Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Marchildons do Japan

My family flew back home to Canada this afternoon. I was sad to see them go but happy to have the apartment to myself again.

It was a fun trip. It was also an exhausting trip thanks to a jam-packed schedule that kept us busy every minute of every day. I wanted my family to experience all of the things that have made my time here so wonderful. So I tried to compress the highlights of the past seven months into two weeks.

I took my brother to volleyball practice (but he bowed out after five minutes due to insufferable forearm pain). I took my brother to tennis practice (but he beat the club president so badly that I spent a week apologizing to ease his shame and embarrassment). I took my family to visit my school (but one of the teachers invited us to his house for lunch where we drank so much sake we ended up staying five hours).

When people found out my mom, my aunt and my brother were coming to town, everyone wanted to meet them. They were treated like celebrities. My volleyball team hosted a welcome party. So did the Board of Education. My tea ceremony teacher invited us over to her house for (what else?) tea. My friends took us to the local cherry blossom festival. Another friend drove us to Kochi City to see the market, the castle and the beach.

We crammed as much as we could into two weeks. We ate several pounds of sushi and sashimi. We drank gallons of sake and beer. We sang karaoke. We went for long walks on narrow mountain roads. We slept side-by-side on futons on the floor. We took pictures of quirky English signs (my personal favourite was the massive billboard on the side of a bowling alley in Osaka that read, “Do you like bowling? Let’s play bowling. Breaking down the pins and get hot communication.”).

The highlight of the trip wasn’t the temples of Kyoto or the bright lights of Osaka but the kindness and generosity showered on us by the people of my town. Which probably explains why this photo of my Canadian family with my Japanese family is my favourite picture of the whole trip.

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