Sunday, 27 March 2011

Are we suitable evacuee homestay "parents"?
We've applied. Now we wait to see if we and our offer are acceptable.

Strange feeling.
Like trying to be an adoptive parent I guess.
Will the adoption agency turn us down because we are too old/the wrong ethnicity/sexuality?
Who will we "get" for a maximum of 3 months?
A young pregnant woman whose home is near a leaking nuclear power plant?
A mother and an over 10-year-old child whose house is earthquake/tsunami destroyed?
That's the kind of evacuee we've said we think our offer is suitable for. I can't have a young child in my English classroom with all the touchable/breakable things around.
But an adult and an older child. Yes. Absolutely.
We can put our spare microwave in the kitchen, I have extra towels and bowls and an old TV.

I worry that the whole "English classroom use times 3 days a week - foreigner host" thing may push our offer down the list of offers that I hope are flooding into the citizen's group that are organizing this.
But the accommodation is VERY well located and ideal for someone to live in privacy.
I only use it as a classroom 3 days a week. I can rearrange class times to free it up as a home.
I so hope we can help someone.

Yujiro filled in the application form and we faxed it back to them yesterday.
Now we wait.

What will happen? Will there be a meeting of homestay hosts? Will someone come and check our accommodation with a clipboard? Will we be interviewed? Is my Japanese level ok? Will we eventually all go to a hall somewhere in Sapporo and be matched up with a stranger? HOW will this work in Japan, where the lives of strangers hardly ever interact.

My mother and her brother were evacuees in wartime Britain. As London children they were sent to live with families in the countryside, sent off at the station with their names and ages written on labels round their necks.
What does it feel like to BE an evacuee? Going to live with a stranger? Going to be indebted to a stranger? Not knowing when your own normal life will ever start again? I'm trying to imagine.

*  Last night we had a farewell dinner with probably our last Couch Surfers. The young Czech ski instructors, who have finished their Hokkaido visit and are heading south - by ferry to avoid disaster zone and Tokyo.
We last met them March 8th. Had dinner with them in a local restaurant. That was before.
After March 11th Japan changed.
Now we had dinner and talked of power cuts, radiation, must be odd to be travelling in a country while a national disaster happens.

Couch Surfing has introduced us to so many interesting people, many of whom have emailed me recently to ask: Are you ok?  We have welcomed young people travelling the world for an experience. Now I hope my little classroom can be a place to stay for a very different kind of person. Someone who needs a home.

Okaasan did her usual Vampire Excursion: waiting till daylight has gone to venture forth into the world and suck supplies from a local supermarket.
Yesterday was a cold, but sunny day. Just a hint of spring.
Okaasan stayed home all day in her pajamas, being fed lunch and watching TV. Letting that nice day escape.
From her window she can see sunshine and people walking in the street, but she doesn't feel the interest to go out.
Just after 6 pm, as the light is fading and then temperature is dropping. She got up off the carpet, put on clothes and announced she was heading out into the world.
Why oh why oh why????

We were just thinking about what kind of dinner to leave her while we went out. So in a way we were pleased.
Yujiro gave her money and suggested she ate out or bought something herself. He apologized to Okaasan. But she wasn't too bothered.
We'd already decided that dinner with a young foreign couple who don't speak much Japanese probably wasn't her scene. About once a week we think she is ok to be left at home with something on the table or cooker. Or with the money to go out for dinner.

When we came home at 9.30 pm she was already home and asleep.
In the entrance of her room was a supermarket box, with random bits of food (a rice ball, a fried piece of pumpkin, a pot of pickled seaweed, a can of sweet sake). The shopping receipt was timed at 7.50 pm.
So we don't know if she ate in a restaurant or not. Or just shopped, came home and fell asleep. And ate nothing.


I don't like living with my partner's mother. But I do know that what we are doing is right. Okaasan can't look after herself.


  1. They'd be crazy not to accept you. You'll get a mother who accepts the 'foreigner' offer so her child gets three months of free English.

    I can't imagine what living with okaasan must be like. I'm amazed she still gets out on her own.

    Goodluck with your application anyway. Hope you get to host someone in need. So many people.


  2. Could you send me details of who to apply to? We are considering it.... Thanks.

  3. Wow, good luck with the application.