A home stay program was held in Itakura-machi, Gunma Prefecture, Nov. 3-5. On day 1, a mixer arranged by the students of the Itakura Campus was held at the campus's gymnasium, where participants enjoyed interacting with each other and communicating in English. On day 2, the exchange students went sightseeing with their respective host families and were able to experience everyday life such as shopping and preparing meals together. On the last day, they participated in a tea ceremony and listened to a talk on Buddhism at Seijoin Temple. At the tea ceremony, the students enjoyed delicious sweets and green tea, and learned about the basics of the Japanese tea ceremony. This included preparing the tea themselves. They also received an explanation on the principle concepts of Buddhism and experienced reciting the sutra. Their earnest recitation of the sutra while looking at the sutra book was an impressive sight. At the end, a barbecue party was held by the Itakura-machi International Exchange Association, with food prepared using local ingredients such as udon noodles with mushrooms. They were also able to experience traditional Japanese cultural activities,such as mochi-tsuki, where boiled rice is pounded into mochi rice cakes, and Japanese taiko drumming.
Host families that have accepted exchange students for many years were presented with a letter of appreciation and memento by Toyo's Director of the Center for Global Education and Exchange. At the end of the program, it was heartwarming to see the students sadly bid adieu to the families that looked after them.