My name is Shaun Kelly. I'm an American exchange student studying in Japan. I'm a junior at KnoxCollege in Illinois, but my home state is Missouri. From September to August, I'm attending Waseda University in Tokyo and studying Japanese language and culture. For one month during my spring break, I came to Minakami to do a home stay and study tourism. I spent two weeks at both Hourakukan and Yushinkan, helping out with all sorts of jobs.
The staff at Yushinkan have been tremendously friendly and welcoming, and they've taught me a lot. Even though I don't speak fluent Japanese yet, thanks to their patient explanations, I got to have experience helping customers.
During my time at Yushinkan, I got the chance to try a lot of the dishes on the menu and relax at the hot springs. I'd definitely recommend this place to anyone coming to Minakami to sightsee. When it comes to food, the Kaminari-jyuu and the Baked Curry are my recommendations.
The most surprising thing for me as an American was working each day in my socks. Of course, in Japan, you can't wear shoes inside the house or in rooms with tatami flooring, but socks don't have the clean image in America that they do in Japan. In America, taking off your shoes when you got to work would be like wearing pajamas on the job instead of a suit, so it was a little hard to get used to.
I want to thank everyone at Yushinkan for all of the great experiences I've had here!