Tag Archives: Japanese food

Climbing in the rain

Group picture by Oyama shrine with water evaporating from the shrine roof
Group picture by Oyama shrine with water evaporating from the shrine roof

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)

Visiting a sake factory, Akame watefalls including a ninja training

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)

Shopping districts of Suita

Today some of us got to go to the JR Suita shopping district. Our mission was to evaluate what we like about the place, and how it could be improved in order to revitalize it, since the shopping district is in a declining state and needs help to get back on its feet.

We visited two craft shops (Terubonoya and PaoPao), a comic store (Kitamoto), a tofu shop (Kurata-syokuhin), an optician (Vision-Megane) and an okonomiyaki shop (Oishinbo). After the tour, we got together to try out some Japanese foods (including natto, tofu, umeboshi, takoyaki and okonomiyaki) and talked about what we thought about what we saw. We were also asked to write down our comments and ideas to improve the shopping district.

Visiting a traditional Japanese shopping district was very interesting, since in Finland we mostly just have malls. The staff in each store were very friendly and it was amazing to see the craft masters work on their products, since usually you never meet the people who make the product you’re buying. The food was delicious, especially tofu donuts and okonomiyaki, and the staff had a great time watching us eat the different foods.

It was a lot of fun to take part in the improvement of an area. Together as a group we came up with many ideas, such as clearer maps and trails to make it easier and more interesting to explore, decorations to make it more pleasing to the eye, and utilization of social media in advertising. I hope our ideas will really help them out and that in the future it becomes a flourishing shopping district once again!

A big thank you to Suita shopping district staff for letting us take part in this experience!

Veera Hasala (Finland)

Job experience and bon dancing in Suita

In the morning, we had a nice meeting where the counselors explained everything that was going to happen today. After the meeting, we were out in our scheduled groups and left to our shops. Our group would be helping out in Senri temple. The people working there were so nice; the first thing we did was drinking matcha tea and seeing a beautiful tea ceremony. Because of the matcha’s bitterness we also got a red bean paste cake filled with mochi.

After that we sang a song and they explained how Buddhism came to Japan from India. After a while we had to say our goodbyes and go back to the Senriyama community center. There we got a nice lunch from the kitchen staff. They’re so nice to talk to. While we were eating, Yui, from the local organizing committee, who does some of the activities with us explained what was going to happen in Kansai University. Not only did we get a tour of the University that explained where everything is located, we also went to their little museum and got to play games with the students there.

After all these fun events, we still had one thing planned: a bon dance practice at Senri temple. There we got to see how a summer festival works. We got to write a wish and hang it on a bamboo tree. The bon dancing we were taught was really tiresome but super fun. So, to give us some energy we ate some shaved ice and watermelon! It was such a fun day.

Samantha Bressinck (Belgium)

Curry and Arigato Event in Omuta

Lunch break and relaxing with the two Colombians and Isak
Lunch break and relaxing with the two Colombians and Isak

Japanese people have something with the food. When they know I am from Colombia, the first thing they would ask is “what are some Colombian food?” or “what’s your favorite Japanese food?” Afterward, the question would probably be “where is Colombia?”

Today, 30th of July, we’ve got the challenge to actually cook our food, and not just eat Japanese food. Our task was to make Japanese style curry. Got to say I was worried about it… it wouldn’t be nice to end up with no lunch because we messed it up. But we made it!

Some curry, lots of rice, salad, that is never forgotten here, and some sweets, such as pancakes which were my favorite. The curry was amazingly good! I am still having trouble believing we did it. It is not complicated, just needs patience.

After lunch, we had a proper break as we hadn’t had one since day one in World Campus – Japan. Back then the staff were soft to us, because after that, the breaks became 5-minute breaks for the bathroom and drinking water, max 10. Too many things to do, no time to lose. Plus, we really needed it because the tiredness has accumulated from these 2 weeks, almost 3, and there are even some sick people among us… nothing to worry though.

Finally, we had to get ready for Arigato Event. Though my friend Natalia, the other Colombian girl, was feeling sick in the afternoon, she was better for the actual event! I was so relieved she didn’t have something serious.

Got to say, from the bottom of my heart, that I was so nostalgic and sentimental at the time someone made me realized that it was the last Arigato Event for session one, and the last for me in total. It has been amazing and unbelievable, this journey with World Campus International, and I am at days of the final goodbye! Feeling part of a group, a place where to feel comfortable, is something I really appreciate because I am not good at integrating. And this feeling was strong and alive in all time around Arigato Event. I am so glad and proud to be able to say I made amazing friends.

Nicole Rosario (Colombia)