Once again this morning we woke up with our host siblings, in their homes and got ready for school. For some of us the day started earlier than others, as many of our host siblings live far away from school, further than most of us may be used to. After breakfast we all made our separate ways to Ichihara, whether it be by bus, train, bike, car, or a combination of these transports. There were many great sights along the way, including for some of us Mt Fuji, the Thomas the Tank Engine bus, rice fields and beautiful traditional homes.
Upon arriving at Ichihara (waking up from the bus trip for most of us) we moved off to room 104 for homeroom, which is like PCG. Periods one through three were spent with our host siblings in class, each of us having different experiences depending on what grade and class our host brother or sister is in. Myself and a few others had Health, Taiso and Japanese History today, being in the same class as one another.
Health is the equivalent to HPE Theory at Faith, however since the whole lesson was in Japanese, we simply did our best to copy down the board notes, which were all in kanji, despite not knowing what was being taught. Of course our Japanese learning at Faith helped us pick up a few words, leading us to believe we may have been learning about recovery time for injuries in hospital. Where Health is like HPE Theory, Taiso is the same as HPE Prac, excpet Taiso is Japanese Gymnastics only. Sport lessons in Japan are not always Taiso, however with the upcoming sports festival, Ichihara students were practising and we were allowed to join in. It was very fun and rather light and easy compared to the kind of sports lesson we are used to. Whilst in the Gymnasium we were also able to see some Japanese dragonflies, which are bigger than Australian ones.
After Taiso, our class then moved on to Japanese History, with a teacher that reminded us of Mr Spiers from Faith. Once again not much could be understood but a comic was used as the learning text which helped us to understand a bit and was fun to look at. We continued practising our kanji skills by filling in the question sheets given to us using the answers from the board. On Fridays at Ichihara, just like at Faith, there is assembly, however it takes place a little earlier- 11:35AM. Today`s assembly was very special, as our Tour Group was introduced to the school and the Sister School Plaques and declaration were exchanged between Faith and Ichihara Chuo High School. Sam gave a short thank you speech of appreciation, which was followed by each of us individually introducing oursleves, and then addresses from both Mr Pope, and Miss Hyde finishing with the very formal appreciation speech, all of this being in Japanese of course! We and the students at Ichihara are so thankful that we are now official sister schools and look forward to developing our relationship further.
With the end of assembly came the end of the school day, which meant cleaning for the Japanese students, and a bit of song practise for the Japan Trippers. By this point it was aroubd 12:30, a nice early finish. Our efforts to practise were somewhat contested by Ichihara`s classical cleaning music, but we did make some progress. When cleaning was over, we got on the bus with our host siblings, joined by Mr Pope, Miss Hyde, Kijima Sensei and Tomoki Sensei, and we drove to Unimo, the Japanese equivalent of Carindale. At Unimo we did some browsing and buying with our siblings, Miss Hyde and Mr Pope in particular picking up some great deals. A small group of us used a Purika booth together, which takes group photos and allows you to edit them before printing them. It was a bit of a tight squeeze inside but it was definitely a fun experience which we now have solid mementos of. After the Unimo mall we went our separate ways, so I only know my own experience.
Today I got to see a shining example of Japanese kindness and the love of my Host Family. Even though my birthday is not for about another month from now, Arisa, my host sister, and her mother took me out for a birthday dinner to a fancy cafe with a bread buffet. It was certainly a surprise and I didn’t understand at first but when it was made clear to me what was going on I was very grateful. The dinner was a delicious three course meal of western food with continuous small breads coming around for us to try. A large candle decorated the table, and signified to the wait-staff that it was a birthday table.
Sadly none of us could finish our meals, getting too full, but there’s always room for cake after all, so the cheesecake, icecream, pudding and creamcake were enjoyed almost completely. Even the birthday sign was edible! After this wonderful experience Arisa’s mother drove us to Arisa’s ballet class. The people there were very talented and kind, and her sensei were very welcoming and fun ladies. Watching Arisa dance was great, and we also saw a big cockroach in the studio! Afterwards we drove home, having to wear seatbelts by law for the first time because we took the highway. Then it was a lovely bath and straight to bed! We’re all very excited for Disneyland tomorrow!!