by Ian Leo Tay
Second year Diploma in Business Administration student, School of Business.
Anticipation and anxiety filled our minds when we departed from Singapore Changi Airport on the 29th of November 2006. The long awaited trip was here at last and we (10 students and Ms Angelvin Parma of SAA) were moments away from experiencing a whole new lifestyle and culture.
The pre-departure activities were a big hassle for the group. Countless numbers of dance rehearsals and administrative work had to be done to ensure that this trip would be a successful one. This bonded the group and it was always laughter and joy when were we together.
Following the Flight to Tokyo Narita Airport, we boarded a chartered bus to Haneda Airport and took a domestic flight to Miyazaki. It was a long and tiring trip and most of us took the opportunity to rest in the plane and bus. Upon reaching Miyazaki, we were warmly welcomed by the Japanese host families and members of MISFA.
It was a 2 hour ride from Miyazaki city to Kitago Town where we were designated for our home-stay. It was a pleasant surprise for me as this is the home town of my Japanese friends whom I have not met for 6 years. At the Nosan Centre in Kitago Town, we waited in excitement as we met our host families for the first time. We presented our hosts with a bouquet of orchids One by one, our hosts picked us up and drove us back to their homes. We were all grateful for the warm hospitality that our hosts gave us which made us feel at home and like part of their family.
Most of our hosts knew how to speak simple English, so the communication barrier was minimised. I felt relieved whenever I was able to get my message across to my host family. During our home stay, many of us had traditional Japanese meals, experienced Japanese's culture and our hosts even brought us to places of interest such as Obi Castle. On the last night of the home stay, we exchanged gifts that we brought from Singapore to our hosts. I believed that all of our hosts loved our souvenirs from Singapore as much as we loved their gifts.
Archery is one of the common sports we played in Kitago. My host dad, Suzuki-san, taught my friends and me the fundamentals to the sport. Wherever there was an archery shooting range, we would take the opportunity to shoot some arrows. It was really fun and I'm sure all of us will continue perfecting our skills and surprise our hosts when we go back to Kitago in the future.
The following days were filled with fun and surprises as we visited the schools in Kitago. Mr. Mataki Hideto, the Principal of Kitago Junior High School, gave us a tour around the school and gave an interesting insight of Japan's history. We also took a trip to Ebino Highlands where we discovered the scenic nature of Japan. We also made Mochi with Japanese children which were an incredible experience for us. Mochi is a traditional delicacy that Japanese eat during the New Year.
The Sayonara party turned out to be an astounding and unforgettable event. There was a sumptuous spread of food and we were grateful that we could spend the evening with our host families. After the dinner, we put up a dance performance for our host families. Dressed in our colourful and stylish clothes, we danced to the song “That Thing You Do” and turned it into a retro night. After the dance, we put up a slide show featuring pictures of our enjoyable time in with our hosts Kitago. It was a heart-warming moment as we shared our experiences with everyone. The night came to an end with tears filling up in our hosts' eyes and ours. It was definitely difficult to leave our hosts after spending such a great time with them over the weekend and developing a strong relationship with them. As we bided farewell to the place that was home to us and people we called family, it was sure that Kitago had left a special place in our hearts and priceless memories that we will treasure forever.
Till the next time we meet.... Sayonara Sweet Kitago!