We kick started our time in Ichihara with the excitement of meeting our host students. For those of us with families that could not communicate very well in English, it simply meant we had another challenge to accomplish ahead of us. True to word, we soon regarded our host students family as our own!
The next day we were introduced to a much different environment of Japanese school life. After a tour of the school we shifted through classes with our host buddy. It was surprising to find that while most subjects learnt were very different what we were used to, many remained similar to that in Australia. With fun activities planned for us we spent the last hours of our school day personalizing our very own traditional Uchiwa (Japanese Fan). With the Kanji for “serenity” painted on the front, we painted any design or Disney character on the back, in knowledge that these fans would be accompanying is to Disneyland on Saturday!
Later that day, we visited Kasamori Kannon Temple, a Buddhist Temple and Shinto Shrine together surrounded by mountains and beautiful nature. Although we had the challenging task of climbing every step that lay ahead of us, I can say with certainty it was all worthwhile!! We were given the opportunity of seeing the statues and shrines that belonged to their religions, and even ringing the Shohro-Do Bell!! Ringing this big bell involved pulling a rope which in turn pulled back a large log to strike the bell. The echoes of the bell were definitely peaceful and considered one of the highlights of our day!
We also climbed through the centre of a camphor tree over a hundred years old and it is said that children who pass through the hole called Kosazukenokusu will receive good fortune. We the headed home and spent the rest of the evening and night with our host families. I found that spending time with my host student and seeing how she lives in Japan has been a great experience, along with her kind friends that I have met along the way. I have met a lot of great people so far, and to live the Japanese culture today, was a very challenging yet rewarding experience.