During the Connecticut College TRIP to Japan, funded by Connecticut College and the Freeman Foundation, we had the great fortune to be able to stay in Ayase City for several days. The people of Ayase City were gracious enough to open their homes and hearts to us and give us a new, greater understanding of Japan. In the spirit of continued cultural exchange, we humbly offer the observations and insights we made during our visit.

The people of Ayase were incredibly welcoming and gracious. We were treated like family, and for the first time in Japan, we didn't feel like tourists, but friends stopping in for a visit.

"Getting to meet my homestay parents, their two daughters, and even some of their friends, taught me about the importance of those friends and family in Japan. It was like I could feel the connections between everyone." - Jason Feldman, '05

"I had such a great time with my homestay family in Ayase City; it was both enriching and fun. I enjoyed playing video games and Uno, going shopping, and eating fabulous food with them!" - Alissa Minot, '07

Some of the wonderful families that welcomed us into their homes

We had the chance to eat a huge variety of Japanese cooking, much different from that provided at Japanese restaurants in America. Ranging from "Deep-Fried Oysters" (Kakifurai), to Sakura Mochi to Onigiri, and more.

"I had the opportunity to make Onigiri by myself, and I was amazed at how easy it was. They were delicious." - Daniel De Sousa, '07

"I was surprised by a 'traditional' Japanese breakfast. It included everything from leftover tempura from the night before to hot dogs!" - Alissa Minot, '07

Alissa Minot '07 got a chance to try out kaitenzushi for the first time

We first visited the Arima High School English Speaking Society, and had a chance to talk face-to-face with Japanese high school students in both English and Japanese. Both Japanese and Americans had shared misconceptions about each other's countries.

Everyone was excited to finally visit a Japanese high school

"I've never even seen a gun, and yet they thought that guns were commonplace in the home." - Ryan Kelley, '07

"It was good that we got a chance to talk to students close to our own age, because for the entire trips we had been speaking only to adults." - Michele Lefkowitz, '07

Japanese architecture and terrain are perfectly entwined. With both high-rises and gardens, huge avenues and small back streets, we were treated to a constantly changing and always interesting landscape.

"The close connection between urban landscapes and farmlands was seamless. Despite the development, it was breathtaking to see how closely the citizens of Ayase City live in and amongst nature." - Jason Carey, '07

"The sight of Mount Fuji cutting through the morning air is an image I'll never forget." - Jamie Ellett, '07

Some views of lovely Ayase City

On the second day of the Homestay visit, we were invited as a class to the Nakamura Cultural Center. We listened to the traditional music of the shamisen, taiko, and shakuhachi; practiced the ancient art of brush calligraphy; learned the Japanese tea ceremony under the able guidance of Tea Master Soori; and played several rounds of the strategy game Go.

We got to meet both a Go master and a master of Japanese tea ceremory

"The musical performance was amazing! It was refreshing to hear something so very different from Western music. And I learned that I've developed a taste for green tea!" - Daniel De Sousa, '07

"The Cultural Center at Ayase City was a really neat and educational experience that stood out during our trip to Japan. We had the chance to eat authentic, delicious Japanese cuisine at lunch, listen to the samisen musicians, try our hand at calligraphy, play go, and participate in a tea ceremony. But what I found most memorable was the incredibly sweet and gracious people we met during our day there." - Alissa Minot, '07

Michele Lefkowitz '07 tries out a shamisen for the first time

Click Here To View A Beautiful Cultural Center Performance

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