An American at TaiyoBukujo

Hello all,
初めまして。Alec Weltzienと申します。あまり日本語が上手じゃないし、英語のほうが早いし、英語で書きます。すみません。I’m 25, and I hail from the great states of Montana and Virginia in the United States of America. For reference, Montana itself is about 3,000 square kilometers larger than Japan, but has only about one million inhabitants. It’s “high, wide and handsome,” as wiser minds have put it, and something of that quality is present in Hokkaido as well (perhaps not so high).
So, why I am in Hokkaido at TaiyoBokujo, enjoying the excellent hospitality and eternal patience of Mr. Kataoka Katsunori? I came to study Japanese and live with Japanese. Since the fourth year of college, it’s been my dream to attain a modicum of fluency in the language. My girlfriend Lisa is also half-Japanese, so she has greatly encouraged me to continue. One day, I would like to enter the Foreign Service and live in Japan, in addition to possible doctoral work in the Japanese language.
The road to that point started at Taiyobokujo. Regarding Katsunori-san, I echo the others in emphasizing his kindness, generosity, and patience. Since coming here, he’s taken me out to lunch, to the Monbetsu Sea Ice Museum, to the Monbetsu Seal Center, and to local hot springs (probably my favorite stop so far). Katsunori-san goes out of his way to make sure his WWOOFERS are enjoying themselves, even if he has visited the same place countless times.
Farm life keeps a regular tempo. For many of us (like myself) who have worked desk jobs, it’s a blessing to work without a computer and in the open air. In the last month, we’ve seen a calf born and a sick cow sold. The veterinarians visit regularly to check hoof and leg injuries and infections, as well as company employees who perform artificial insemination for Kataoka-san. At mealtimes and in the evenings, we practice Japanese and English, while showcasing the various dishes of our respective countries (so far, I’ve tried Cantonese, Taiwanese, and Japanese food). There’s usually some Japanese talk-show on the television that I don’t understand as well. I try to listen anyways and pick up a little as I go. By now, Kataoka-san is very proficient at making caramel, custard, ice cream, and jams. We’ve all had the opportunity to make these with him, as well as sample them. And the eggs! Now that spring is arriving, Kataoka-san’s flock lays at least 10 eggs a day. I’ve made quiche and frittatas and am busy searching the internet for new egg recipes.
Thanks to the spring weather, parts of Kataoka’s farm are becoming visible again. I will be staying until the end of May, so I am looking forward to leading the cows to pasture and some of the spring work. I’ll write another update as spring continues to settle in.

F-さん (いじわるい牛が、好きです)

My clothing is a little too small… ah, life in Japan.


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