Kagoshima Homestay Report - Kotatsu Story
Contributed on 10 Feb, 2009

It is in Kagoshima that I’ve had my first opportunity of enjoying the warmth of a kotatsu. In the bitter cold of the mornings, the warmth when you sit on a kotatsu is the best feeling in the world – warm, and comfortable, it makes you not want to leave it! I think Kagoshima, and it’s people, are like the kotatsu, you definitely don’t want to leave the place!

When Amanda and I first arrived at Kagoshima, we wondered what our host family would be like, and what Kagoshima would be like. Most importantly, we wondered what kind of experiences would we have in this place.

Before we came to Kagoshima, the information we found on the Internet was about how it was a wonderful place; set against the backdrop of Sakurajima, with a gentle weather, it was famed for its excellent agricultural produce like the kurobuta, and hot springs. But nothing was said about the warm and friendly nature of its people. Our host families remained as names and numbers in an e-mail we received.

We were met by Uchiyama-san and Xinjuan-san at the airport, and they brought us to the prefectural government office to meet with the director and assistant director of International Affairs Division before heading out to the Atsuhime museum, and the Kagoshima Aquarium. During this time, we had a wonderful time together. Although my Japanese level was very low, everyone, from the director to our fellow Singaporean Xinjuan-san, was very patient with me, and I didn’t feel left out at all.

In the evening, when we finally met our host family, it was something that I felt was an especially 「偶然の出会い」, because Nori-chan also loved kimono, and her family also comprises of 3 daughters, and she also has a Labrador as well!

The precious few days that I had spent with Nori-chan and her family will always be treasured in my heart. They have been very good to me, hosting me for three days, bringing me around to Sakurajima, shopping in Tenmonkan, to the supermarket, to see mochi being handmade for the new year, and Ooshima Tsumugi being hand-woven and dyed in Amami no Sato. We shared a lot of delicious food together - Japanese-style breakfasts, Japanese-style MacDonald, shabu-shabu, freshly-made mochi and zenzai. It was truly an unforgettable experience. It was truly a blessing that I thank from the bottom of my heart.

It is my honour to say that I’ve fallen in love with Kagoshima’s lovely scenery, it’s wonderful history, and also, it’s wonderful people. The warmth of the people that I have not been able to fully experience, the many places that I could not visit in my short 4-day stay, the different wonders that Kagoshima has to offer – these are the things that will keep me coming back again to this place I have fallen in love with.