Weill in Japan Jason Weill Web Productions
home day by day photos


For the six and a half weeks that I was in Japan, I lived with the Hirano family in Suginami-ku. Their small but comfortable house has been home to my two parents, their four children (one of whom was studying in America, and another of whom had moved to Kyoto for work), a golden retriever, a housecat, a bantam, and a turtle.

Remote controls aren't just for TVs in Japan.  This one controlled the air conditioner in my room. This is a traditional Japanese bathroom, made more compact than usual.  That white cover unrolls to reveal a traditional Japanese bath or ofuro, but that's only for soaking: I still had to wash myself using the shower as normal. This remote control governs the shower and bath water temperature. This is Cheri, the Hiranos' cat. The downstairs toilet is one of those modern "washlets" with a remote control for its many functions.  I didn't try any of them. My room, which would normally be occupied by the daughter Rie when she's not studying in America. The tatami room with rice paper doors.  Note the small cutout in one door to allow the cat to pass through. More curios and pillows in the tatami room. The entertainment center in the tatami room and the fan -- important, since the tatami room is one of the only rooms in the house which is not air-conditioned. My host family's curio cabinet. Me in my room. The view from my window out onto the veranda. The Disney calendar, one of many Disney-themed objects in my homestay family's house. A view down from the veranda onto street level. A view down from the veranda onto street level. The front of the house, where the family stores three modes of transportation: a bike, a motor scooter, and the giant Nissan Elgrand minivan. The family's bantam, who didn't do much in its little cage. Our host family's turtle, who showed even less activity than the bantam. My host family parents Yoshiyuki and Hideko, the night before I left Japan. Umbrellas are considered community property in Japan: families provide them for guests inconvenienced by rain.  Even at school, people were allowed to bring communal umbrellas from building to building, as long as they left them on campus. My bed, which was large enough to be comfortable for me.  Here it sits in a state of unmade-ness. My desk, where I put my laptop that contains my pictures. All houses have a nameplate outside.  This one says "Hirano Yoshiyuki," my host father's name. Nene, our family's golden retriever, forever pestered me while I was trying to walk around, eat dinner, go up or down stairs, or do most anything else. Nori, my family's second-oldest son, came to visit for a few days from Kyoto. My older host-brother Toshi saving himself a few thousand yen by having his girlfriend cut his hair.  Instinctively, his girlfriend flashed the V-for-victory sign as I snapped this not-so-candid pose. This wicker basket contains umeboshi, a pickled plum that has historically been linked with claims of health benefits.  These little purple lumps are perhaps the saltiest things I've ever eaten, but maybe they're an acquired taste. An even larger view of umeboshi.  I had this as my desktop background for a while.  One person in a public computer lab back in the U.S. remarked that they looked like, and I'm directly quoting, "aborted fetuses." A candid shot of Yoshiyuki Hirano, my 60-year-old host father.  He is the man who offered me enough beer in Japan to get me to start drinking the stuff semi-regularly in the U.S.  Believe it or not, I had lasted three years in college before drinking one beer.