The home stays have been the most special part of our trip and have allowed us to not only experience the Japanese culture in-depth, but also to form life-long friendships. I will miss my last host family in Morioka and hope to visit them again someday.
Norio Ogasawara, his wife Shoko, and their daughter Rie, all welcomed me as part of the family. Norio works as a real estate appraiser, while Rie is a doctor in Morioka. After a superb dinner of fresh sashimi and pink rice (in honor of the cherry blossom season), we stayed up late talking over many glasses of sake and ocha, and nibbling on desserts.
Their home, built three years ago, combines traditional and modern elements. Beams of dark wood from their old home blend with the new, lighter woodwork. Shoko has a large outdoor garden with magnificent views of Mt. Iwate, and her hobby is ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). Rie spoke excellent English (which compensated for my poor Japanese) and I enjoyed our discussions as we had much in common given our similar age.