Memories of Japan
Welcome and Goodbye parties
Written by Dylan Pritchard
During our stay in Japan, we stayed in a small town called Murayama. There, we were greeted and welcomed by our host families into their homes, showed around the city, and treated like old friends and family. These people were kind and courteous enough to throw us two parties; one to welcome us, and one to bid us goodbye. At each one, there was great entertainment seen and preformed.
The welcoming party was not right when we arrived in Japan, because we were in Tokyo, and our home-stay families lived in Murayama. The first party happened about a week into the time we were there.
The welcoming party took place on a farm, which belonged to one of the home-stays. When we arrived, there were already some people there, some of the home-stays and parents, who were helping to prepare the barbeques and food. We jumped in and began to help, peeling potatoes and onions, washing the fruits, whatever we could do. When everyone else arrived, and the food was all prepared, the men began to put the barbeques together and light them. This was quite interesting, because the barbeques were tiny hibachis, and they practically lit them with flamethrowers.
When the hibachis were successfully and totally lit, we were able to take our own food and put it on the barbeques. There was so much- shish kabobs, shrimp, squid, so much more, and my favourite- ostrich. That had to be the most tender, flavourful meat I have ever tasted. I highly recommend it. After your food was cooked, you could just take it, grab a drink and grab a seat somewhere with your friends or someone new, and just talk.
At the end of the night, speeches were made by both parties (Our team leaders and their representatives), and after everyone had helped to clean up, we thanked our host and parted. Everyone left with the respective home-stay partners and parents.
Two home-stay partners, Manami and Ryuma, lighting up the hibachis at the Family Barbeque.
At the Sayonara party, the night before we left for the airport, was held at the hotel/day spa that we had stayed at, in a large party room. All of the youth ambassadors from Barrie had worn either a small gift or a kimono that their family had so graciously given them. We of course arrived first, because we had been back at the hotel for two or three days. The room was nicely decorated, with tables for everyone and a buffet of many different types of food for us. Once the families had come, we welcomed them and chatted for a while with the ones that could speak English. Everyone’s attention was then attracted to the stage, where Lou and Rick (our leaders) exchanged gifts and speeches with Sato-San, their home-stay partner and leader of the YEC, the Youth Exchange Committee of Murayama. We had given them a plaque with a picture of us with the two flags alongside a bridge, to represent togetherness between the sister cities Barrie and Murayama. We had received a painted plate with a scene of the Higashizawa Rose Garden, which was a great representation of the two city’s togetherness, as both of the cities’ flowers are the rose. Then, it was our turn to do a presentation.
The BYA went up on stage and did a spoken word version of Japan’s national anthem, and did the song version of O Canada. After this, everyone went up to the microphone and stated the part of our journey and stay with our home-stay families that we enjoyed the most, and presented our families with a great thank you, a hug and a small gift; an inuksuk statue and a Canadian flag.
After we had gone, there was a small thank you to us (Thank you seemed to be the phrase of the night), our home-stay partners went up holding the Canadian flags that we had given them and sang us a couple of songs, one in English and one in Japanese. Both of the songs were about travelling. Then they gave some small speeches for us and were very gracious in giving us all small letters to which we were to reply to, so that we may keep communication between us open.
When it came time for everyone to go home, there were many tears and goodbyes, emails exchanged, addresses given, hugs doled out graciously. It was a very sad moment, because it may have been the last time that we saw them. There is still communication going around though, which keeps us in touch until we return to visit. ☺♥
The whole gang: the Barrie Youth Ambassadors and our home-stay partners at the Sayonara party.