Today I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Okinawa for a week of teaching. After having spent a couple of weeks in Tokyo, I was excited for the change in culture, scenery, and daily life.
After touching down in Naha airport, I was welcomed to the (new) island by my host mom. I was looking forward to meeting my new host family, but wasn’t sure what to expect. Right away I was impressed by her English skills and we enjoyed a nice chat in the car about our love for Hawaii and my past travels in Japan. She told me about her daughter, Megumi, and I looked forward to helping her improve her English speaking confidence. (After so many weeks of public transportation and walking it was so weird to be in a car again. Being able to relax while heading towards a destination with a personal, powerful stream of air conditioning had never felt so good).
Later that evening I got to meet my host sister and dad. The entire family was so kind and embraced me with open arms. Our first expedition together was to a local convenient store to pick up some cheap water shoes (knock off crocs), and then it was off to the beach for my first look at Okinawan waters. The water was closed for swimming because of a typhoon warning, but it was still fun to feel the sand in my toes and gaze into the beautiful blue waves.
After the beach, we headed to conveyor belt sushi! I was so hungry by the time we got seated, and enjoyed filling my stomach with lots of flamed salmon and hamachi sushi. I learned different ways to apply soy sauce and wasabi to nigiri pieces and also sampled an island special dessert: youzu sorbet! (an Okinawa citrus similar to a lime). We left the restaurant stuffed to the brim and content.
Although I was a little nervous with meeting a new family, I was immediately put to ease with their kindness. The generosity of Japanese hospitality will never cease to impress me, and is something that I hope to someday return to another when I get older.