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My name, Natsuno, means Summer in Japanese. My parents chose this name because I was born on the first day of summer in my beautiful homeland. As my name says, I am a summer person and I have a sunshine personality, I guess!!
Growing up in a small town with mountains, rivers and rice fields, even after travelling in bunch of countries, I would say that my hometown is the most beautiful place in the world. Where I came from is a small community, and no one is interested in going outside nor knowing about other cultures. For some reason, however, I ended up becoming a girl who was always dreaming about exploring the world - especially Africa.
This story tells something about me; when I was 10 years old, all the kids in my class had to work on a project on a foreign country. Everyone else chose UK, US, Italy or France, typical and familiar places for the Japanese. some kids even chose "Hawaii" as a "country of interest". Nevertheless, guess where I chose though.....GHANA. Don't ask me why I did not decide to research on Togo or Zimbabwe, but Africa was already in my DNA at that point.
No wonder why I was subscribing "Weekly World Heritage Magazine" while all my girl friends were crazy about girly manga or teenage fashion magazines. Thanks to Weekly World Heritage, every night before falling asleep, I could travel all over the world- from Normandy to Madagascar, from San'a to Machu Picchu - in my futon and imagination. Good old days!
Unlike myself, no one travels in my family. I am the first and the only one who has a passport in my family, so when I got my first passport, the entire family (including my grand parents and uncles & aunts) rushed to see "a real passport." I started my life outside Japan when I was 16. I went to a small Australian town as a high school exchange student. Since then, I have lived in Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal and Mali - where I currently call home.
Not sure where my life is going, and it is half scary and half exciting to think about it. My future plan is anyhow very flexible, so if you have a cool plan, let me know. I will be next to you in a week, no matter where you are!!
and....oh yes, yes...... I have a DREAM. when my kids are old enough in the future, I want to take them on the road. i will buy a used Japanese mini bus, and drive through the silk road and africa.....fo a year with my family. i want my inspiring friends (including you, of course) to join us with their kids...and we will camp around. our kids will play together speaking English, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Swahili, Korean, Chinese, Hindu, Urdu, Hausa....whatever the language they speak. and we adults will have a lovely conversation every evening. maybe we can stop in Iran for a month so that our kids can go to a local school....and why not homestay with mongolian nomadic family? their school work is OK, we, parents can teach them,so nothing to wory about. so people, join me in my DREAM in 20XX!!!
"the way you see a problem is the problem"
Why I’m on Couchsurfing
HOW I PARTICIPATE IN COUCHSURFING
I met Steve, the least American-like American guy that I have met so far, when I was travelling in South Africa. He is also the craziest person I have ever met in my life....and he completely changed the way I see life. He was the one who told me about CS. I was terrified to get to know about the concept and idea of CS....the person who came across with this idea deserves Nobel Peace Prize, I bet!! It really is so cool!! Love and Peace.
I hope to meet so many people who will inspire me and expand my horizons through CS....and I hope that I will the same for others too!!
Even before officially joining CS, I was actually "couchsurfing" quite often...yes, sometmes, it is the only opton that you have in remote areas of Africa and other parts of the world!! :)
I stayed with/ hosted/ met so many really cool, funky,intelligent and open-minded couchsurfers. It is hard to choose "my lifetime cs experience" because every single experience has been just splendid, but if I am to choose one, I would choose our precious experiences in Khartoum, Sudan.
This guy, Abdurahim, was someone we randomly met at the central bus terminal in Khartoum. We were having some problemes and stress bacause of Sudanese authority and bureaucracy. Sudanese bureaucracy is said to be the worst in Africa, by the way. In Sudan, every paperwork was so difficult and time consuming.
Abdurahim not only helped us at the bus terminal with paper work, but kept giving us lots of assistance throughout the 18 days that we spent in Sudan. His dedication was just unbelievable. In today's world controled by individualism, it was such an unforgettable experience. This guy touched, and still is touching my heart.
It is a long story, but because of so many troubles with police, buses and government officials, we had to stay in Sudan onger than the expire day of our Sudanese visa. oops!! But when this happened, he helped us again and hosted us in his flat in Khartoum, cooked us some nice Sudanese food (it was during Ramadan. After sunset, food served in efta was just beautiful) and took us around. We had so many nice discussions too. He didnt go to work because we were there!!!
He is now a CS, so if you are interested, you can contact him. He is in my friends list.
He is a role model of all the cs. Thanks to him, Sudan is one of my favorite countries in the world. No matter how bad the media talks about Sudan, for me, it is a country where he lives.
*Travelling (If not, I would not be here :p)
*Dancing (Open to learn any type of dance)
*Outdoor activities (Hiking, trekking, swimming, scuba diving, skiing, jogging...etc I climb Mt. Fuji every year. Mt. Kilimanjaro was fantastic)
*Meeting new people with crazy ideas
*Writing and reading (I really want to make my life by writing one day in my life)
*Planning for next big trips!!
*Nightlife (All-night Tokyo karaoke with a group of CS, clubbing in Bhutan where everyone dances with a glass of tea, drinking with big Kazakh guys in a village in mountains, dancing with kids at night in the middle of nowhere in West Africa, smoking sheesha in the Saharah in Algeria....etc)
- drinking games
- outdoor activities
- scuba diving
- emergency services
Music, Movies, and Books
I read lots of classical/modern Japanese literature. Love non-fiction too. Especially history books and travel books
Malian (Amadou et Mariam), Senegalese (Ismael Lo), Nigerian (P-Square), Iranian (25 Band), Bossa Nova (any musician!), Congolese Rumba (Dr. Nico), Ethiopian (Gossaye), Cuban (Bueno Vista Socio Club), South African House, etc.
Miyazaki and Yasujiro Ozu are my favorite Japanese filmmakers. Otherwise I LOVE watching documentaries. I also like the works of Raoul Peck. Crazy Nollywood (Nigerian movies) are fun to watch. Mary Poppins - don't forget this fantastic film.
One Amazing Thing I’ve Done
i) I crossed the African continent overland from South Africa to Egypt by buses and hitchihiking. This was amazing. I will keep talking about this to my grandchildren in the future.
ii) I did free-hug in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Lots of soldiers were there, but they were all smiling at us. SHARE LOVE AND LIGHT!! :)
iii) I talked on a rebel radio for 2 hours in Cote d'Ivoire when the country was still divided into two, which was quite funny but weird.
iv) I witnessed the birth of my friend's baby girl in Northern Norway (in the labour room!) A beautiful beautiful beautiful experience of a beautiful night with lots of Northern Lights outside.
v) North Korea!! that was one of the most idea-changing experience. Arirang festival (communist mass game created by 100,000 people) are truly WOWing and a MUST see in your life. As North Korea is a neighbouring country for Japan, the trip made me think about SO MANY things. I also played a lot of drinking games in North Korea with Korean people
vi) I told Laura Bush that her husband must be “an interesting guy in a way” at the occasion of G8 summit in Germany in 2007. I was young, and fearles
vii) I camped in the middle of nowhere in Namibia with CS friends, and finding so many scorpions in the following morning
viii) I danced on a stage in front of hundred people in a local bar in Goma, DR Congo on a Friday evening. Everyone as glad to see me dance with Lingala music - a lot told me that I dance better than the Congolese (aka the best dancers in Africa) and even suggested that I open a dance club i Kinshasa
ix) I was traveling in Xinjiang, China with a friend. Xinjiang is a politicaly sensitive province, and foreigners are only allowed to stay in expensive hotels for foreigners (i.e., not allowed to stay in cheap local hotels for Chinese people). We were broke, so we tried to with "Chinese only" hotels - and of course, police would come and try to explain to us why we are not allowed to stay there. And we would ask the police "so can you guys host us at your police office?" which ended up leading us to "CSing" at police stations! haha
x) Smoking sheesha and having alcohol (yes, homemade alcohhol is widely consumed in Iran!) with a super funky Iranian mother and her underground artist son in Tabriz, Azerbaijan Region of Iran. She was such a cool old lay. Very hippi, very liberal and enjoying her life!
Others include; voodoo ceremony to make my wishes come true in Benin; hanging around with Jamaican-born Rasta priests in Shashamane, Ethiopia; overnight ride on the famous iron train in Mauritania; meeting with a boy who dances perfectly like a Japanese pop star in the middle of nowhere in the Algerian Sahara; partying hard in Paris catacombes at 3am with the fellow CSers; hanging around in a Miao vilage for one month in Southern China; bumping into friends in super random places (Vancouver ferry, Dakar port, Abidjan airport, Dubai Airport, Ethiopian airline flight, a street in Maputo, etc), surviving NASTY malaria in Mozambique.....
You never know what to expect in your life, and this is why im so addicted to it!!
Teach, Learn, Share
Teach: Japanese language, Japanese history....hmmm what else can I teach?
Learn: I am interested in pretty much everything! In 2016, I want to spend more time doing/ learning;
* Cooking (I don't cook at all when I am alone......)
What I Can Share with Hosts
Fun time, good energy and light. What else do you need from your CS guest? :)
Countries I’ve Visited
Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Canada, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Germany, Guinea, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, North Korea, Norway, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Qatar, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States
Countries I’ve Lived In
Australia, Côte d'Ivoire, Japan, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Uganda