During the long four day weekend that we had after international camp, I spent two of the days with my host family traveling to Yamanashi prefecture for a family vacation. It was supposed to be about a 2 hour ride and we were supposed to meet up with the other families at a certain spot by 7 so we left the house at 5 a.m. Usually these early days consists of me getting ready and then waiting for the signal to leave the house. That signal is both parents carrying one child each and saying “お待たせしました” which kind of translates to them apologizing for making me wait.
After sleeping on and off on the ride there we finally made it to the meeting place. My host parents went out to buy drinks and use the bathroom and I rested in the car with the other two children. This weekend I was going to be the biggest child, considering all the rest of them were between the ages of 4 and 8.
Once everyone was accounted for then we continued on and headed towards the Chateraise Ice Cream Factory. When you walk in you have to take off your shoes and put on the indoor slippers. Then you have to carry your shoes in a plastic bag. I thought this was a very “ah, I’m in Japan” moment.
Once we got there we breezed through the factory area since the kids wanted to rush ahead. At the end of the tour they have a viewing area where you can see the ice cream being made and they also have all sorts of their products available for sampling. I had an orange popsicle bar because I am pretty sure that I’m lactose intolerant. My host brother probably had 3-4 ice creams. 2 of those orange bars, one grape sherbet, and one ice cream cone.
Once the kids were cut off and couldn’t have anymore ice cream then we left to go head to a place where we were going to have a lunch BBQ. (Right after everyone just ate a bunch of ice cream xD)
The place that we went to was really cool because you can rent tables and grills and then you bring all of your own food and cooking utensils to grill. Unfortunately the weather was really bad so we BBQ’d in the freezing cold and rain, but it was delicious nonetheless. My host family and the other families there were really kind and never made me feel like an outsider (even though I personally felt like I was intruding on their vacation). Even with my famously bad cooking stills my host parents always make me help out with something. This time I was on the hot dog team. Basically just stuffing the hot dogs in the buns.
Besides hotdogs there was also grilled chicken, beef, corn, sweet potatoes, eggplant and other veggies, and yakisoba. It was really good especially since it came fresh off the grill.
After lunch was over everyone cleaned up and then we headed to a nearby facility that housed all sort of things. The kids were there to go swimming in the pool pictured above, but I really don’t like to swim so I decided to opt and and find somewhere to just vegetate and enjoy my kid-free peace.
Luckily there was a really good place to do that! It was called the “relaxation room.” It was actually just above the pool as you can kind of see. It was a dark room filled with reclinable chairs. When I first got there it was empty so I chose the seat furthest from the entrance, plugged in my earphones, and then tried to take a nap. It was pretty comfortable until I woke up to some old lady loudly snoring in the chair beside me. While I was sleeping the room filled out and it was no longer so relaxing.
After a few hours my host mom came with the daughter to come and retrieve me so that we could head out. The next stop was the hotel. I didn’t really know what to expect but it wasn’t something this fancy. I knew we would be staying in “cottages” and not hotels, but the dinner was going to be at the hotel’s restaurant. Since there was only 30 minutes until the dinner service opened, we just hung out in the lobby. There was a kids play area so the parents and the big child (a.k.a me) played a card game. It was really confusing because it contained math which I suck at to begin with and definitely couldn’t do in Japanese. Luckily, they switched to English for my benefit ❤
Once it was time we went over to the restaurant. It was really nice. Again I was surprised at how luxurious this place seemed.
The food looked good and tasted good. I tried to be smart and take a little bit of each so I knew what was good and then I could go back for seconds if I found something I really liked, which I did. The rice thingy in the bottom center and the hamburger/meatloaf thing was so good. I actually ended up clearing my entire plate too which both felt good and bad at the same time. I can’t believe I ate that much.
After dinner and dessert, everyone was happy and full and ready to head to the cottage. The three vans set off for “Hokkaido” which is the name of the one we would be staying in. It was super dark and they all were confused and lost so it was pretty funny. The roads were narrow in the true Japanese style and there was very little lighting because it was meant to be like a cottage in the forest, plus it was drizzling, so it all added up to a minor problem. But, eventually we found “Hokkaido” and all of the vans were able to park.
Once we moved everything and everyone inside the moms got the kids’ clothes ready to change into to go to the onsen, the kids watched TV, and the dads tried to start a fire in the stove heater. Eventually they got the fire started and the kids all changed into their pajamas. I wasn’t going to go to the onsen so I was planning on staying back to use the shower in the room. They all left and then I took my shower and then plugged myself into the wall to charge. Once the gang returned we played some games and then it was bed time for the kids. I think the adults thought that I would stay up and play card games with them but I was really tired so I called myself a kid and also went to bed. They all ended up staying up until past 2:30 a.m.
Originally I was going to put both days in one post, but this one got longer than I expected so I am going to split them up. My descriptions were pretty boring so even if you only looked at the pictures that’s fine too.
Thanks for reading!