The usual schedule for the exchange trip is to check out of our hotel after the race, and then have a homestay with a Japanese family until departure. My homestay was with the Yanagida family: Shigeyuki and Emiko. Shige and Emiko visited Orlando in December 2007 for the OUC half marathon, so I had met them before.
Like many densely populated urban areas, most people live in condos. Shige and Emiko's home was in a building near the subway stop (very convenient!) on the 17th floor. The building had an open-air central corridor with a trash room and elevator access, with 6 or 7 units on each floor.
Their home was immaculate, I think they both cleaned extensively prior to my arrival. The front door opened onto a small atrium with a closet, where visitors leave their shoes and swap for slippers. The kitchen, dining room, and living room were behind a door, the sink and bathroom were behind another door, and the hallway led to three bedrooms and a small room with the toilet. I had heard all sorts of stories about tiny living spaces in Tokyo - this home was larger than I expected, and on par with condos I've seen in other metropolitan areas.
Their view was amazing! It is a hazy day, but along the right edge of the picture, at the horizon, is Mt. Fuji.
The next morning, Emiko fixed me a traditional Japanese breakfast.
(Check out the image on flickr - I used the "add note" feature annotate items). Breakfast consisted of small portions of several foods: natto (fermented soy beans), fish, salad, spinach and eggs, carrots and noodles. The presentation made it look like artwork!
I can't post about a trip to Japan without mentioning the Japanese bath. The bathroom, even in the hotel, had a combined shower/tub room, except instead of the shower being in the tub, it was by the side. Also, the entire room was for bathing, so no shower curtain. By the shower head, which had a few fixed positions (low, medium, high), was a pail and stool to sit on. The idea was to soap and shower, sitting on the stool, rinse off, and then get in the bathtub for a relaxing post-shower soak. The tub had a lid over it, and was kept filled with hot (42 degrees Celsius) water. It is a nice way to wind down at the end of the day!