Due to the busyness of Day 6 we were unable to visit Kiyomizudera Temple, therefore the new plan was to visit the temple early this morning. To do this it meant we had to get up at 4:50am to catch the 5:20am train! I am not kidding we were up before the sun was. We caught the train and then had a 30 minute walk up a massive hill to reach the top of the mountain where the temple is found. Once we got to the front gate we realised why Hyde Sensei encouraged us to get up so early. It is a beautiful sight and you can look down upon all of Kyoto and it was even nicer with the sun rise backdrop and non crowded paths to the main temple. At Kiyomizudera there are nice wide wooden verandahs in which you can stand at different points and enjoy the panoramic views of Kyoto including Kyoto tower which is not far from our hotel. This temple is one of the most visited temples in Kyoto and is usually very busy and bustling with many tourists and markets selling various Japanese souvenirs and food. But because we were there early we were fortunate enough to walk around without other people interrupting our photos and it was a very peaceful and serene setting.
Once we made our way back to the bottom of the mountain we then found a convenience store to get some breakfast. We have become very accustomed to Japanese convenience store food and think it is always very OISHII (delicious). We actually regularly make the suggestion to get food from there rather than finding a restaurant or take away place. After brekky we headed back to our hotel to gather our belongings and then make our way back to Kyoto station for our last Shinkansen trip to Tokyo. Luckily our luggage had been sent ahead as we had to run for the train and only just made it!
The shinkansen ride was just over 3 hours and most of us slept on the train or watched a movie. The weather was a little overcast and rainy in patches so we were also unable to see Mt. Fuji 😦 When we arrived at Tokyo station we found an obento place and each got a Japanese lunch box to eat before hopping on the train to our Host Families. This is when the nerves starting setting in about meeting our host families but there was also lots of excitement amongst us all. After a 50 minute train ride, and then a 20 minute bus trip, we finally arrived at Ichihara Chuo High School and were very surprised to find it tucked away amongst lots of rice farms and other farms, not in the city like we had imagined. We had to change out of our shoes into special school slippers and then made our way to a room where all our wonderful host buddy students were waiting with nervous but excited smiles. I think everyone in the room was feeling both nervous but extremely excited at meeting each other and all the fun times that lay ahead for us. We each made our way home with our host buddy either on the train or bus and once again we were surprised that many students live so far away from their school and can travel for up to an hour to get there.
We are already being treated like rockstars and celebrities with everyone wanting to talk to us and practice their English. Ichihara is a great school, and we know that we are going to enjoy the next 4 days with our host families getting to know them like our own families.