Mar. 14, 2016
Interview with the guests&hosts | Geibi-kei’s lodge
This article is a guest interview with Alex & Cesar of Hanzawa, a friend who has experienced a private residence together, and an interview with the accommodation host.
Please also take a look at the experience report “Experiences at old Japanese-style houses and one of 100 Landscapes of Japan, Geibi gorge“!
My name is Alex. I’m 29 years old and I’m french. I have lived in Japan for almost a year now, and I’m still learning japanese. I’m a french teacher and I like to travel all around the world to teach my language and my culture. But I also like to share my experience as a globetrotter.
Hi! My name is Cesar and I am from the US and I am currently working in Japan while also traveling.
Interview with the guests
—1.How was the experience to stay with Japanese family?
Alex：It wasn’t my first experience in a typical family. And, as usual, it was truly an amazing experience. Oji-san and Oba-chan were so nice. They welcomed us in their house like we were family. Oji-chan shared with us his love for birds and peacocks. I also love birds so I trule enjoyed when he showed his beautiful peacocks.
Cesar：Staying with a Japanese family was really great. I did not know what to expect since I have never stayed in a traditional Japanese home with a family. The opportunity to interact and see a different part of Japan is something I have always looked forward.
I feel that Japanese people tend to stay connected to the countryside and embrace the culture it offers. Immediately after meeting the couple who was hosting me and my friends, I could feel how happy and energetic they were to see new people.
After introducing myself, I was surprised that it was okay to call them grandpa and grandma. It appears that no matter who comes into their l home, Japanese families treat you like family.
Both from the start remained me of menof my grandparents in how hard they tied to take care of us by feading us, sharing stories, showing us around the area, and keeping us comfortable.
They honestly had so much energy and I was still shocked the next day to find out that grandma still dances to a traditional Japanese style.
—2.Did you find any cultural difference?
Cesar：Of course I found some cultural differences but after a couple of years in Japan it was not a complete shock.
The top three for me were the home itself which was completely different from what I have seen. Never have I stayed in such a style that is common in older homes in Japan.
Second, taking a bath was something I did not expect in the countryside but it seems that no matter where you go in Japan, taking a hot bath is something that everyone finds extremely soothing. Finally, the sleeping arrangements were unique. I am familiar with futons and sleeping on the floor but having a vast amount of layers and futons made sleeping very comfortable and cozy.
Alex：The biggest difference I experienced was to eat dinner around 5pm. I wasn’t really hungry at that time and couldn’t eat anything. It was the same for breakfast. Usually I don’t eat breakfast like a lot of people in France. There was so much foods on the table that I felt so embarrassed. I ate the most I could, but even tat, it’s not a lot.
Also, a big difference with the west is the way you bath in Japan. I love Japanese bath. There is no O-Furo where I stay in Japan, that’s why I honored Ouji-chan and Oba-chan’s bathroom.
—3.How did you find countryside life there?
Cesar：It was hard to see much of the countryside life itself since it was winter and most people are taking care of other things or getting ready for spring. However, I noticed that people take care of themselves and stay active even when it’s winter.
The food is all locally grown and the people eat with the season. Also, many of their foods are preserved with methods that have their roots with old methods such as pickling or drying. The life style in this area can be rewarding but harsh at times. I definitely felt withdrawals from modern commodities.
One thing that reminded me of home was that people in the countryside are just like country folks back home and that is early to bed, early to rise.
Alex：It was really a peaceful place lost in the mountains and it reminded me my home in France. I live in the mountain and the landscape is almost the same. I felt a bit home. Far away from the screaming and the noise of the city.
—4.What do you think about their traditional food?
Alex：I love Japanese food. Unfortunately, I couldn’t eat that much because my stomach is as big as a bird’s stomach. I must say that I loved the soup Oba-chan prepared us, as well as the fish. It was really tasty.
Cesar：The food We were offered was incredible and I noticed that our host family used a lot of local items in their cooking. Grandma made sure to explain where every piece of food came from and feed us plenty full. Also, given that it is winter many of the vegetables were those capable of surviving in the cold and give energy such as potatoes, carrots, burdock, and other types of tubers. You can really see how the food you get in the big cities in Japan has its roots in the country side. Everything was very good with traditional flavors.
Interview with the hosts
—1.Why did you start hosting people？
It’s quite rare to live in a 200 years old house so we wanted people to be able to come to see it. Also, many foreigners who came to visit after the earthquake stayed at our house. Since there are several historic sites to see in the area and activities such as visiting gold mines to do, we thought that it would be nice to share our knowledge of the area with young people. That’s when the city told us about the concept of home staying.
—2.How do you feel about people staying at your house？
It’s exciting and fun to prepare everything for future guests. It’s nice to have people at our table. We always have a lot of fun.
—3.Do you become nervous when the guests come from abroad?
Everyone is so kind so we can try to talk with our gestures. Korean students stayed at our house the other day and it was very nice of them to cook for us. I hope a lot more foreigners to come and stay with us.