Pacific Rim Diaries: A new country, a new family

Editors note: This is the first in a series of diary entries from Ashland High football player Lucas Stone as he enjoys the sights and sounds of Japan leading up to Pacific Rim Bowl XI.

Upon arrival at Narita Airport in Tokyo the back of the plane is a chorus of rudimentary Japanese. Single Japanese words ring out from 47 high school football players, our mouths are as wide open as our eyes. We are all just eager to make the most of our short time in this amazing country.

Passing through the customs inspection went by quickly, as did checking back with our domestic flight. The whole process has been streamlined so as to remove potential blunders. The low overcast that blankets the airport is not reflective of everyone's excitement. The amount of rain they get here at this time of year is pretty amazing, if only Ashland could steal some of it then perhaps we wouldn't have such drought-like summers. While sitting at the terminal awaiting our flight to Osaka, the TV displays sumo wrestling matches. Any doubts of the world we had just entered disappear as we sit mesmerized watching four hundred pound giants throw themselves at each other.

The traveling takes its toll on us as one by one players drift off to sleep while the plane is sitting on the tarmac waiting to depart for Osaka. Landing sends jolts of energy and adrenaline through our veins as we realize how close we are to being immersed in a new world. The Japanese welcoming party takes up half of the arrival hall as we pour out looking for a sign with our name on it, knowing that the person attached to it is going to be our family for the next week. The heat and humidity make shirts stick to their owners, as well as creating a comfortable temperature that entices us tired teens to float off to sleep. Despite our body's cries for rest, everyone of us know that if an opportunity to experience some of Japan tonight arises then none of us will say no.

My host family reminds me a lot of my own family. I thought I could see my mother leading me to a car while blabbering out broken English. They are very similar except for their size; I think my real mother has about ten inches on my host mother. A delicious meal capped off a 22-hour day of traveling and I can feel my body grinding to a stop. If my first day in Japan is any indication, I think this is going to be a trip to remember.

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