I had two more homestays this last week. My first was with a family of four that had two daughters, one junior high-aged and one high school-aged. They were a great host family, the mom and dad both speaking English and very generous. They took me to an onsen (a Japanese hot spring) and to their favorite pizza restaurant. They gave me 2 pairs of chopsticks and chopstick holders. They also had a large PV system on their house, so it was fun talking to them about their system.
The homestay father owns a steel fabrication plant that primarily builds pieces for bridges, and he gave me a tour. I thought it was very interesting; I’ve never seen such a plant before. I saw the steel sheets, welding, cutting, and some finished products. He also took me to a hot dip galvanizing plant. This was amazing! It was HUGE. No pictures were allowed there, but it was amazing to see a huge bridge support hanging by cranes, dipped into water, then alcohol, then hydrochloric acid, then through a drier, then into a zinc, nickel, and aluminum mixture, then another dryer. Then it’s galvanized and shiny silver!
My third homestay was in the house of a couple who own a local sweet shop, selling candies and pastries, in the town of Ichinoseki. They didn’t speak English, but their grown daughter did. She is a doctor. This was interesting to find out because it seems like we have not met many women who work, and the ones that do seem to be accountants or secretaries. Anyway, the couple owns TEN sweet shops. I visited two of their shops and also a factory in just a couple of days. The factory was so much fun! I told them that it was fate that I was paired with them, a couple who owns candy shops! They were great and gracious host, loading us up (Michelle was in this homestay with me) with candies for the whole team and also candies to take home for Jeff.
Today we went and did a boat tour on a small river through the ‘Japanese Grand Canyon’. For once the sun blessed us with its presence and the day and float down the river were beautiful. The boat guide pushes the boat along by using a long stick and pushing off the bottom of the river; I even gave it a try!