Voice - Reflection from Sri KDU Students (Hokkaido)


Athrah Che Azizuddin

My host was a energetic 17 years old named Mai Tanooka. She has a little sister called Aoi Tanooka who is 12 years old. My host father's name is Atsushi Tanooka and he works as a doctor while my host mother, Kumi Tanooka,is a home -maker. My host family was very very welcoming and they made me feel like I was a part of the family.

Upon arrival at Asahikawa Station, my friends and I were warmly greeted by our host mothers. Mine was exciting waving at me and she was even holding up a beautifully decorated sign bearing my name although it was mis-spelt. I instantly felt welcomed and touched by the sign albeit the spelling. After introducing ourselves, we took our very first picture with our respective host mothers before bidding good bye and going our separate ways.

When we arrive at the house, I was given a brief tour. The house is a double storey detached with a garden inside as my host father love gardening. My bedroom was on the lower floor and I had chances to sleep the Japanese way, which was on the floor. After unpacking I had first dinner with my host family. Dinner was home-cooked Japanese food-tempura with rice and pumpkin soup. I had to say that the tempura surpassed all the tempura I have tried in Malaysia. It was definitely scrumptious. Over dinner I got know host family better. I told all about our beautiful beaches and deferent cultures of Malaysia. They were very interested. I even told them that I had watched some of the famous Japanese dramas. They were pleasantly surprised and it gave us something to talk about.

Then we went to one of the biggest malls in Asahikawa. We walked around mainly visiting shops with merchandise made in and only available in Japan. Prices are high(compared to prices in Malaysia),but I managed to snag a few souvenirs for my family and friends back home. For dinner we had Japanese pancake. It was one of my favorite Japanese foods and I was so glad to eat it there.

On my last day in Asahikawa I had chance to build a snowman with my hosts, Mai and Aoi,in their backyard. It was my first time building a snowman!
It was excited. Building a snowman is very difficult because the snow was very soft and it did not stick together. In the end we only managed a small but cute snowman. It was still very proud of it and I took lots of pictures with it.

Then it was time for me to head to the station to go to Tokyo.I gave my souvenirs from Malaysia to my host family as a sign of my appreciation. In return they gave me a scrap book filled with pictures of my time there and some Japanese snacks. We are exchanging emails and we promised to always keep in touch.
It was very emotional parting with my host family.I had grown very close to them and I was very grateful foe everything they had done for me from providing places to stay to all the mouth-watering food they treated me to.

This trip is exceptionally enjoyable and memorable. I have learned so much from this trip. To be able to experience it all over again will be a privilege.

Tunku Alysha Bt.Tunku Alizan

I had never been overseas without my family. So it was with apprehension that I sighed up for a homestay programme in Hokkaido. To sleep in a stranger's house in faraway Japan and interact with people from a different culture and backgrounf-I felt totally independent.

Asahikawa was extremely cold being up north.
The snow was so thick and it was almost knee high and the near arctic temperature made me long for sweltering weather back home. My host, Naomi Horita, was at the station to welcome me. She was warm and friendly person. The first place me to was to her mother's house.It was a quaint Japanese house with tatami mats lining the floor and there was an earthy feel.

That evening she taught me how to cook tempura.Of course we had hearty meal of Japanese rice,tempura,miso soup and white radish salad.  It all tasted very authentically Japanese.

On the finger numbingly cold morning with the temperature at negative 8 degrees,it was said to be a brilliant day to visit an outdoor zoo,we went to the Asahikawa zoo,a very popular zoological garden just outside the city. The zoo is special as many of the animals are unique to the zoo.The enclosures allow visitors to view the animals from various angles. Highlights include the penguin walks in winter and the domes in the middle of the polar bear and wolf enclosures. Most of the animals display are native to Hokkaido.
My toes were freezing off and after looking four animals,we decided to take refuge in a lounge for the warmth.

During the brief period,I had the chance to experience Homestay society's activity.
We played' duck-duck-goose' and other cute Japanese games.

Shopping took on a new dimension and I noted interesting Japanese fashion. Bold and bright colors, leopard prints and torn denims are very popular.
Although Japanese fashion did not tickle my fancy,therewere many other things to buy such as a strange gadgets and souvenir items.

The stationery is also to die for.
Pens and markers in so many colors at such cheap prices and high quality-it was a heaven for stationery lovers.

When the time came to part,my host mum drove me to the train station where I met the others.We were all sad to leave a part of ourselves behind, but the experience will long remain with us.