Every time I come to Japan I make a point to visit Ota, Gunma.

It's about an hour or two (depending on how cheap you want to be with catching the express) from Tokyo and a family lives there that I like very much. I met them in 2010 when I was in high school and since then, dozens of emails and letters exchanged and Pocky care packages received, I visit them yearly.

'Staying with them, I get to see what the inside of Japanese family life looks like. This family never fails to be generous, caring and accommodating towards me and for that I am eternally grateful. Other than that, they are also really great and funny people and I always leave their home with such a full heart knowing I will be returning before too long. I also leave with a few extra kgs as they are constantly feeding me awesome food.

Living in the family home is Okaasan (mum), Otoosan (dad), Miku and Ojiichan (gramps- pictured above). Mei, my older Japanese sister, lives in another town closer to her university yet always comes and visits me when I'm in Ota.

This family LOVES calendars. I'm not sure why.

In the toilet there are three alone!

This family LOVES Totoro. 

One day, together with Okaasan and Otoosan, I visited Miku at her part time job! This day she was working from 9am-9pm. Very Japanese I think.
One of the many things we did together, was go to the movies! I really couldn't understand a lot of what was going on but it was a nice experience none the less. Just outside the theatre they had blankets you could take in with you so you don't get cold. I feel like if we had them in Australia people would just steal them or soil them with candy (this is why we can't have nice things).

This next day was an especially memorable one, because of the sheer amount of activities we enjoyed. After studying in the library at Miku's university while she sat a test, I met up with her and her friends and we went to lunch and ate omurice (amazing). AFTER, we picked up more friends and drove to a nearby fairground type thing:

It was really old and wonderful and SO CHEAP. I can't believe how little things cost here. 

Afterwards, we went to karaoke, then we went to a sushi place, then we went to do puri kura (Japanese photo booth), then we played arcade games and air hockey! Wow! 

On one of my last nights staying with the Kawato family we went to a yaki niku restaurant and ate ourselves silly. This night, I was thanking Otoosan (dad) for the beautiful necklace I had been gifted from the family earlier in the day for my 21st birthday. He told me that receiving jewellery on your 20th birthday is tradition in Japan but seeing as though they missed it, the necklace is a present for both birthdays. Then, he told me that now, he has three daughters.
My real dad is absent in my life so this was a really special moment for me.

Japanese people can be very accommodating, but this family are really something special, even in a place like Japan. If I can improve my Japanese enough to thank them properly and express how I actually feel about these wonderful, kind people, my year in Japan will not be in vain. I can't wait to see them again in December to celebrate the New Year together with them!!