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My first trip to Japan (Summer 2007)

My first - and up to now only - trip to Japan was quite an overwhelming experience for me. First of all, I had never been outside of Europe nor taken an airplane in my life. The feeling I had when leaving the Narita airport was undescribable. As a small child entering Disneyland, I was looking with big open eyes around me, analysing everything around me while typhoon Man-yi was slowly making his way up to Tokyo.

I was attending a short term language program for a month in Shinjuku (Tokyo) while staying with a homestay family in Machida. Especially the latter was very interesting to me. You get to know so much about Japanese culture when you stay with a real family. Even daily routines
as eating together, watching tv, sleeping and taking the train to school were already additions to my common sense of living. It made every day feel challenging and worthwhile to get up early in the morning (something I just can't do in my own country). Though I may have had reasons to stay in bed longer. Temperature was up to 40 degrees and a 30 minutes trip to Shinjuku with a fully loaded train was on the schedule every day. But I enjoyed it, I enjoyed every second of it.

Besides those things, I also had the chance of visiting the junior high school of my host brother, join up with a karate course and last but definetly not least visiting Kamakura and climbing Fuji-san with my otousan. All in all I couldn't have had a bether first trip to Japan than this one. Despite my pretty basic Japanese I created a great relation with my host parents, 3 host brothers and 1 host sister (all aged from 8 to 18 years old).

My favorite moment in Japan ? Was it standing on top of Fuji-san ? Do an all-nighter in Shibuya and finding an authentic Belgian beer and restaurant place ? Experiencing my first earthquake (6.6 magnitude) ?

Nope; no doubt my best times were playing soccer with my 8-years old host brother and his friend till sunset, sweating our asses off, and getting ourselves a well-deserved ice-cold Mitsuya Cider of the nearby vending machine.


I really enjoyed reading this. I can very much relate to the last part. I had a similar experience when I first visited the US as a teenager and stayed with a host family. The best moments tend not to be the trips to famous locales or fun nights out on the city but those everyday moments where you felt like you were a part of "that world". Does that make sense? Anyway, thank you for posting it.

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