Home sweet homestay | SierraSun.com

Home sweet homestay

Renee Shadforth
Sierra Sun

Photo by Renee ShadforthThis is my bedroom in the Ito house, where I set up camp for two days this week.

My typical room for a homestay looks something like this. This is my room in the Ito house, my third of nine homestay families.

In this home, like all Japanese homes, you must take off your shoes before entering and you usually are provided with slippers. Before entering a tatami room – a space with flooring material that is made of straw mats – you must take off your slippers. This room had a coffee table in the center, which was replaced with a futon bed for me by the woman of the house. The doors are made of a rice paper material.

Most Japanese houses are small; the man who owns this home boasted to me that his house is three times the size of an average Japanese home. The Ito family is the most cup and saucer manufacturer in Japan; however, by American standards, his house was fairly modest in size, even though his three sons, a daughter-in-law and her two children all live in the house.

The style and interior design of Japanese style homes has made me rethink the interior of my 550-square-foot Tahoe home. Less is almost always more in a Japanese home. Instead of traditional Western hinged doors, almost all doorways inside a Japanese home are sliders. Instead of nick-nacks here and there, the decor in a Japanese home is sparse and tasteful. If there is decoration or a piece of art in a room, it seems to have purpose, by either meaning something to the family’s history or heritage.