A week ago I was introduced to the lovely Kosekis; my host family for my time here in Tokyo.
The Kosekis live in Fuchu, a suburb about an hour out of downtown Tokyo (by transit). It’s a good neighbourhood with a residential section and a main shopping strip. I’ve yet to do a proper walk around, but I think there are some cool shops, shrines and other things to discover.
Their house is really modern and surrounded by Ms. Koseki’s amazing garden. She is always out in the garden taking care of all her plants. And I found out the building across from us is actually their garage and more garden space. They have their own jungle!
The inside of the house is also quite modern – they have an elevator (for a 3 storey house…)! The set up is quite different from houses I’m used to: the first floor is a guest room (aka my room for the next 3 weeks), the second floor is for the family bedrooms and the third floor is the kitchen/living room.
I sleep in a traditional tatami straw floor room, which was quite a shock when I first walked in. It still kind of feels like I’m living in a touristy Japanese restaurant or something! But the most shocking bit was realizing I wouldn’t be sleeping on a real bed, or even a mattress for that matter. Instead, I roll out two comforter blankets and sleep on top of those. My back is still getting used to it.
I have the sweetest host mom in Mrs. Koseki. She cooks all the meals, which are all amazing, and has been showing me around whenever she can. She greets me after school and indulges me in slow English conversations since my Japanese is nowhere near up to par. She always checks on me and never lets me help with anything. And, she always gets very excited whenever I use a Japanese phrase correctly – you should see her when I nail my “good mornings” and “thank you for dinners.”
Mr. Koseki is a retired drug store owner. He seems to spend most of his time in front of the TV, but, let’s be honest, that’s pretty much my life and I’m nowhere close to retirement. And he has the best laugh! He is extremely good-natured and cracks up about everything. He also seems to think my grasp of Japanese is much better than it is as he is always trying to explain things to me without a word of English. I’ve mastered the smile and nod with appropriate pauses and the occasional laugh.
Yuko, 16, is my host sister. She’s very sweet and is working on her confidence with English. However, Yuko is the busiest 16 year old I’ve ever met! She is always at school and then after school she has all of these activities or even more school! In the week that I’ve been here, I think we’ve had two meals together. And today (Saturday), she left the house by 7:30am, made a brief appearance around 7:30pm and then finally returned after more school by 10:00pm.
Lastly, there’s Mamei, my host family’s fat black cat. She has giant yellow eyes and is nimble as anything jumping around the place. Her favourite spots are on top of the piano, directly in front of the television or meowing near her empty food bowl. Friendly would be a stretch, but Mamei is definitely a character!