Here is the story of a Japanese girl who went to the US to study English and stay with an American family. But, this story is a little different than most. While most of her friends went to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle to study, Yukiko went to the small farming community of Greenville, Ohio. Her parents felt that the big cities were dangerous and were afraid she would end up just hanging out with other Japanese students, so they sent her where they thought she could have a unique experience!
Of course, she wanted to go to the west coast, but still she was excited to go abroad. After enduring the seemingly endless flight across the ocean, transferring in Texas where she had trouble understanding anyone and finally arriving in Ohio, she was pooped. Her host family met her at the airport and took her to their house and she slept like a log.
The next morning she awoke to find herself on a farm with 80 acres. The nearest neighbor was a pretty long walk down a gravel road. There were no city lights, no shopping centers, nothing! It looked pretty dismal.
Interesting facts about Okinawa Japan
Okinawa Japan is different from all the other prefectures of Japan. I’ve been told that Okinawa is the Hawaii of Japan. By this, people mean that it is separate from the rest both geographically and culturally. Many Japanese go to Okinawa for vacation because of its warm climate and beautiful beaches. For those how don’t know much about the islands, here are some interesting facts!
-Okinawa is not one island, but a whole island chain. It is separated into three major groups of islands. The capital, Naha, is located on the main island, called Okinawa Island.
-Okinawa is about halfway between Taiwan and Japan. Actually, the island chain between Okinawa and Taiwan is disputed by the two countries.
-Like Hawaii, Okinawa was once an independent kingdom. Ryuukyuu, as it was called, traded a lot with China. In the early 1600’s, at a time when Japan was isolated from the rest of the world including China, the Japanese invaded Okinawa and set up a trading relationship. One reason was that they could trade with China indirectly. Ryuukyuu was kept as a separate sovereign kingdom until the Meiji Restoration in 1867, when it officially became part of Japan.
-Okinawan people are more ethnically related to Chinese and Filipinos than mainland Japanese. As a result, some Okinawan languages are still spoken. In addition, Okinawa has its own ancient religious beliefs which are still widely practiced.
One of the coolest eating experiences of Japan is kaiten sushi. These are the places where you go in and sit at a long bar with a chef in the middle, and he makes the sushi and puts it on plates which go around and around on a conveyor belt (that’s what “kaiten” means) and you just pick off whatever looks good. At the end you pay for what you ate!
This is a great way to try new sushi you’ve never seen before. When I first visited Japan, my friend took me to one of these places. I didn’t know much about sushi, so I just picked off the weirdest looking things I could find. I took everything with tentacles or eyes. And, in the end I discovered a bunch of things I love now, like octopus and salmon eggs. Don’t be afraid! Give it a try!
Japan Food: An Eating Odyssey!
Did you know there’s more to Japan food than just sushi and tofu? Don’t get me wrong, sushi and tofu are both great! But, there’s much more to be eaten and enjoyed in Japan! In fact, I would go so far as to say the food is one of the things that makes living in Japan so wonderful. Japan is one of the healthiest countries in the world, with the longest average life expectancy and almost no obesity whatsoever. And, you know what? THEY EAT!! Here’s a little sampler of my favorite delicacies.
Sashimi- Okay, this is the raw fish you’ve heard so much about. In the States, most sushi rolls you get in your local Japanese restaurant contain no raw fish and often no fish at all. Sashimi refers to the slabs of raw fish that you get either wrapped up with some rice and a spot of wasabi. You can also get sashimi by itself on a platter and dip it in your own mixture of soy sauce and wasabi. Get over your fear of the rawness! Japanese people eat it all the time and nobody gets sick. It’s actually very delicious and healthy, and I recommend it for anybody who likes seafood.
-The bath. Most modern apartments have the Japanese style “o-furo” instead of a regular shower. It’s actually cooler than a shower, once you figure out how to use it. Basically, there’s a tub and a shower in a little room, and you can spray water all over the little room because there’s a drain on the floor!
You’ll probably have to turn on the HEAT before your shower (this is important!!). The shower is pretty much the same as we have in the west, but the bath is different. Of course, you probably can’t read what the Japanese buttons say, but experiment with different things and see what happens! Among other little miracles, there’s a way to program it to fill itself up, and you can have a heated bath ready for you on those cold winter nights!