Recently, we have definitely felt the coming effects of summer in Toyokoro.
The crops are growing very quickly; wheat, azuki (Japanese red bean), edamame, various potatoes, and, daikon are all being grown.
With a shrinking population of around 3,000 people and a growing population of about 10,000 cows, Toyokoro has definitely been busy bringing in the summer with farming.
Besides that, the summer festivals in Japan are just starting.
As everything is beginning in Toyokoro, it seems my time here is coming quickly to an end.
Two years ago, I moved to Summerland’s Sister City, Toyokoro to teach English not knowing much about the town or Japan for that matter.
My image of Japan was electronics, robotics and the strange culture that seems to always make news back home in Canada.
But to my utter astonishment, those are only small things in a very ancient, unique culture, which only in the last couple hundred years opened its borders to foreigners.
Because of that, Japan, in many ways, is a very untouched country.
Since I’ve been in Japan I have tried many different things unknown in Canada; everything from (accidentally) eating anglerfish liver, to participating in tea ceremonies, to putting on heavy equipment to fight students with wooden swords (a Japanese sport called kendo.)
Since I’ve been here, I’ve also experienced three earthquakes and three typhoons.
All in all, it’s been two years filled with many new experiences.
When I came here two years ago, not really knowing what to expect and not knowing any Japanese, I was welcomed with open arms, and lots and lots of parties.
Every year, I can tell that the Sister City relationship here is becoming more important.
Now, not just the adults in Toyokoro know about the relationship, but the kids in the schools know Summerland, and are eager to tell me about a relative who has traveled there.
My one hope is for this to continue, and for students to have the opportunity to do this every year, as it completely opens up their world to a different view.
Thank you to everyone in Summerland for supporting this wonderful program.
Since this is my last article, I want to say thank you everyone for reading my articles all this time! Starting next month, a different assistant English teacher, Allyssa Hooper will take over teaching in Toyokoro.
Thank you everyone and sayonara,
Anna Marshall is in Summerland’s sister city of Toyokoro, Japan as the assistant English teacher.