When people come to japan, a major checkbox is staying in a traditional ryokan for a night or two. a ryokan is a traditional japanese inn sometimes run by a family that can be as fancy as one wants to pay to very basic. it’s generally set in a serene and peaceful setting outside of a city. it is also traditional for everyone to sleep on tatami-matted floors and eat meals in the same room. as lovely as that sounds, a family of six confined to a single room gave us pause. as a compromise, we decided to do a homestay with a family who kept the traditional room part, but we are free to use some additional space in their home. we weren’t sure how the whole thing would work out since we’d be stuck in the country without a car and sharing space, but decided to give it a go anyway. a few days in and the best part without a doubt for our kids is the family has three kids of their own. three kids in a japanese home is kind of like seeing a unicorn. the whole experience has been quite the contrast from city life and the kids have loved every moment. thus far, we’ve walked the 30 minute path the kids walk to school by themselves, walked an even longer distance to an incredibly quaint dairy farm, watched our host make soba noodles, and just enjoy the freedoms of country life. it’s been a glimpse of life that would be hard to experience otherwise. we’re looking forward to what else the week may bring. .