June 2nd 1998, a Tuesday

The first day of our homestay, Tuesday, the class met at a commercial high school, Hotaka High School. I, in my Dockers and my polo, found out that it was field day today. DOH! I ended up playing softball and "kickbase" all day in my nice clothes.

School starts with a stretching ritual which I believe we disturbed. The reaction to our simple presence was unbelievable. Another pleasant surprise, the school was two thirds female!! Even though some were my age or older, it seemed they were only 10 or 11 years old. Again, everyone was friendly, and let us Americans play any game, whenever we wanted.

The girls could not get enough of Larry, and I am sure it was the same the other way around. Larry and I played "Kickbase", or kickball. Even when we had bad kicks or when we dropped the ball, the fellow members said, "Naisu!" or "nice" sincerely. They do not see many foreigners there, I guess.

Meanwhile, Mr. C. brought his softball team to victory over the entire school with an exciting last game. I have to document the home run Sensei hit, which he smashed far beyond the reach of any of the outfielders. Kudos to you, Mr. C!

Mrs. Sugiyama picked me up at 4:00 and we traveled home. We talked of life in America - school, college, girlfriends. We came home and ate dinner, which tonight was fried rice and shamishami. Water, on a portable gas stove, was boiling, and beef or pork was put in as we ate. Since they were thin slices, they cooked quickly. Although everything was so tasty (even an eggplant I had) I could not shove down enough to clean my plate. In Japan, for example, when people interact with others, they act as though they are not hungry or tired, when in all truth, they are starving and dead tired. This part of the Japanese culture, Endo Suru, is shunned in Sugiyama's house. Even knowing so, I think they think I do not eat enough, though I have truly stuffed myself.

That night I stayed up late learning of Manga [comic books] from Gaku, the son, and doing several origami figures. In America, comic books are about fifteen pages, and they are monthly. In Japan the Manga is one inch thick and weekly! Over 6 million comic books are sold weekly in Japan. I was given one book by Gaku, but I will also get other comics later in the trip for souvenirs.