Videoblog filmed in Mito on the 27th of July 2017
Videoblog filmed in Mito on the 27th of July 2017
Today we went to the Tokai University. It is a huge place with many different things to offer, such as a swimming pool or an international café. After our arrival, we got three options – visit a mathematics lab in the university, go on a tour with students, or explore the place ourselves for about an hour. I walked around with a map and let my curiosity lead me. In Japan, there are many vending machines everywhere, and this university wasn’t an exception – you can easily get yourself something to drink or eat.
After exploring, we ate lunch at the school cafeteria and talked to the students. Some of them spoke English and some didn’t, but that wasn’t a problem since we found our way to joke and laugh together anyway. People there were very nice and excited. After finishing my lunch, I had a little bit of time left, so I looked around at the shops and what they had to offer. Not only you could buy new books for your subject, but also t-shirts saying “TOKAI UNIVERSITY <3 ". When everyone finished their lunch, we moved upstairs for some activities. We were welcomed by a big room with tables covered in paper. It got me interested - what are we going to do now? First, we learned about the 7th of July and it’s celebration in Japan. We could write our own wish to get the feeling of this special day called Tanabata. I still wondered why the tables were covered. Apparently, after writing our wish on a piece of paper, we were about to make our own fan! We got blank fans, pencils, and other things to decorate each in our own way. I must say, many people had creative ideas and executed them well, the fans were beautiful to look at. Everyone seemed very focused and happy. In my opinion, it was something that could bring us all a little bit more together, everyone started complimenting each other’s skills and there was no one who thought something was ugly. Some people got time to decorate even two fans!
After finishing the previous activity, we got divided into seven groups where each group tried a different Japanese game, and we rotated around so everyone could try everything. My group first played a Japanese card game called karuta. It got very competitive very fast. It was about getting as many cards as possible by touching the right card with the correct syllable on it. After playing a short turn of it, we moved to the next point – Japanese calligraphy. It seemed easy but to get a pretty outcome, you need to practice a lot. We all tried writing our own word – mine was yume, which means dream in Japanese. After that we could try cutting shapes with a pin. You need to be precise and steady. I gave up after a while of failing. These three activities were in the first room.
In the second room, we could use chopsticks as a gun, or play with spinning tops (which is a mascot for this city as well). I don’t know how these kids are able to play with that, it’s so hard to spin it and control where it goes. We could also catch our own yoyo balloon from water and try Japanese sweets. It was a very fun day, I am especially glad for being able to interact with local students. Some of the conversations were very funny and interesting.
Adriana Misztowt (Norway)
Today was the first activity day of a new city, Isehara, which I also happened to be the city runner of! So, definitely no extra stress for me there, none whatsoever! My host family happened to live just 100 meters from Oyama elementary school, which we would visit in the morning, so instead of going 15 km the wrong way just to come back I walked straight to the school. I was earlier than the rest of the group, so I had time to talk with the principal before the activities.
I have to say, I was really nervous having my first proper morning meeting after 1st Session, and I’m sure it showed. But the group is very diligent and hardworking, so we survived and headed out for the activities with the kids. We would interact with the kids, signing dozens of forms accommodated with the ever-repeating cycle of “Hello! My name is _ What’s your name? Nice to meet you!” until we became deaf to the words we spoke. It was fun though, and the kids were really cute. Also, by my experience with Japanese elementary school kids their English was really good. Afterwards we tried to play a traditional game with spinning tops, at which I failed spectacularly, for the second year in a row. At least no-one but me was hurt. Anyways. Finally, we got kanji for our names from the fifth and sixth graders and then tried to write them ourselves. I was dubbed “the friend in heavens”. Charming, although could be interpreted as somewhat sad as well.
After the school visit we had a delicious lunch of tofu in various forms. The lunch charged our batteries enough so that we were ready to tackle the final challenge of the day, climbing Mt. Oyama! We put on traditional pilgrim clothes and climbed the approach to the cable car station. When we reached the station, however, the dark, rainy clouds of doubt descended upon us, quite literally. Luckily though, the LOC were not shaken by small drizzle and we continued up the endless steps along the mountainside. Halfway up the mountain the rain got worse and towards the end we were running up waterfalls. Also, who had the great idea of making a hiking trail that consists of 97% stairs? In any case, we made our way to the top, drenched, exhausted and with a lifelong hatred of stairs, but happy at our achievement.
We had some time to gather our thoughts and change before we were given a tour of the shrine. We learned a lot of interesting things about the shrine, Oyama, connection between Shinto gods and Pokemon, and much more. It was a great ending to this very active day.
Juuso Myller (Finland)
Videoblog filmed in Uda on the 12th of July 2017.
Today we visited a sake factory and learned about the process of making sake. It was very informative and intimate, as the factory itself was quite small. After watching a video clip on the process of sake making, we went to see the storage rooms where sake was fermented. Unfortunately, it is the wrong season for sake making so we didn’t get to see it actually been made. We did, however get the opportunity to buy some sake from the gift shop.
Later on we went to the Akame waterfalls where we were given a tasty lunch by the park owner. We got to learn about the Japanese giant salamander and some people actually got to touch a salamander. We learnt that the salamander is protected here in Japan.
I then went on the ninja training course where I learnt how to blow darts, throw shuriken and do a ninja assault course – which I proudly completed. The thing I enjoyed the most was dressing up as a ninja, it made the whole experience so much more special. Finally, we all took turns to cross a river, ninja style… Many of us fell in and it was really nice to laugh and have fun with everyone. I fell in on my first try but mastered the course on the second time.
After the training, I went with a small group to see the waterfalls. They were really beautiful and serene and I could see why the ninjas chose such a place to train back in the day. I wish we had time to see more of the waterfalls, as there were dozens of them in total! But, I managed to get some good photos before it started to rain.
In the evening, we had a pot luck party and the food was, as usual, amazing! We drank sake and interacted with the families which was really fun. I was sad that it ended so quickly.
Ceara Best (UK)