We departed, a very excited group, from Sydney on 19 September after a rigorous last day of Term 3. The airport was crowded with groups like ours departing for holiday adventures, so after a quick goodbye to our parents, we moved off to the departure gate. Our ten hour flight was spent eating, watching TV and supposedly sleeping.
We arrived in Tokyo feeling not so refreshed, but very excited. Staff and students were greeted at the front of Omiya Kita High School on their arrival at lunchtime on Saturday and then introduced to their hosts. Everyone was excited about the experience and the students seemed to greet each other like old friends, partly because they had made e-mail contact prior to the visit and partly because they had made close relationships with the students during their visit to Albion Park High.
Omiya Kita High School held a special assembly on Monday to welcome the visitors from our sister school, with Ms Mayumi Hosoda, Principal, giving a short speech of welcome to the staff and students of Albion Park High School. The Omiya Kita student leaders then introduced our students to the school and they gave a short self-introduction to the whole school in Japanese, the staff and students of Omiya Kita High were very gracious and polite at our fumbling attempts of Japanese.
The timetable for the students this year was very busy with many programs and special lessons offered, demonstrating a wide variety of subjects from across the school, including Karate, Art, Science, Food Technology, English and Japanese Culture. The students and staff were treated to lessons on the Tea Ceremony and Kendo and many other cultural lessons.
This year the students were involved in two excursions from the school, the first being a visit to the Railway Museum at Omiya. The students found this particularly interesting because of the great use of the railway as a form of transportation in Japan. They enjoyed this excursion very much as it gave them an opportunity to learn the history and development of the railway, as well as to see and explore the different types of trains that are in use today.
The second excursion the students were treated to was a visit to the Edo museum and the Asakusa area. Originally the day trip was to include a trip to the Tokyo Sky Tree, but because of an incoming typhoon, the venue was closed for safety. The Omiya Kita teachers and students were upset that we did not get to experience this, but the students of Albion Park High were very happy with the alternative arrangements that were made to visit the Edo museum instead.
We boarded a coach for Tokyo at 7:30am and arrived by 10am. The students were given their tickets for entry and after posing for group photographs the students divided into small groups to explore the museum. The students were very pleased with the interactive displays and the English explanations of
the history of Tokyo. Following this, we journeyed to the Asakusa area and the students were given instructions on where they could explore and eat their lunch. The students divided into small groups and journeyed and explored together. The Albion Park High students especially loved visiting the street with
the plastic food. We boarded the coach at 3:30pm and returned to school.
On our final day at Omiya Kita High School, a farewell party was hosted and this gave the Albion Park
students an opportunity to introduce their host families to their teachers and thank them publicly for all of the opportunities and fun that had been offered to them over their homestay.
On Saturday the staff and students from Omiya Kita High School met the Albion Park students and
teachers at the Omiya Station to farewell them as they continued their journey around Japan. It was a very emotional goodbye, with lots of tears and photos to commemorate a successful visit.
We spent five hours on bullet trains on Saturday.
They were so clean and spacious and we enjoyed them very much. We arrived in Hiroshima excited for
the adventures ahead. Hiroshima Peace Park is a tranquil, serene and emotional place that holds the memories of a terrible tragedy. We hung our 1000 paper cranes (thank you to all who contributed) at the Sadako Children's Memorial. We heard the bell toll, signifying the moment the bomb was dropped. We explored in the museum, we listened to the stories of survivors. The most valuable part of this place, is the lessons we learnt and the changes we want to make to the world.
From Hiroshima we travelled to Kyoto then on to Osaka, each with wonderful stories and adventures of
their own. The students will elaborate on these adventures in their newsletter pieces.
Overall, our cultural exchange was a great success, and we consider ourselves very fortunate to be
included in the exchange.
Miss Poole, Mrs Joynson, Mrs Murkeji and Ms Clapham.
The best part about our trip to Japan was the very different culture between Japan and Australia. I
enjoyed learning about the people, houses, family, food and school system. It was all very different and
interesting. I would recommend either travelling to Japan or hosting a student. It was all very enjoyable.