It is hard to sum up today in words. Big. Fun. Amazing. Today my host family hosted a big party in their side yard as a goodbye party for me, since this is my last weekend here in Japan. Many, many guests visited to have some fun. It was a great time. I have to start somewhere, so the morning is a good place to begin. We first prepared the house and a bunch of food for the party that was to take place later on. My contribution was some chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal cookies (neither very common at all in Japan). The funny story about the oatmeal cookies is that it was made from instant oatmeal packets I brought for my host family to sample for breakfast food. They simply told me that Japanese people don’t like oatmeal, so I got creative and researched a cookie recipe. My cookies were a hit that night . Anyways, a few of Erika’s friends came over early around lunch time, and so the party began! From that point on many guests filtered in and out throughout the afternoon until late into the night. The neat thing about the BBQ was that it was Japanese style... always going. When you were hungry, you grabbed the THINLY sliced meats from a selection of beef, pork, or chicken, and some vegetables (cabbage, squash, corn) and took it to the grill. It is all a "do it yourself" process done with chopsticks. Yakiniku (literally grilled meat) is very fun. I have to try to make it the same way in America when I get back! The afternoon was very social, with many friends stopping by. The neat thing was that so many people stopped by, and each had their own special story from this past summer. Not all of the kids were from Ryukoku high school. Many people were from other schools, or even other cities. Going along with the unwritten rule of Japanese hospitality: if someone hosts a party, always bring a gift. I think almost everyone brought big bottles of juices and teas, or gourmet desserts. There was a lot of food! With all of the friends, we socialized, partied inside, outside, grilled, and talked some more. It was so much fun. Even though I already stated it, it was so great to see all of the people I met this summer, and your challenge is to match them up with their part of my journey. I was so grateful for my family for providing me with such an amazing day. To finish it all off, when dusk fell, we walked down the street to light off fireworks and firecrackers. The evening was very laid back, and all of the people were extremely nice. I really have made so many great friends here. The least I could do was give them some small Troy trinkets and my email address. I really crammed a lot into this post. There are so many great side stories about my time spent with each great individual that I have met, left unwritten. So many great memories have been created. A few more still to come with my final few days!