Japan Tour 2015- Day 5

Today has been a mixture of emotions. Fun, inspiring, moving, heartbreaking, scary, confronting, exciting and intense. A strange mix, I know… But when we left our hotel early this morning, we all knew what was to come; Hiroshima Peace Park. One of the most sacred and important places in Japan. We did one of our infamous mad dashes to catch the bus, and along the way came across a small, cute, old lady, less than half my height. She came up to us, and said “背が高いですよ!” whilst pointing at our heads, which translates to “VERY TALL!” Hahaha! Upon getting on the bus we were pleasantly surprised when one of the bus staff handed all of us flowers to lay at the Hiroshima Peace Park. It just goes to show how beautiful and respectful their culture really is.

Straight after getting off the bus, we came face to face with some of the ruins destroyed by the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945. It was crazy to see how much damage it caused. We were on our way to the museum when we saw a man standing on a rock shouting things out to crowds of people. Rhiannon, who went on the last Japan tour, informed me that he was a survivor, and that he is one of many that stands there every day, telling his story of survival and hope to the crowds of people that come and visit. Over the past few months, Ms Hyde and the rest of us have been at school on Wednesday lunchtimes folding cranes and creating a ‘Faith sign’ to place at Sadako’s monument in the Peace Park, an       d our time finally came for us to do that today. It was a strange feeling knowing that even though the atomic bomb hit 70 years ago, we were still playing a part in the event, and making a difference.

After Sadako’s monument, and a few other monuments, we arrived at Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial Museum. I thought I had prepared myself prior to entering the museum, and people had warned me of what I might expect, but I soon realized that nothing can quite prepare someone for what was in there. Walking through the museum, I was confronted with original items from the bombing, graphic images of people, completely burnt from head to toe, pieces of human anatomy taken from hospitals, and so much more. I couldn’t help but burst into tears as I stared down at a burnt, bloodstained school shirt, once belonging to a girl my age. It did make me think about how fortunate I am to have a great life, and how I need to live out my purpose, because this girl wasn’t able to.

After looking carefully and slowly at each exhibit, I soon realized what the real purpose of the museum was. It wasn’t to scare people, or make them feel uncomfortable. It wasn’t to get revenge on those who bombed Hiroshima. It was to give hope to everyone, and pray that nothing like that ever happens again. There is currently an eternal flame burning in Hiroshima, and it will only be extinguished once all the nuclear weapons in the world are destroyed. I personally believe that our world can change for the better, and that one day we will achieve world peace.

We were all starved by the end of the museum, and my face was stained by tears, so food was sounding like a good option. We headed to the train station, and decided on a tasty Japanese restaurant that served tempura, soba, and udon. It was very delicious!! Miyajima Island was our next scheduled location, and so we were off again.

A bus ride and a ferry ride later we arrived, and the first thing we noticed was a big, beautiful temple. I paired off with Rhiannon, Harrison and Meron, and we had some great adventures together! The very first thing we did was grab some Japanese soft serves (yummmmm), and then we went for a little walk. We walked around the shops for a while and bought some presents, and then we found this secret staircase that led to a giant temple. It was so pretty inside, and I enjoyed taking my shoes off and journaling on the floor. After the temple we went to the beach, and chilled there for a while. Meron and I came up with a secret handshake, and then we taught Rhiannon and Harrison too… It’s pretty great, if I do say so myself.

Another ferry ride back, and we were, yet again, starved. Hiroshima is famous for making delicious okonomiyaki (it is a stack consisting of egg, noodles, cabbage, shallots, bean sprouts, pork and more), and so we caught a bus again to Okonomi mura and enjoyed this delight! It is run by these lovely people, and a very old lady that works there (Mama San) told us that she has worked there for 50 years! Crazy!

After a good feed we decided to really get into the spirit of Japan, and visit Karaoke! I sang my little heart out, and I think I lost my voice. It was a lot of fun though!!! We had our own little private room and jukebox, and we picked a song and went for it! Awesome! I think Katy Perry – Roar was the hit of the night, and the screen told us that during that song, we burnt 6 calories! Hahahaha!

Overall today was a great day. It turned out to be all of the things I thought it would be, and heaps more. I will continue to pray for those in Hiroshima, and I will always remember the things I saw today, and hope for a better future. I am really loving trying new things and tasting new foods. Japan, please can I stay here? Hahaha!

Evelyn Duthie.

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Japan Tour 2015 – Day 4

Today we woke up to a warm, bright and sunny morning- YAY! We went down to get breakfast at about 8:30am and every one except Hyde Sensei got the western style buffet. By 10am everyone had their bags packed and sent to Kyoto, and we were ready to go to Tokyo’s SKYTREE. Once we got to SKYTREE, we had to stand in line for just over an hour and purchase our tickets. Hyde Sensei then gave us an hour to explore the 3 floors of Sky Tree. This is where things got a bit interesting…..

After the hour was up, everyone went back to the meeting point that was arranged. However, the only people that didn’t show up were Hyde Sensei and Mr Rosenblatt. So, all of the students waited 350 metres up in the air for just under an hour, until we decided to use our emergency call lanyards. Miya was able to talk to one of the security guards in Japanese and ask him if he would be able to call Hyde Sensei. Eventually we discovered that the teachers were on the 5th floor of the Sky Tree waiting for us to come down. The natural path of the tower leads you to the bottom rather than the top so once again our teachers were being too logical!

After we found them, we decided that we should all go and have sushi for lunch. I tried raw fish for the first time and Harrison tried sushi for the first time of his life as well. It was surprisingly good and we both enjoyed it thoroughly and plan to eat plenty more before we return home. Japanese sushi is completely different to our sushi back home! After sushi, it was a mad rush to get to the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) which departed at 4:07pm. Fortunately, everyone in the group is fit enough to run up a few flights of stairs and dodge the massive crowds. While we were on the Shinkansen, I tried to get some sleep and listened to some music, Rhiannon and Evelyn took a whole lot of selfies while they pulled silly faces, while Miya, Harrison and Aidan just had a long chat on the first half of the ride and of course Aidan slept like he always does. He has become a champion Japanese power napper! On the second half of the ride, everyone was talking about their friends, movies and how they like their men (noodles). Once we got off the Shinkansen, we stopped by a mini bakery and Meron San (me) got some Meron Pan (Melon Bread). The final stop of the day was at a small convenience store so that everyone could get some ice-cream for dessert before bed. I am highly looking forward to going to the Hiroshima Memorial Museum tomorrow. It has also been quite surprising how much Japanese we can actually speak and understand while people are talking to us everyday!

– Meron San (Cameron) *for those who don’t know, a meron is a “melon” (watermelon, rockmelon or honeydew melon) 😉 IMG_0105 IMG_0112 IMG_8681 IMG_0107 IMG_0106 IMG_0104 IMG_8674 IMG_8678 IMG_8679

Japan Tour 2015 – Day 3

Our second day in Japan has flown by seeing us spending more time with my Japanese sister Midori while visiting Tsukiji fish markets, Miraikan (Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) and Ghilbli Museum.

The start of the day at Tsukiji was such a culturally enriching experience allowing us to get amongst the locals and see where Japanese people shop and the foods they eat on a daily basis. We were also privileged to be privy to some of the best seafood in the world!! There were stalls upon stalls of ultra fresh salmon, tuna, octopus, squid and every edible marine creature you could think of. These were accompanied by some other incredible stalls, including those that make knives on premise. This was an amazing art to watch as the men formed handles and sharpened steel. Something that brought great joy to Midori, a metal work enthusiast, and this put a huge smile on her face and therefore ours. We were also surrounded by many stalls selling all kinds of fresh and pickled produce (Japanese people LOVE their pickles!). One stall was even selling some very special mushrooms for 11,000 yen. There was also another stall that sold gelato, in Japan it is common to see green tea and black sesame flavoured gelato but at this stall we found another very interesting one, ebi or prawn gelato. Yes, prawn…nobody tried it. It was so special to me to spend the day with my sister absorbing Japanese life and sharing our love for seafood and fresh produce.

After Tsukiji we paid a visit to the Miraikan museum. This place is best well known for its robot demonstrations through the development of Asimo the robot. We unfortunately weren’t able to see these demonstrations today but instead were lucky enough to experience a Pokemon exhibit where we were able to try and guess the Pokemon inside the pokeball using a series of machines. The museum in other sections also had research experiences running that looked at your posture and gait, as well as machines that showed where earthquakes and tsunamis had struck in the last two years all over the world. Australia has had a few earthquakes recently as we know! From here we then had a quick lunch before heading out to the Ghibli Museum.

Heading to the Ghibli Museum required a few train changes but our lovely Japanese guide, Midori, had a little difficulty, sending us on a train in the wrong direction and with many wrong turns after that. In her way though it was all laughed off and only brought more enjoyment to the day. When we finally made it to the Ghibli museum though what a sight it was, this quaint yet large and majestic house that appeared to be set in the countryside like something you would find in a fairytale. It was such a wonderful surprise to our day! Once we entered inside it only became more magical opening to a large staircase that we followed down to discover we were on the base of a three storey museum in a Ghibli fairytale house. This entire place was absolutely incredible and its beauty and wonder can not be described in words. It is a place truly to be seen, it’s aesthetics and the knowledge it gives you behind the art of making animation are a keepsake for life. So many rooms in the museum were set up like the people behind the animation were still there working and they were very hands on allowing us to move through the rooms, exploring the Ghibli world.

After Ghibli we went to dinner, savouring our last meal with Midori while laughing and sharing jokes. But it was all over too soon before we were headed to the train station, hugging Midori goodbye and saying mata ne (see you later) rather than sayonara (goodbye). We were right to say that too because when we got onto the train she was the platform across from us, so we waved and waved while blowing kisses and love hearts as the train rolled away ready for tomorrow’s adventures. Rhiannon IMG_8620 IMG_8612 IMG_0079 IMG_0069 IMG_0065

Japan Tour 2015 – Day 2

IMG_0004 IMG_0016 IMG_0027 IMG_0030 IMG_0047 IMG_8595 IMG_0021Today was our first full day in Japan. Originally the plan for today was to visit Tokyo Sky Tree, however Tokyo has treated us with some rainy weather to start the trip and we decided instead of the Sky Tree we would visit Asakusa and do a bit of shopping. After a decent sleep in from yesterday’s exhaustion and a fantastic Japanese style breakfast, we set off to the train station. Upon arriving at Asakusa, we were met with the smiling face of Midori-san! Her happiness quickly spread through the group and the fun began.

In Asakusa, there is a large Buddhist temple, the ‘Sensoji Temple’. It is surrounded by the ‘Nakamise shopping street’, in which we enjoyed a long walk around and bought ‘omiyage’, or souvenirs. The constant bustle of people and the vast blanket of umbrellas along the streets kept us somewhat dry from the continuous rainfall, and it was fun to see all the different stalls and what they had to offer.

After our visit to the shopping streets of Asakusa, we jumped on another train to Sky Tree Town, at which we could view the tower from the ground and observed all the fog around it, and we knew we had made the right decision to not go up. Walking through the shopping centre under the tower, we viewed some more interesting stalls and eventually purchased some green tea flavoured ice cream wrapped in a pancake, which was very delicious.

Another train took us to Ryogoku (Sumo Stadium) at which Hyde Sensei surprised us with tickets to the Sumo Tournament! We were all extremely excited and after a long walk around in circles trying to find our seats we settled in for a great show. The sumos have some strange traditions before each bout, such as slapping themselves all over their bodies for intimidation, and throwing handfuls of salt onto themselves and the arena as purification. These pre-wrestle rituals would drag out for many long minutes, with the wrestlers facing off and then suddenly coming back to the corner of the arena to chuck some more salt around. They would do this up to 3 or 4 times before the wrestle actually began! It was fun to watch because the Sumos would perform some funny tricks before the wrestle and really got the crowd going. After many hours of viewing the entertainment of the sumo tournament, we set out for the train station once again.

A short while later we arrived in Shibuya, known for its crowds and enormous crossing. We visited the statue of Hachiko, a dog with a very famous story. Hachiko was a loyal dog who would wait at the entrance to Shibuya train station for his owner every day, however one day his owner did not return from work. He had passed away during the day, however Hachiko continued to wait by the entrance every day until he himself passed away nine years later. After visiting the statue, we crossed the world famous intersection and looked for a place to eat dinner. After locating a noodle shop, we settled in for some fantastic Ramen. Dinner was delicious, and although Mr Rosenblatt struggled with his chopsticks a bit, we all eventually finished and it was time to go shopping! After an hour or so of more fun, we met up again and it was time to return to the hotel. We said goodnight to Midori-San and another train ride brought us back. We were all very exhausted and glad to be able to get some rest.

After so much excitement from just one day in Japan, we are sure the rest of the time will be even better! We are looking forward to seeing more of Japan, however for now we are just grateful to be able to get a good nights sleep.

OYASUMINASAI – Aidan

The anticipation, the excitement…. Only two more sleeps!!!

A group of six senior students studying Japanese have the opportunity to travel to Japan in the September holidays. We will see many old temples and monuments, place cranes at Sadako’s memorial and live with a Japanese family. We are especially looking forward to seeing all the old temples and finally meeting our host families who we have been in contact with for the last few weeks. We hope to fully experience the cultural life and unique lifestyle of the Japanese people during our visit. Harrison Cook and Miya Tsurushima (Year 10) 

I have never left Australia before, which is why having the experience of going to Japan is going to be all the more exciting for me! I have an entire cocktail of emotions running through my head in the build up to my trip to Japan. Fear, anticipation, anxiousness, joy, gratitude and excitement!!! The thing I am most excited about is staying with another family for a sort time. It will be interesting living in another culture for a week, and trying new things! As a vegetarian, it will be interesting trying out some new Japanese vegetarian dishes, and tasting some of the incredible cuisine that they have to offer. I am so grateful for such an amazing opportunity that has been given to me, and I am so keen to put all of my Japanese skills to the ultimate test!! Evelyn Duthie (Year 11)

I’m looking forward to practicing my Japanese and improving my conversation skills. I can’t wait to see my mate Naoki again, whom I hosted back in July, and meet his family and see where and how he lives. It’s so great that we can host each other. Japan is an amazing place to visit and I am looking forward to seeing many interesting things there. It will be great to see some amazing cultural icons of Japan such as the ancient capital Kyoto. I’m so excited for this Wednesday when we will leave, and can’t wait to come home and tell everyone about this amazing experience. Aidan Brierley (Year 12)
It’s pretty scary to think that we will be in Japan in just a few days. I am really looking forward to trying all the new food and putting my Japanese skills to the test. I am very excited for the Karaoke night and going to all of the Japanese shrines. However, I am most excited to go our sister school and getting to see my host buddy again and meeting his family. I am looking forward to making a lot of fond memories with the other students going on the Japan tour. Cameron Greenaway (Year 10)
The trip to Japan this week will be my second tour through school to Japan. I chose to join the tour again because of the amount of joy it brought me last time, the amazing things I learnt, the people I met and a great love for Japan that was certainly fostered on my last tour. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Midori again, a past student teacher form Japan who I’ve shared a close bond with.  As well as this I can’t wait to get back to Hiroshima, especially as this year marks 70 years since the atomic bomb fell. Hiroshima is such a special place, it has been through so much turmoil but shows so much hope, growth and peace. A new place for me that we’re going to on the tour is the Tsukiji Fish markets. These are the largest fish markets in the world and are located within the megacity of Tokyo. This market handles over 2000 tons of marine products everyday. I can’t wait to get amongst the locals there and get a glimpse into an informal Japanese institution. Rhiannon Farr (Year 11)

Day 14

Today was our first day to have our plans affected by some rain, so we headed for indoors to start the day! Tokyo is one of the largest and by far one of the most amazing cities in the world. After visiting the Edo Tokyo museum dedicated to the progression of this astounding city, we learnt the history of Tokyo is as profound as it’s industry and population. Whilst the older aspects of Tokyo are interesting, to many, the most popular time in Tokyo history is that of the 30s to 40s. It was amazing to see how aspects of ancient life transcended into this time period with evidence of progressive change also. Then, knowing the culture of Australia in the 30s, it was both easy and enlightening to compare and contrast said countries.

After our trip to the museum we jumped on the train to Akihabara, which was a short two stops away. Akihabara is pretty much the Japanese home of electronics, manga and anime. After an exuberant lunch in a lovely building, we set out for our mega shopping trip, planning to meet at the local pharmacy after time for serious shopping! We had fun spending about an hour and a half running around, jumping in and out of stores, trying to find things we liked and avoiding things that were definitely not to our tastes. After having our adventure around Akihabara, we got together and discussed our separate purchases, before heading to the train bound for Shibuya.

When we arrived in Shibuya we were absolutely shocked on how packed the famous Hachiko’s crossing was to get to and from the train station. Before we headed across the crossing we stopped at Hachiko’s statue which has major significance to the city. The story of Hachiko is about a dog who waited at the train station everyday for his owner to come home, and one day this didn’t happen. The owner had died at work during the day. However, Hachiko still waited everyday for him to come home until he himself eventually died, 9 years after the owner passed away.

After weaving our way through the masses of people using this world famous crossing, we then went shopping in one of the streets around the city which was mainly based on fashion and only a few things, mainly shoes, were bought. After shopping we found a convenience store for dinner which would be our last “konbini” dinner for the trip. After our tummies were full everyone headed to the arcade to have an hour and half of fun. After much fun playing various games and taking many “purikura” we headed back to our hotel, taking in the night view of Tokyo Tower nearby, to start our packing for our homeward bound journey tomorrow.

Aussie

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Day 13

Today was a really relaxed day! We got up for breakfast at 8am and had one of two possible choices for breakfast- a western style or Japanese style breakfast. We left the hotel at 10am headed for Harajuku, and before arriving at the infamous shopping street Takeshita Dori, we visited Meiji Jingu Shrine. We have become so adept to the customs associated with visiting shrines that today we didn’t even need any reminders from Hyde Sensei. Whilst at the shrine we were fortunate to see many traditionally dressed men, women and children who were attending a wedding. We were all amazed at such a beautiful and tranquil place tucked away amongst one of the busiest and popular shopping precincts in all of Tokyo.

After visiting Meiji Jingu, much to our delight we finally made our way to Takeshita Dori. This long and narrow street was packed with thousands of people and a variety of small shop fronts offering items such as clothes, accessories, food and other various products that we’d never seen back home. We spent 2 hours walking the length of this road and visited many stores including the famous 4 storey ¥100 store. Once we had woven our way back to the exit of Takeshita Dori, we made other stops at Forever 21, ABC Mart and Nike. As the sun started to set we caught a train to Ikebukuro and visited the Sunshine 60 building observatory to enjoy the view of Tokyo at night. This sight was absolutely awesome!!!! Sunshine 60’s observation deck has an enclosed lower level and an upper open air “sky deck”, located on the top floor of the 240 meter tall Sunshine 60 skyscraper. It is 80m taller than the Eiffel Tower!

After soaking up the night view of Tokyo that stretched as far as the eye could see, we decided to eat sushi for dinner. Due to the menu being completely in Japanese and a few of us making some interesting choices, I myself, seemed to have ordered 72 sushi rolls!!! Luckily Aussie and Ryan ate half of them for me, so in the end I only had to eat 36 and they were small enough to still not be completely full. Ordering 72 sushi rolls was not intended at the beginning, but it happened and everyone got a good laugh from it in the end. The staff must of been wondering what was going on when we ordered 200+ sushi. Overall today was yet again another busy but extremely fun and exciting day!

Mickey

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