Woke up early at Yamanakako and cleaned the house. We then drove several hours to Tochigi-shi where we had lunch and had to give a speech to a rotary club and our host families. As the Sato’s couldn’t make it, there were three Nakagawans there to greet me instead. Mr. Kinya Ohkawa is the current club president and has been very kind to me in wake of the Sato Situation. Mr. Yuji Shiozawa is also a Rotarian and will likely be my second or third host family. And finally Mr. Kevin Blackburn. He’s an American who came to Japan 19 years ago on the JET Program and has been teaching and working in Nakagawa now for quite some time. His Japanese is fluent so he has been my (much needed) translator.
We went straight from lunch to my host town, about a 1 ½ hour drive by car. The countryside is beautiful, very different from Minnesota. The central part of Tochigi is very flat as it’s part of the Kanto flatlands. Yet Nakagawa is located right where the plane meets with a series of tight, sharp hills. They look like crowded miniature mountains as they’re so densely forested and close to one another. Through the city runs the Nakagawa river, and as today's weather was so nice the river was full of fishermen casting their gigantic bamboo poles out into the rapids fishing for Ayu (or Japanese sweet fish, a staple of Nakagawa).
My first stop was my future school. At Bato KouKou (as it’s called in Japanese) I learned some exciting news. I won’t be attending normal high school but rather a specialized Fishery and River Husbandry school that draws from all over Tochigi and even beyond. This means that I will be doing quite a bit of outdoor activities, river work, experiments, and hands-on learning. It ought to be a real adventure and opportunity to spend a year at such a school. I can’t wait. I was fitted for school uniforms and finally taken to the Onsen Family Inn Sasayaso - ささやそ. It’s a traditional family run inn on top of the bluff overlooking the river and the city.
I have my own room with a traditional tatami mat floor and futon folded bed to sleep on. There are 4 other boys who live at the inn during the school year in order to attend the fishery school so I won’t be too lonely here. After dinner I relaxed, took a dip in the Onsen, unpacked and crashed in my room. I’m exhausted now. Japan is a lot of work sometimes, but I’m still loving it!