Chado' with Kayoko san. Many rules need to follow. Oh no! I've poor memory. How can I memories all the rules?

I've opportunity to learn 'Sanshin' from a kid! One of the traditional instruments in Okinawa.

My handsome Ototo, Tsukuru chan with his pet

"Now you see, now you don't.. yummy.." . My another lovely brother, Neo chan. He used to pose funny actions when taking pictures

Just can't imagine that I even have 'niece and nephew' in Japan!!! My second host, Hatue Vehara san's grandchildren visited her

"Okasan, I caught FISH!!!". Otosan brought us fishing, snorkeling, and picnic厖.. what a wonderful day!

Beautiful Yugata must match with nice hairstyle

Special thanks to Massa (the typhoon). Weird ?? It was because, I has been treated as a princess here. Wake up, eat, watch movie at home, rest, eat.. without feeling hungry, your second meals is up!

"I can fly." The strong wind blow. "Cut! Eh, Ah Keong (on left) , keep yourself away from my picture! Don't spoil my scene! Buat kacau aje"