Recently, between Wednesday 12 September and Monday 1 October, myself and 24 other students (ranging from Years 9-11) and three staff (Ms McAuliffe, Mr Cameron and Mr Givogue), visited Japan on what was essentially a study tour but also was a rich cultural experience. During our time away there were school visitations and we toured traditional and iconic temples, shrines and historical buildings. Japan itself, was an unforgettable experience; the traditions, the culture, and obviously the food, left me already planning my return trip. Personally, out of all the areas which we toured together with the school (organised by Ms Black), Tokyo was by far the most memorable city in Japan.
During our time in Tokyo, we visited Tokyo Disneyland for the day, giving us a chance to go on all of the amazing rides, such as Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and others, as well as buying items from the many Disney stores, ordering food in Japanese, and watching the Tokyo Disneyland 8 o’clock fireworks display.
The next day we visited the Edo Museum, which held many displays, models and historical artefacts from traditional Japan. Here, students were able to walk through model traditional Japanese homes and buildings, as well as see weaponry used during the times of the old Japanese military. Later that day, we had the opportunity to go and watch a live sumo wrestling tournament!
This was one of my favourite moments in our tour of Tokyo, because we got to observe the popular Japanese sport, and how important it is to Japanese people. All of the seats were full of excited fans, who would yell and cheer the names of their preferred sumo while holding up signs. It was very surprising how aggressive the sumo wrestlers were with each other when the match began, but still show the upmost respect towards one another. Another one of my favourite areas in Tokyo was Harajuku, where we practised praying at one of the temples there and visited the shopping district, where we were able to buy many of our souvenirs and anime merchandise.
Tokyo was definitely one of my favourite areas in Japan, with all of its culture and tradition that made the experience one that I could never forget. So, for any students who are considering going on the Japan tour in the future, I highly recommend it, because the experience itself isn’t one that you’ll find anywhere else, and it will help improve your Japanese, whether you do Japanese as a subject or not.
Isobel Hinds-Brooks (Year 11)
On the second week of the trip in Japan, students went on an exchange with Kawaguchi Kita High School. During the exchange students were hosted by students of Kawaguchi Kita for one week. It gave us the chance to have an authentic experience with Japanese culture. We got to discover what life is like for students and families in Japan.
The exchange was my favourite part of being in Japan. The people in Japan are amazing, they are always kind and respectful. Our host families were always catering for us and it was fun doing various activities with them. The students at Kawaguchi Kita high were also very kind, always intrigued and wanting to get to know us.
The exchange started with an introduction ceremony at Kawaguchi Kita High School. It was the first time I met my host and my host family. My host was a Year 11 student named Taishi, he had a little brother named Shinji. When I first met my host family they were happy to see me. I politely introduced myself in Japanese which really Impressed them. Taishi spoke amazing English which made it easy for us to communicate and become close friends. When I first met Shinji, he was incredibly shy and cried when he met me. We quickly arrived at my host family's home and they showed my around the house. Everything was clean and orderly. I talked about myself, such as hobbies and my family, and enjoyed trying to use my Japanese as much as possible. Shinji warmed up to me and was excited to pick out Japanese treats for me at the local supermarket. Later after we got back from the supermarket, I noticed that Shinji had a game called Bay Blade; I said I remember playing that in my childhood. Shinji, Taishi and I played it for a couple of hours. That enjoyable experience quickly formed a bond with my host family and Shinji was no longer shy around me. The next day was a Monday and a public holiday. We went to Hikawa-Jinja shrine which was beautifully surrounded by nature and traditional Japanese architecture. After that we had Japanese Dumpling called Dango. Dango is sweet treat that has a soft texture a bit like Gnocchi. Eating Japanese cuisine is very delicious. The last event for the day was the train museum in Tokyo. Going there was Shinji’s recommendation. The museum focuses on the history of trains in Japan. I was amazed at how interesting the history of trains in Japan was. I enjoyed it because it was a great way to spend time with my host family.
The next day was the first day of school at Kata Guchi Kita High School. I felt like a celebrity. All the students were excited to see us Frankston High School students. I made many new friends. Sometimes the language barrier was difficult as I was trying to use as much Japanese as I knew, and they were trying to use as much English as they knew. Taishi with his amazing English saved me by helping me as a translator. The language barrier never stopped me getting along with the students at Kawa Kita High School. School in Japan is very different compared to school in Australia. Everything is organised, all the students are silent in class, they work hard, and they are always respectful.
I got used to school life and fell in a routine. I didn’t understand much of the class work, instead I spent classes revising my own work. I’d participate and help students during English class. In Japan after school many students don’t leave until it's late, as they participate in various clubs such as sports clubs (traditional sports like Kendo). My favourite club was Karuta; it’s a traditional Japanese card game. It's a game that I’ve always been interested in and was excited that I got to experience the game in person. Sometimes we would get home around 8 o’clock at the latest, but I usually asked Taishi if we could get home earlier because I would get very tired after school.
My experience with my host family was special, as I made a bond that will last me a lifetime. On the last night of the exchange, my host family wrote me heart-warming letters and gave me gifts for my family and I. My host mother and father said that I am welcome to come back anytime. I never expected to feel anything during my exchange but when Taishi began to cry with the thought of me leaving the next day, I too started to cry. The last day we said goodbye and hugged at the train station before I departed. Shinji cried, too. I felt loved when I was with my host family. I really feel that my host family was like an extended family or a second family. In the morning just before we left for the train station, I made a Line account (a communication App) so I could keep in contact and communicate with Taishi while I was having my last week in Japan. Three days before I was meant to leave and depart at Narita Airport, Taishi sent me a message saying he would meet me there. He and His mother were the only ones to come to the airport and say one last goodbye. That was a special experience for me to have. Taishi is now like a brother to me. It’s been three weeks since coming home from Japan - I keep in contact with Taishi and plan to continue our friendship.
Thank you to everyone who made it possible for me to come to Japan, I’m already looking forward to going again.
Samuel Elliott – Year 11
After the home stay week we departed Tokyo and headed to Kyoto for four nights. The trip to Kyoto was a lot of fun, we got to visit Osaka Seikei Girls School, Nara Park, Miyajima Island, different temples/shrines, have a day tour around Kyoto and much more. Nara Park was the paradise for deer which people respect as a spirit animal. Locals can get a chance to feed them and some start screaming away as deer chase after them for food. Also, there is a temple at the end of the park and the view is breathtaking. It was fun to interact with the deer for the first time and the view of the temple is amazing. When we visited the Osaka Seikei Girls School, people were very welcoming, and the staff members were really nice. We got to do activities and have lunch with the local students, which were really exciting to experience. The day after, we went to Miyajima Island. We had to take a ferry in order to get there and back, and the ocean view was beautiful. While on the ferry you get to see the Great Torii Gate which is the entrance of the Miyajima Shrine. After that we went to Memorial Peace Park, A-Bomb Dome, Atomic Bomb which are important historical places.
We checked out of our hotel in Kyoto on Thursday September 27 and went to visit Frankston City Councils sister city Susono, which is the gateway town to famous Mount Fuji.
They welcomed us with a bag of goodies which included various treats, souvenirs and a hat of the city’s mascot, and they also provided us with a nice lunch. After lunch we went to a sight-seeing spot to admire and take photos of the great Mount Fuji, which included running through fields of the beautiful flowers in the foreground.
For the final part of our trip, we headed up to the mountains for three nights and based ourselves in Nagano. The hotel we stayed at are more like a traditional style and we got to enjoy the indoor and outdoor hot spring. From there we visited:
- Zenkoji Temple, founded over 1,400 years ago
- Matsumoto Castle, one of the oldest and most complete of Japan’s original castles
- Spent a day in Kanazawa, which included Musashigatsuji-Omicho Market and Kenrokuen Garden Kanazawa Castle Park
- The famous snow monkeys of Yudanaka
- A restaurant called Gotoku-Tei for a delicious Japanese lunch; the owner of the restaurant performed a Samurai exhibition
- Working grape and apple orchard. The fruit in Japan tastes much different to the fruit in Australia, especially the grapes which are much bigger and taste a little bit like mango
Overall, I really enjoy the time in Japan and I can recommend more people should join the trip to experience the culture and food.
Melanie Tiong – Year 11