Sayo Yamasaki, 14, of Japan, and her host sister, Sydney Brancaleon, 16, of Cassopolis, who will be a junior at Edwardsburg High School. (The Daily News/John Eby)
Sayo Yamasaki, 14, of Japan, and her host sister, Sydney Brancaleon, 16, of Cassopolis, who will be a junior at Edwardsburg High School. (The Daily News/John Eby)

Archived Story

Showing animals, watching rodeo new experiences for Japanese visitor

Published 4:47pm Sunday, August 15, 2010

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

CASSOPOLIS — Animals, like she encountered at the 159th Cass County Fair, were all new to Japanese visitor Sayo Yamasaki, 14, of Ibaraki, a suburb of Osaka. Rodeo was another experience she never saw in Japan.

Sayo attended the 4-H BRAVO luncheon Friday noon in the basement of the Agnes Gregarek Building on the fairgrounds with her host family, Mrs. Paul (Tina) Brancaleon of Cassopolis and her daughter, Sydney, 16, who will be a junior at Edwardsburg High School.

Sydney belongs to JOY (Jefferson Outstanding Youth) 4-H club. She finished first in senior rabbit showmanship. A rabbit showman for nine years, Sydney also exhibits poultry.

Sydney’s brother, David, exhibited the champion cockerel and the reserve champion hen Aug. 5.

“This is her third week,” Mrs. Brancaleon said. “She goes back (this) week. She came the Saturday before fair and was tired and jet-lagged for about three days because our day is her night. She flew in from Tokyo, a 13-hour flight, to Houston. After a layover, she flew to Detroit, got on a bus and rode to Lansing.

“They made it to the hotel at midnight. Ask four teen-agers to go to sleep. It didn’t happen, and they were back in the restaurant at 7 a.m. We picked her up at 10.”

“We picked fair projects for her,” Mrs. Brancaleon said. “We didn’t know, so we had to guess. She did woodburning for us, flower arranging, a dozen eggs and she showed a chicken because my children do. Hopefully, she had fun. It was a huge, new experience for her. She lives in a large city that has its own water park and museum. No animals. Animals were a brand-new thing, with allergies full throttle. The first day she went through the barn, her eyes swelled shut. She’s a tiny young lady and eats like a bird,” but they exposed her to the Amish culture in Shipshewana, Ind., and plan to visit Chicago.
Sayo, an eighth grader who has two younger brothers, said she plays clarinet in band and enjoys miniature golf.

Tina said she also plays piano. “She’s the perfect houseguest,” Mrs. Brancaleon said. “Almost too perfect. She says yes too often.”

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