When the temple gongs started ringing at 5:30 this morning I literally sat straight up in bed. I woke up fearing everything from a falling ceiling to Godzilla! Even though Max had warned me this would happen, I was still caught off guard. Luckily I fell right back to sleep and we didn’t leave for the orientation program until about 9am. The Inaki family was so kind to me that I wish I had brought them more than a few letters. They gave me a little gift basket to take with me too, including Japanese paper, chopsticks, and a folding cloth. I definitely hope to be back again.
When we arrived in Tochigi City this morning we walked into the conference center where our favorite Matsuba-San was waiting for us; you may remember her from Yamanakako fame. She is our Rotary governor and her job is to make sure we have an awesome year. And let me say, she does a darn good job! She is youthful, bubbly, and always petting my head saying, “so handsome, so handsome!” Haha =) apparently she told everyone we were married.
Today all 5 exchange students gave short speeches about there families back home, listened to the rebound students talk about there experiences last year, and enjoyed each other’s company. I was so excited to see Chisaki Iijima again. She was one of the Rotary students to Minnesota this past year with Ryota. She has been so kind, generous, and fun to be with! She helped do a small counseling session with Matsuba-San and I have no idea what I would have done without her fluent English. I hope we’ll be able to get together often while I’m here in her home state of Tochigi.
The history museum we visited included (somewhat scary) wax replicas
We spent the afternoon sightseeing Tochigi. The city is very old and so we walked along a scenic river path, took a ride in a traditional covered boat, and visited a museum housed in buildings dating back to the Edo period. It was a beautiful city with lots to do and even more history to uncover. It is nice to spend time with such understanding, international people as Rotarians. You know they truly grasp why you have taken this year to live in another country. And what I realized today is that one of the main reasons for which I am here is quite simply to meet them! The connections that I make here in Japan are undoubtedly one of the things I will cherish most from my exchange.