Day of activity: July 22nd 2014
Today started with a lecture about nara prefecture and Uda city by former school teacher Mr. Matsumoto. He taught us about the history of the region according to the kojiki, the oldest history book of Japan, compiled in the year 712. At the time, people did not have a concept of Hokkaidou, so nara was seen as the center of Japan. The first emperor made a pilgrimage to Nara to stop the fighting in the country.
Afterwards, we went to Kaedo no Sato, a garden and research facility with over 1200 species of maple in its garden. Its mission is to develop new species of maple which can withstand global warming. I had no idea the “maple” family had so many subspecies, with such a variety of leaf shapes and colors. The chief of the facility guided us around and explained the different species to us. We then received a lecture about leather imprinting. All in all it was a fun day and I learned a lot about maple trees.
Espen (Norway) & Amalie (Denmark)
Day of activity: July 24th 2014
On host family day, my host family took Pauline and me to toudai-ji temple. We feed the deer, which I thought would be cute but it was actually a little scary! They were really eager and even a bit a hole in Paulines shirt!
The temple was very beautiful. After that, we went to Kowfuku-ji pawillion and to the small shopping streets near it. Pauline and I had our first glimpse of Daiso, the supermarket. Everything was so cheap!
After eating lunch (and getting doughnuts), we headed off to do some goldfish scooping. I got 16 and Pauline got 18. Afterwards we went to a traditional fabric dyeing shop and made our own handkerchiefs. It was a really fun-filled day and I’m really grateful that we got to experience it all!
Day of activity: July 13th 2014
Yes finally! It’s personal day! There is so many things that I wanted to do in Japan, but so little time to do so. In the end I decided to go to Universal Studio in Osaka. One of the reasons is because some of my friends happend to be in Osaka at the moment and also because a new area has just opened.
After we got inside the park, the boys and girls went separate ways. The guys probably went on all the rides, while the girls went shopping and taking pictures. Around noon, we meet up at the entrance of the new area.
We were amazed as Hogwarts came into our view from a far. Yes, you heard it right. I said Hogwarts. When we reached the end of our path, there it was … Hogsmead. It was crowded everywhere, and the waiting lines were really long. Soon after we got inside we lost the guys again. We spent more than 4 hours in that place. Everything was really well made, just like in the movies.
I drank butterbeer and pumpkin juice. It was really fun and I also got to spent a lot of money. I also got sunburned but it was totaly worth it;)
Day of activity: July 13th 2014
Yay! Today we have a whole day to spend for ourselves. I decided to join some people on their shopping trip to Kyoto. We meet at Awaji station at 8:00 in the morning and arrived at the culture city of Japan at 9:00. Macha shops, a temple and some small sweetshops passed us by before we arrived at the shopping street. We went to the magnificent Ghibli store and took a picture with the giant Totoro plushie there.
We visited some really nice authentic shops. Chopsticks, fans, keychains, ribbons, t-shirts, statues and a lot of matcha goodies were available all around. I bought a nice yukata, which I will wear at the the ceremony in Uda, Nara.
My feet were burning a nd aching, but it was well worth it!
Mariska (The Netherlands)
Day of activity: July 17th 2014
Today we meet at the community center and meet some lovely locals there. We got to know each other better through questionaire and talked to the volunteers who were to make okonomiyaki with us. We were divided into 5 groups and settled at a baking station. Soon after the baking plates were on and special pancakes made of cabbage, dough, corn, bacon and other ingredienses were cooking, which produced a lovely aroma that filled the room.
After the Okonomiyaki was done we got to eat it as our lunch and it was delicious! After ending this wonderful meal we all got the recipe so I will definately try to make it at home!
We also went to visit a peace museum and wathed a short animated movie about the Hiroshima bombing. The movie was shown from a child’s perspective, which was so sad that in the end I shed a tear. It was so sad to see the loneliness and panic. After the movie was over, the movie producer Mr. Maeda answered any questions we had about the movie and it’s connection to the A-bombing.
Then we went to the Asahi beer factory where we had a tour. The tour itself did not contain much new information for me, but the walking did keep me vivid. I am not fond of beer but I tried some after the tour which ended with a short video. During the time we had to drink beer I shifted from beer to juice because I did not like it.
Before we went back we had a group photo taken. Then walked to the station. Another fun and interesting day came to an end.
Mariska (the Netherlands)