You sure may have heard, that the Japanese hospitality is pretty warm. They love to show foreigners their country and are very proud of it.
I can confirm and the reason I can, is my letterfriend. I actually stayed in Tokyo 東京, but she lives in Kōbe 神戸(about 3 hours distance). Anyway, I travelled with the bullet train (Shinkansen 新幹線) from Tokyo to Kōbe. She waited at the Shin Osaka train station for me, and we went to her parent’s apartment together. Her parents were already excited to meet me, they even made a “Welcome to Japan, Sabrina” cake for me! I did’nt expect something like this!
I could spend the night there, it’s been such a dream to sleepover at a real Japanese family. The next morning, Mayo san’s (my letterfriend) mother made us some Onigiri. What a feeling, sitting at the table with a Japanese family, feets under the Kotatsu 炬燵 (low, wooden table frame covered by a futon or heavy blanket, upon which a table top sits. Underneath is a heat source which keeps you warm) and biting in to a still warm Onigiri おにぎり.
Rikscha ride through Gion, the Geisha town in Kyōto
We spent some days together, she showed me the best spots around Kyōto and even visited the Universal Studio Japan (USJ) together with me. During my stay in Japan, i had the best time while traveling with Mayo san. It’s so much easier to travel and enjoy, when you are with someone that speaks the language, in a country where not everyone speaks english.
On my last day, I could experience the Japanese hospitality one last time for my stay. My flight back home was in the morning. I had to take the shuttle from Shinjuku Station 新宿区駅 to the airport. When I arrived at the Shinjuku Station, the shuttle was already full. Luckily, I was early enough to wait for the next one. I thought “hey, I should go to a Japanese supermarket for one last time!” So I started looking for a Family Mart, Seven Eleven or Lawson. When I found one, there was a little stair to reach the store. As you can imagine, my suitcase was pretty heavy so I could’nt lift it up those stairs. On behalf of the low criminality rate in Japan, i thought I’ll just leave it outside for a min. Before I entered the store, i picked my wallet and sorted out my last coins… So, a young, 18 years old girl, no make up & hair done, wearing a training suit and holding a suitcase and looking for her last coins. Must have looked funny, anyway a Japanese lady walked out of the store, holding for a second, then walked away. But she came back and gave me a piece of bread with two hands (respectfully). I took it, also with 2 hands and whispered “Arigato Gozaimasu!”. As fast as she came, the fast she’s gone. This story still makes me smile, whenever I think of it!
Sorry for that long post, here’s a picture of my Mayo san & me in Kimonos.
My letter friend Mayo san & me in Kimonos