On June 6th, my friend Michele and I got up bright and early to help a friend out at the Cambridge River Festival, where she would be selling her own artwork and vintage silk kimono (in Japanese, you don’t add any equivalent to an “s” to make things plural!), as well as the makings of her fellow creatives back in Japan.
This is Aiko– a wonderful artist and new friend ( You can check out her website here! ).
She and her husband were at the festival while her mother-in-law watched their little boy for the day. She is primarily a painter, specializing in cheery illustrations.
Our friends Brooke (pictured above) and Bing stopped by to check out the festival as well- it was a really fun day, despite being somewhat chilly for June. Aiko dressed Michele and I up in kimono and obi, and we actually drew in a good number of customers, several of which went home with kimono of their own!
As a thank you for helping, Aiko offered Michele and I a free gift for the day. I picked out a necklace of Mount Fuji, and slipped the money for it to her husband while she wasn’t looking. She’s a hard worker, and gives the profits of each product to the artisans that made them.
It was definitely a purchase I would never regret.
I believe that I spoke a bit about Burano in an earlier post, but it’s just such a crazy place that I had to add more.
I mean, look at how well Derrick could blend into the outer wall of one of the houses?
Yes, HOUSES. This wasn’t just a marketing ploy, used on the facades of small island shops; it was employed in residential areas as well.
Hanging clothes and other linens on lines outside was also a huge thing in Italy. It really reminded me of being back in Japan, where we would have a clothes line outside in most places, like on the little back porch of our tenth-story apartment in Fukuoka-shi..
Even the buildings that are seemingly abandoned are still of this unique aesthetic.
Isola di Burano is such a charming little place, so much so that it makes me think well why don’t Americans take care of their buildings like this? Even Italy in general (okay, I only stayed in Rome and Venice, but..) keeps buildings that are hundreds of years old intact, preserved/renovated, and functioning.
And then there are the ones that seem to have been dragged out from inside of a cartoon.
But they’re still interesting.
GlobaLinks Learning Abroad asked me to complete a survey about my study abroad experience. Once of the questions was to tell your most memorable experience. This, in short, is one of mine:
My first day in Fukuoka all of the students met up with their host families for the first time and were sent home to spend the day with them. Another student, who spoke no Japanese, was going to be living with my host father’s brother, so she came home with us until her host father got out of work, When we got to my host father’s house I got to meet the rest of my family- three little girls and my host mother. One of the girls was really shy and wouldn’t talk or do much when we (the foreign students) were around. After dinner my host father and I dropped the other student off to her host family. When we got back home I went to my room to change and unpack. While unpacking I left my door open, and my youngest sister came in and sat on my bed. I began to talk with her and one of her other sisters came in, hopped on the bed, and joined us. After a few minutes the oldest, and most shy of the three came in, sat on the bed, and when I talked to her she opened up and we all had a fun time. They taught me games, had me pick them up and flip them onto the bed, and played hide-and-seek with me until it was their bedtime. It was just amazing to have people, especially this child who wouldn’t even speak in front of foreigners (at first), accept me into their home and family in such a way. I had a wonderful time with my host family and still talk to them regularly- including talking about when I will come back!
My first encounter with a Japanese vending machine!
– (excuse the awful picture- I took it with my cell phone real quick while waiting for one of my flights in Tokyo)
They’re so much nicer than they are here in the US- for one, it’s not all soda and sugar filled junk. There are all sorts of teas and juices and vitamin/mineral waters. Then there are the specialty machines, like “Boss” coffee machines. Yes, you can get coffee out of a vending machine, and no, not just cold! There are plenty of warm beverage offerings.
Vending machines are also more popular in Japan, which is probably a big part of why they’re so nice/advanced there. You can find them not only in shopping areas or outside of busy stores, but everywhere- even standing pretty much on their own on the roadside.
We planted a rice paddy!
Haha- there was so much mud that it made a sucking noise when you took a step, it was great.
And it wasn’t just people from the program that brought me to Japan- we were with a group of kids from two (I think) schools. It was so much fun.
I am currently in the City of Omura, Nagasaki, and I’m having a really great time!
I’m staying with a host family- so I have a Mama, Papa, imouto (little sister), and otouto (little brother). They’re all really great(and quite young- I’m more like a younger sister than a daughter, which is fun!). My Mama, Kumi, is such a sweetheart, and she can speak some English, so if there’s a word or something I don’t catch she can explain it to me. Every night I help her cook, I go shopping with her, and do laundry, etc (I know some people just find those to be chores, but it’s enjoyable for me). She is always asking if there is something I would like to try or do, so my stay is full of adventures! Youichi (Papa) is super nice as well- and he works at Canon (aka the best camera-maker EVER). His english isn’t so good, (as in nonexistent), which is okay- we have been fine with communicating! I really appreciate everyone’s efforts. My imouto, Hiro, is super cute and sweet- she’s somewhere between 5 and 7 years old, I’m not sure- and she calls me “onee-chan” (big sister) （かわいいね！). She has been teaching me to make origami cranes (at which I am terrible), and likes to show me her favorite candies so I can try. My otouto, You-kun (Youdou) is 13 months old, and so precious. Sometimes he just wants to be held, and so if I’m there he’ll hold his arms out to me. And he is always hungry!
Last night Kumi took Hiro and I to see ホタル (fireflies). It was so pretty! And we went with another family that is hosting my friend Maki. While we were there, my friend Alex was there with his host family too! So I got to meet them. (– I hope he’s not having too much trouble communicating- he doesn’t speak a lick of Japanese).
We are going to perform for our families, so we have been learning a dance routine- it’s a medley of Japanese songs. We will dance to a little kids show’s song, Anpanman Taiso, so all of the kids can sing along, as well as an old fishing dance, and contemporary music such as Exile and AKB48. It’s really fun to be learning- I love dancing! It’s tiring when you dance for five hours a day though!
Today (since here it is now 6am) we will be meeting the Mayor and then planting rice in the paddies and going to a school to play with the children. I’ve been told the fields will be dirty work- usually requiring you to throw out your clothes after! I hope I don’t have to, for I only have a few articles of clothing (I packed light so I could buy gifts for back home)!
Well, I should try and get a half hour more sleep- my jet lag hits me randomly during the day.