It was March 15, 1997. The time too early to remember. What was clear however, was the fact that I was soon going to be on my own in a country where I did not know the language or the people that I would be meeting there and staying with. The adrenaline rushed through me as I packed the last of my things and ran out of the door. I closed the door to my house and jumped in the car. The idea of leaving America and going to Japan seemed to really not have hit me yet, but now that I look back I know that I had to feel it. I think that the things that I was feeling was such a blob of mixed emotions that I really did not know how to feel so I will just say that I was excited. At the airport I met my best friend and two other friends of mine from school. We would all be traveling together, most all the time. The only things that would really be different would be where we lived and who we would live with. As the flight, Northwest number 69 to Detroit was called I could hardly wait and I jumped up, not being able to wait to board. We needed to travel to Detroit to get our connection flight to Osaka, Kansai International Airport. As soon as the plane took off it landed. Detroit was a very quick flight, only about an hour. Being a little nervous about not having enough time to make our flight I urged everyone to hurry along and to try and walk fast so that we could make our connection. Little did I know to my surprise after literally storming through the airport, the flight was delayed. Well that was okay, because we had three hours to do whatever we wanted, just the four of us in the Detroit Airport. Well we shopped, and we ate lunch. After a considerable amount of time, we boarded the plane, and off to Japan we went. I think that I knew how much trouble I was in when I heard four different meals, and five movie choices come across the loud speaker. The estimated flying time from Detroit to Osaka was about thirteen and one half hours. No big deal. I love sleeping really I do. I slept, and I watched three movies, and before I knew it there were only six hours to go. I was pumped, I could not sleep or sit anymore and I resorted to sit ups, and jumping jacks. I knew that I was a little bored, I never really just stand somewhere and do jumping jacks. I really think that from that point on the rest of the flight was quite easy and before I really knew it we were on the ground. The plane that we had been on was really big, and well I made sure to explore the entire thing, even the top floor. As we got off the plane, I made sure to thank the stewardesses and then I stepped out of the plane and into the airport. We had to walk forever to get to this monorail thing, and then we had to walk from the monorail to customs. It was quite a tour of the airport that I got. It was so clean and the people there were so quiet and polite, this was something really new to me. As we went through customs, all that I could think about was trying to find Mr. Mano, the man that was supposed to be meeting us right outside of customs. I knew that he would find us, because for some strange reason the four of us stood out. Gees could it be that we all had either brown or blond hair? After our bags came through, the challenge was on. Where was Mr. Mano? Like I said, he would find us easily. This eager man came running towards us and was ever so happy to welcome us to his country. Next stop, the train ticket office. We still had a two or two and a half hour train ride to get to the places that we were staying. Because we were not all staying together, some of us had a longer train ride then the others. I had the longer train ride along with Erica Silberstein. The train that we went on, was reserved only and it went almost two hundred miles an hour. It had a dining car, and a playroom for the young children who were on the train. As I said good bye to Lisa and Erica Fields at there stop, I got over being tired quickly and I really got excited. I only had a half of an hour more until I would meet the family that I would live with for two weeks. I was hoping to have a cool host family, and a cool sister, because that is the person that I would be spending the most time with. As my stop came up, Mr. Mano escorted us off the train and down a really long and clean stairway. This looked more like an airport then a train station. As I walked out of the gates, they checked my pass and then I was introduced to my family. They looked cool, and now the part that I most anticipated was over. As we got into the car, they asked me more questions then my mother has asked me in my whole life. When we got to their home, I was introduced to the brother and the grandparents who lived with them. The house that they lived in was cute. It had all the same things as an American home, but in a simpler and different way. The lavatory and the shower and the sink were all in separate places. The sink was in the middle of the living room, and the shower/bath area was in this room made with a special draining system. The toilet room was next to the sink, and was far from the shower room. The familys name was Omori. Mika was my sister, Kazu my brother, Mino was the father and Junko the mother. They really had different names, but they spoke English beautifully even though they did not think so. They made me a great dinner and then I took a bath. I went to sleep and awoke the next day really excited to begin my life in Japan.
Kazu, the brother took me out my first day there. We visited the small town of Sadaiji that they lived in, and we went to this really cool indoor mall place called Happy Town. We went to Mc. Donalds for lunch. We toured in and out of all the specialty shops, including the best bread shop that I encountered on my trip. As we neared the home, I began to feel tired and this day ended fast, almost as quickly as it began. The next morning we awoke early to go to school. This was a very exciting day for me, because I would get to meet my friends from America at school, and I would get to meet new people from Japan. In the way that American Children take the bus, Japanese children take the train. We got on a train at around 7:35, switched trains along the way and then continued to the country side, Kumayama, where the school I would attend would be. As we got off the train the sight was amazing. It was picture perfect, the mountains and everything. We walked ten minutes to school from the train. The school was a private school, equal to the one that I attend in America. This school was so amazing. It was set on a big hill, little did I know that I was going to have to climb fifty steps and I wore heels. As I neared the entrance to the school I was told that you were not allowed to wear shoes, only slippers to school. This was a totally weird and different thing for me and everyone else that I was traveling with. We all met up in this conference room, and we were given schedules. I was with my best friend Lisa, and the two Ericas were together as well. It worked out great, and everyone treated us like superstars. We had our own room where we could relax and miss classes if we were tired. The time difference was fourteen hours so it was a little weird at first. As we began our day, we realized that all of our classes were the English classes. Learning and knowing English is something that I found to be very important among the Japanese. Lisa and I taught many English classes, and we helped correct everything from homework to sentences written on the board. The first day of school was great. We met the principle, and prepared speeches for the next day. We would be speaking to the entire school in Japanese the next day. Something new for us to anticipate. That night we went to Happy Town, the same place that I had been the night before. We all went, with our host sisters. Just the eight of us. It was the first time that we had all been together and it was so much fun. The next day we went to school again. We spoke in front of the school. I spoke in Japanese, a language that I knew nothing of two days prior to my speech. I said that my name was Jordana and I was from New Jersey and I was happy to be in Japan. I think that all of our speeches were similar. It was great. The children, who were not permitted to sit at their assembly, were quite impressed by our ability to speak their language. At the end of school Erica Silberstein her host sister me and my host sister, went to Okayama Castle. Okayama was the closest major city to where I was staying. My family lived half an hour from Okayama by train. The next day there was no school and we went to Kyoto. We visited a street market, and a temple. We went to lunch at Mc. Donalds and then we went to the gold temple. This was a temple that was gold plated, and just beautiful. Surrounded by a lake it was a picture perfect fairy tale type of place. After the temple we went back to Okayama. Erica Silberstein and her hosts and me and my hosts went to dinner at this restaurant with menus in English. That was something very different. There were not many places with menus in English. I really enjoyed Kyoto, and the shopping there was just great. The next day again we went to school, which was just like the first and second school days there. After school this day, I went home and just hung out. This was really great considering how tired I was after constantly being on the go. The next couple of days were school as well. The children go to school on Saturdays there, that was a culture shock. The next day, Sunday was perhaps the most moving and incredible day that I experienced while I was in Japan. Just the four of us, the four American girls went to Hiroshima for the day. This is the place where the Americans dropped the first atomic bomb ever on Japan. For a place that was completely destroyed, it was the most modern and beautiful and peaceful city that I have ever seen. We visited a structure that was still standing from the bombing. It was very close to the hypocenter of the bombing. We visited a museum which really touched me, and then we went shopping. The city itself is just so beautiful and overtaking. It is nothing like any place that you can imagine. Everything there has paper cranes, symbolizing well being and goodness. One thousand paper cranes is said to be good luck. There were just so many one thousand groups of paper cranes at the memorial sites around the hypocenter where the bomb was dropped. The feeling that I was left with when I departed the city was one of indescribable emotions. I was over taken, happy, sad just over whelmed. That night we went back to our host families and my host family took me to diner. Then I went to sleep. The next three days we had school. The school had some clubs, similar to ones that we have at my school. I joined the tennis club one afternoon and that was a lot of fun. That Thursday, we went to Kobe. I call it the American city. It has a lot of American stores and things. For example, a Toys r Us in the middle of the shopping plaza that we went to. In Kobe we shopped and shopped and shopped some more. We also went to a mini amusement park and then to dinner. The last day that I was in Japan I slept in. We went to a bigger amusement park that day. I went on my first stand up roller coaster, and it was a really good time. That night I went out for a special good bye dinner.
All in all this was the most exciting and indescribable trip that I have ever gone on. It was so much fun and yet it was so educating and great. I really like learning about different cultures, and now I know a lot about the Japanese culture and language and that is what is important to me. It was my goal to go to Japan, and to learn about the culture and ways that the people there live. I feel that I reached my goal and I really learned and experienced something that I will never forget.
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