This is a serious topic so I'll treat it seriously. I'd like to go so far as to remove the giant "LEGENDARY OCTOPUS COOKING" from my sig just kick the seriousness of this topic up and show how much I do respect it.
I'm not sure how many of you are familliar with the volunteer association Rotary International. It's an international group of businessmen and women volunteers that is represented in just about every city and suburb I can think of in the US. I happen to live in District 7470 in Northern NJ. In 2001, when I first went to Japan, it was through a summer youth exchange program supported by District 7470 and District 2670. If you haven't heard of District 2670, not that you ever heard of District 7470 before this, that's because it's not in this country. It's the District which comprises the 4 prefectures of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's major islands.
This exchange program has being going on for 26 years (one year missed only on account of SARS) and continues to grow stronger each year. Since going along as a student, I have volunteered each year since assisting the Japanese team during their time in the US. This program is very near and dear to me and has opened up COUNTLESS opportunities for making life-long friendships I never thought possible.
This program is NOT a whirlwind tour of Japan. Don't think about Tokyo because you won't even be close. You will land in Osaka and travel around Kansai and Chugoku before heading to Shikoku where you will homestay in each of the 4 prefectures over a course of three weeks. Maybe you've lost interest because of the 'no Tokyo' aspect but I assure, the friends you make through this will lead you there someday if you don't find yourself back there on your own.
At any rate, there are many many details to go over and I offer this opportunity just about every year on some forum somewhere and nobody ever takes a bite which is a damn shame since this is a life-changing opportunity. If anyone is interested in learning more about it, please feel free to PM or ask questions here.