Wow! What a day. I keep thinking we have seen the best Japan has to offer, but continue to be blown away by the amazing sites this wonderful country has on show. Upon waking after a little sleep-in, we were quickly on our way, complete with a packed breakfast made by our caring hotel owners. Everyone was in high spirits and eager to see what the new day would bring. Upon arrival at the train station, one of our students realised they had forgotten their rail pass, so a few of us needed to make the journey back to the hotel at a lightning pace. Fortunately, the owner of the hotel offered to drive us back to the train station so we could make our train to Nara on time, much to the delight of the awaiting Miss Hyde. It was a great experience to be driven through Japanese streets for the first time.
From the train station, we needed to take a bus to arrive at Nara Deer Park, where there were literally hundreds of deer roaming amongst the crowds vying for a bite to eat. Students had a competition to see who could get the funniest selfie with a deer, and Aidan won with a great image where he and the deer held a striking resemblance. From here we went to visit the largest wooden structure in the world (Todaiji Temple), housing a 15m high Bronze Buddha. It was a phenomenal site and looked more like a picture out of a book than a real life structure. From here we went to see another temple and large pagoda. There are so many things to see in Nara and Kyoto but this brief snapshot showed the traditional Japan in the best way. With everyone tired and with sore feet, we had a bite to eat and headed to our next long train ride.
Thankfully the carriage we were in was empty (a rare occurrence!) and most of us took the opportunity to have a nanna nap. Arriving at the world famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, few of us knew what was in store. Set amongst a deep forest, kilometers of walking track up a mountain enclosed by thousands of torii gates painted in bright orange led us on a round trip of the mountain. It was a magical (and exhausting) hike, but well worth it to see the view of the city and experience the feelings of accomplishment when we finished. Truly an experience I will never forget.
With everyone a bit delirious from the exercise (we walked over 21000 steps and 61 stories today!), and after some funny group photos, we ventured back to Kyoto for a great night out. Our first stop was a technology store where several people bought new phone covers and much needed supplies. From here, he decided to eat at an authentic Japanese restaurant where we needed to remove our shoes and sit at the table with our feet underneath. The food was phenomenal and many funny stories were told. I think everyone was really happy to be sitting down and relaxing! When dinner was finished, we headed to a games arcade and then on to another session of karaoke. Everyone sang better this time, due to the bonding the group has experienced over the last week and how comfortable we have become in each other’s company. The night finished with ice cream and everyone headed to bed; tired but extremely happy.
Today was a fitting finale to an amazing week of sightseeing. I have had an extremely enjoyable time and am ready for the week ahead with our sister school and host families. I am very proud of our students and how they are looking after each other and remaining positive. I would like to thank Miss Jodie Hyde for organising such a successful trip to share her passion of the Japanese culture and language.
Mr. Ben Rosenblatt