●Generosity of Locals
I moved to Iizaka with my husband about two months ago, and time and time again, we’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of the locals. I wasn’t sure what to expect when signing up for the rice harvesting event, but after such a wonderful experience, I am glad that I did. I’ve never done anything like rice harvesting before, and working alongside everyone was a great bonding experience. 
Many of the locals came up to me and my husband during the event, welcoming us to the town. I was a bit nervous at first because my Japanese is not very good, and I am a shy person by nature. The language barrier makes my bashfulness even more pronounced. Having a mix of both foreigners and Japanese at the event made me feel secure enough to start using the little bit of Japanese that I know and made me feel more relaxed when becoming acquainted with the members of the community. Afterwards I felt much more comfortable with them, even considering the language barrier. 
It wasn’t just the adults that made me feel welcome either. Getting to know some of the local children was a lot of fun. I loved when the kids would show me the grasshoppers and the frogs that they found while harvesting the rice. It reminded me so much of when I was a child, and it made me feel like Japan isn’t so far from home after all. 
The generous feast after the rice harvesting was incredible and I got to try so many new things from the area. The whole experience really showed me just how much Iizaka has to offer, and the people that live here are amazing. It warmed my heart just how accepting and welcoming everyone was. 
With every new experience I feel more accepted by the residents of this wonderful little town. Each day that passes, Iizaka feels more like home. I feel lucky to be able to live here and be part of this community.

Angela Benson