I am so happy that I made it through and met the promise. Since I was still in Rwanda, I told Nozomu, Mutsumi and Yuki that I would visit them in Kansai. I was so overjoyed to meet them. Despite traveling 18 hours two ways by bus, I did not feel tired. I was excited because my friends have a special and unique connection that had been pushing me to visit them. Mutsumi was my classmate for several classes and I had a chance to be in the same group at PIASS in Rwanda. Yuki was living next to my room, we played basketball often together, we shared many discussions, he is talkative Japanese and an active listener. Nozomu was my classmate for some classes as well, in particular, he was my roommate for three months in Rwanda.
At first, I expected to go with my two friends from Uganda and French that became unavailable at the latest. I still assumed ok to go by myself because my friends and their families were eager to welcome me. Indeed, it was an important time meeting Mutsumi & Yuki that have been full-time cooperative for successful crowdfunding that we organized together. I am talkative, but when I met them, I was quite a bit shy. When I met them, I honored their support during the fundraising. Shout out to Mutsumi and Yuki, I appreciate the unique friendship I have with you. I am hoping corona will ease both of you to be able to visit me in Tokyo. I can't wait to see you in Tokyo; I will be happy.
My visit started on March 12, 2021, when I left from Tokyo to Osaka. I arrived in Osaka on the morning of the 13th, Mutsumi picked me up and headed to the train station to meet Yuki. We met up just 30 min later, that was a good reunion. I still remember the first reunion. I felt secured and protected in the Kansai area.
We therefore headed to Kyoto and arrived around 10 a.m. morning. My first observation, the train was noisy in Osaka which makes it different from usual Tokyo. Then in Kyoto, I saw many tourists. I noticed many old and traditional looking houses. It is a traditional city. I assume it is a little maybe apparent to the Edo period. Edo is the period between 1603 and 1867. It is the period that Japan was experiencing rapid economic growth and peace. I did not take Japanese history, but obviously it is interesting. When we first went to the Kamogawa River, Yuki had taken a nice picture of Mutsumi and me. The second place was the Yasaka Shrine. I met up with many foreigners and Japanese. I had a chance to practice Shintoism. This time I was almost used to ritual and religious practice. But everywhere I go, I experience some differences.
The third was Fushimi Inari Shrine, this place seemed like a touristic place rather than a religious one. It is a mountainous place which is very attractive. I loved and enjoyed taking many pictures. It was lively and crowded by many international people. At night I stayed with Yuki's family. The lovely parents of Yuki treated me nicely. I am a witness to how delicious sukiyaki is. Thank you, although the house was small, they have made it big for me and give me a full room for the night, with nice new food (sukiyaki) and drinks. I had a chance to sleep in traditional Japanese bedding. I loved it because it was very comfortable.
Next day, March 14, in the morning, I had a nice breakfast with Yuki's family. Yuki's father gave us a car ride to a nearby train station. I said bye to the mother and she gave me a wonderful gift from South Korea. They are a happy family; I learn a bit about South Korea because the mother of Yuki is Korean. Shortly, we met Mutsumi waiting for us in Dotonbori, we then moved to different wonderful places and enjoyed the cool weather, foods and various sightseeing of Osaka. In Osaka, our visit ended around 1 p.m. Thereafter, we had to go to the home of Mutsumi to meet and stay one night with her family. Waoooo., as we got off the train, I saw another big sea. Japan has abundant sea. Burundi and Rwanda are landlocked, I saw a sea for the first time in Japan. Mutsumi's father shortly arrives and rides us home. For almost 20 min we arrived home. The family was prepared for me. I loved the hospitality. Everyone was welcoming to me; I became a friend to the little sister of Mutsumi. She is kind, I miss her. She struggles to talk to me in English as I was struggling to talk to her in Nihongo. I think I might study more Japanese maybe in the near future. Whenever I will have the chance to come to Japan, I will visit them again.
They first introduced me to the grandmother of Mutsumi, who lives nearby, just 5 minutes away by walk. She was happy to meet an African. I was so happy too. Spending the night in the house I experience something unique. They have to share one big room as a family, and then they give me another room for myself. It impressed me, this one night was full of kindness, hospitality and love. Actually, in many Japanese homes, they have artificial onsen in the house. I was afraid to use it. The water was a bit hot for me at the start. Since my childhood, I have been bathing cold water. Even during winter, I just need a little warm water. I don't need very hot water. For me, I assume that Japanese people use very hot water in their bathroom. The internal artificial onsen was very relaxing. With my first experience, I loved it. The father of Mutsumi wanted me to use it and experience it. If he could not have insisted, I could not have used it, because the previous night I was shy to use it at Yuki's family. When I get another chance to visit a Japanese home, I guess I will delay other people to take baths. With artificial onsen inside, I guess I will use maybe 30 minutes. Thank you to Mutsumi's family for preparing Okonomiyaki for me. It is a good and delicious food of Kansai. I will miss these memories.
For march 15, I woke up for a delicious breakfast including a porridge of rice (Okayu). Then, Mutsumi's mother gave us a ride to the sea ferry port (Kansai International Airport). I was excited to take a boat to Kobe. Actually, it was my first time travelling in the water. I was nervous a bit in the boat but the ride was very comfortable. I was eager to meet Nozomu. We meet at the train station and head to Kobe Oji zoo. We spend much more time than expected. I wanted to meet any single animal here. We have many touristic places in Africa, but I have never visited any. Therefore, spending more time was a good opportunity at least to see many animals. Although it was an artificial zoo, it still gives me a good memory. I have enjoyed seeing various animals here such as lion, zebra, giraffe, panda, elephant and sea fish. I felt I needed to visit some touristic places in Africa. We have many animals that live in natural forests. The experience would be more enjoyable.
Thereafter, we went to a sake brewery nearby. I learn how sake is produced using rice. They use quite a long time and careful procedures to make sake. There is a difference in traditional beers between Japan and Rwanda. The raw material is sorghum and banana in Rwanda and Burundi while it is rice in Japan. The products are good on both sides, but Rwandan traditions are stronger than Japanese ones. Both Mutsumi and Nozomu study in Kobe. They have made me explore the nicest and new young-looking city of Kobe. I love its very big ferry port, food, and various places for tourists. Late in the night at 8:45 p.m., I took a bus back from Kobe to Tokyo. I travelled the whole night and arrived at 5:45 a.m. the next day on the 16th. I love the bus system. It is very organized. After each 3 hours, they have a branch where you get off to buy food, drinks and use the toilet. This transportation system is awesome, I wished Rwanda also to improve well to be more organized.
I miss Kansai, I hope when opportunities arise for me to come back to Japan, I will visit the Kansai area. However, I will first be looking forward to visiting Hokkaido, Okinawa, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Some of my friends had travelled there and had good experiences.