Category Archives: City Life

Exploring the coal mine history of Omuta

Thomas and his host family
Thomas and his host family

Our Host Family day was packed full with many different activities instead of just one big event! I was hoping to take it easy on the Host Family day but we had a schedule to keep so there really was no time to rest. My Host mother is a real movie enthusiast and she wanted us to go to the movie theater! It was a different experience because the movie started at 9:30 in the morning and I was very surprised to see so many people there. Especially because in Sweden we do not go to the movies that early, it is more of an afternoon and evening event. After the movie ended we went to the Omuta Coal Museum!

The Coal Museum was a very small but interesting museum. My Host mother wanted us to go there because of the Coal Mine History the city had. Even though it was small I still learned a lot from the information texts and the models were good representations of how it used to look like. In the end I learned something new about the city and the coal mine industry. Close to the museum we ate our lunch at a Ramen place.

Before heading to our next activity with my Host Family’s friends we went into one of the malls in Omuta. They wanted to buy me a gift and we went around the mall looking for something that I would want. However, we did not find anything interesting so we decided to go to another mall the next day.

After a quick rest we went to the Bowling center where we played three games with their friends. My Host mother and Host father are Bowling experts so of course they crushed me and got way better results. It was a lot of fun and we cheered on each other. I would like to add that if you ever go Bowling in Japan, look up your japanese shoe size so that you don’t have to try a lot of shoes to see which one fits. It did this mistake unfortunately.

We ended the Host Family Day with a nice dinner with their friends at the Suchi bar that was nearby. As always we had a lot of fun and the food was amazing. I enjoyed our day together and I have learned so much.

Thomas Jinton
Sweden

A Day of Photos, Games, and Fun

Old shopping street in Omuta
Old shopping street in Omuta

I woke up this morning much earlier than I had wanted to, but no matter how hard I tried to sleep again, the bright sunlight outside greeted me and told me to get up. With another two hours until breakfast, I slowly prepared for the day: getting dressed, organizing my things, and learning another few Japanese words that I would soon forget. Just before breakfast, I walked into the dining room to be greeted by sleepy Otoha, my 7-year-old host sister. After a late breakfast of eggs, miso soup, and rice, it was time to start my day with World Campus – Japan.

We gathered at Eruru around 9 and after a short briefing about the upcoming event, we were off to the shopping street to set up for the fair. There were over a dozen high schoolers from the area that were there to help out and we all introduced ourselves before getting started. Of course, I forgot all of their names right after they said them. Paul (China), Jean-Michel (Luxembourg), and I were on yo-yo duty first. They arranged for half of us to have lunch from 11:15 to 11:30, while the other half stayed at the fair and had lunch from 11:35-11:50, but that definitely didn’t go as planned. I was in the first group for lunch but when we got there, we waited for our sandwiches and onigiri until 11:35 and so we had to bring the other group their food instead. But the onigiri was really good, so I’d say it was worth the wait.

After lunch, we moved to the photo booth, where we took pictures with all of the cute children that came. They also had mochitsuki, which is where rice is pounded to make mochi, which we all got to do. They told us to use it as a way to express our anger. I got to taste some of the mochi and it was very chewy, almost a gum-like consistency. In America, they fill the mochi with ice cream, but these were equally as good. My group was supposed to be on drink duty at the end, but no one was really buying drinks anymore, so we played ring toss with some of the other WC members. I haven’t laughed that much in awhile.

Sadly, around 2 pm, it was time to clean up. Shortly after, we had a guest speaker from Wales who came to talk to us about working in Japan. Almost half of the WCJ members were interested in moving to Japan to work. I was not one of them. Still, the presentation was very interesting, especially because he chose a different work route, rather than the usual English teacher. Once the presentation was over and we said goodbye to our speaker, the WCJ staff made some final announcements before the end of the day.

My host family picked me up and took me to see their grandparents who lived right next door. Of course, I had no idea what they were saying since my knowledge of Japanese is very basic. All I understood was when they asked me if I liked cats. From there, we walked home. Otoha fell asleep on the floor, my host mom went to take the dogs for a walk and my host dad came home. I hadn’t met him yet because he was out of town, so I did today. He speaks little to no English, which is hard for me since I speak and understand about the same amount of Japanese but we were able to communicate because Michael Jordan, a famous basketball player from America, came on TV. We finished the evening with oden and a few rounds of card games before heading our separate ways for bed.

Heidi Mencl
America

Nagasaki: talks about peace and nuclear weapons

Posing in front of the peace statue
Posing in front of the peace statue

Today we went to Nagasaki where we then visited the Peace-Museum. At about 8:30 in the morning near the Omura station, we waited for everyone to arrive. Soon after, we all boarded the train to Nagasaki. The ride took about one hour but the time flew when we were talking to each other and planning what we were doing during the free time this afternoon.

At the Nagasaki Station we all got our day-passes for the tram and then proceeded in direction of the Peace-Museum. It went a little uphill until we arrived there. After a quick explanation we then entered the museum. Greeted by stones and wall pieces where we listened to the televisions showing different kinds of documentations from the day the atomic bomb fell on Nagasaki. After our little tour seeing all the sad, interesting things we then met an atomic bomb survivor who was telling us about his experience on said day.

After the speech we gave him of course a Thank you card and then left the museum. Hungry, we went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch, afterwards we made our way to the peace garden by tram and then by foot. Taking a group photo in front of the “Peace-statue”. A few stairs even higher we visited an old school that had a strong history connecting it with the atomic bomb.

The afternoon came and we had our 3 hours of free time. People continued by going to the places they wanted to see and/or by shopping in the station mall. I went for small shopping tour followed by drinking something in that hot weather and then going to the Shiru Shrine with a small group.

At 18:00 free-time was over and we were all meeting again in front of the station. 20 minutes after, our train left with another hour back to Omura, where we had a quick wrap-up and then returned to our host-families.

Jean-Michel Vandervoeren
Luxembourg

The special kid finally hit the balloon with his Kyudo bow

Henry shooting with Kyudo bow in Omura
Henry shooting with Kyudo bow in Omura

Nijinohara Special Education school. It has been two years since I came here. Such a familiar and nostalgic place now. Coming here was as exciting as last time.

The day started with us being given an introductory lecture of the school and it’s branching schools. After some questions and instructions, we went out and did some fun activities with the kids. I remember last time, Jana, a chancellor at the time led a game called álele with the us all. This time around, it was Thomas. He was very good at leading the game, and the kids loved it!

For the rest of the day, we were divided into groups and participated in different activities and lessons with the children. I got to participate in an English class with Louise from Sweden, Paul from the states, Jean-Michael from Luxemburg, and Yunzhi from China (same as me btw). We spend our time with playing some rather bizarre but fun games involving English words, and being interviewed by the kids.

During the afternoon, we went to the Kyudo Dojo in this town. Kyudo is a form of Archery that is unique to Japan. Not only does it emphasis a lot of archery, it also emphasis on form.

After being taught the forms in Kyudo through a sling-like thing, we were given the opportunity to try at a real bow. Not only were the bows pretty heavy to pull, they were huge too. For me at least, the forms and technique we learned were really helpful. We were given some target balloons we were to hit with the arrows. Those that hit at least one balloon were given some snacks as a prize.

Last time I was participating in this program, I didn’t manage to hit any balloons. This time around, I managed to hit one! I wasn’t alone in hitting at least one balloon. At least all of Chinese participants in this session hitted at least one. I decided to try out on the real target that was a little bit further away than the balloons once I hitted a balloon.

At the end of the day, some people participated in a Kendo experience. I decided not to take part in the kendo activity since I was quite tired and I had a light case of headache. I don’t know how, maybe it is because I didn’t drink enough water for the day. Maybe….

By the time dinner was served, the headaches were mosly gone. The dinner for today was Japanese Curry with rice, It’s a cuisine made of Japanese curry paste, often with some beef, potatoes, and carrot, almost like the european gulasch. It is quite popular among kids here in Japan. We sat around a small table in front of the TV while eating. I usually ate together with my host brother, Shingo. The rest of the family joins in a little later.

We spent the rest of the evening small talking while watching TV. Since this is the first time the Miyamoto family were being a host family in WCI, they have not been in a single Arigato Event before. As thus, they were pretty excited about it. The Nagasaki Arigato event is in my most humble opinion the best of those I’ve been apart of. At least it was so the last time. I really hope they will enjoy the event. ‘I’m gonna make sure the event will be successful’ were the last words I thought to myself as I went to bed.

Henry Yang
China

Spreading Our World Campus

Daniel studying an edo period book on horticulture in Keisen university
Daniel studying an edo period book on horticulture in Keisen university

I woke up at about 7:30 this morning to eat a bowl of oatmeal with yogurt and grapes with my host mother, Tomi, and brother, Hotaru (A meal pretty typical for me in America). However, it would differ when I left with my mother to the Keisen University in rainy weather due to a typhoon approaching.

We were told the day prior that this was an all-female Christian university where we would get to meet with the students, learn some history about their school, and discuss world topics. I have to admit, it was actually pretty fun! We had around six or seven students from the university who joined us during the day there and show us around.

We first went to the chapel and learn the history of the school along with a beautiful piece played by an organ player at the school (I still can’t believe she said she spends up to eight hours practicing before a performance!) Afterwards, we went to the university’s library where they had a dedicated memorial to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They kept many books and articles showcasing the first-hand experience the victims had.

Even by the time it was 11:00, the rain was still trickling outside. That didn’t stop us from being shown the herb garden the university tends to. They even made herbal water from the garden for us to drink while we discussed world affairs with the students. Even though all of us in World Campus Japan comes from different countries, us and the students all had meaningful discussions on our views of immigration, global warming, taxes, and what it means to have world peace.

I believe we ate lunch at around 12:00 in the university’s cafeteria with the other students. I just ordered a bowl of miso soup. After getting to talk to the students a bit more, we headed to the Nagayama Community Center where we would be showing Tama what it means to be a part of World Campus Japan.

For about two and a half hours, World Campus members from their respective countries made a presentation from the day before showing the great things from their countries that they wanted others to know about. Locals from Tama were invited to come to the center to view our presentations and learn more about all of our countries. With my partner, Sydney, we wanted to show how large the United States truly is and how diverse the culture is when it comes to its food, climate, and sports. We were also chosen as one of the four countries to do a dance for the locals (The others being Finland, Netherlands, and Norway). This turned out to be a cultural lesson for me too as we decided to do the chicken dance which I haven’t done in years! Thankfully, the dance is fairly simple.

Unfortunately, Sydney had become ill over the past few days and had to rest today. In other words, I and two of the Japanese students got on stage in the spotlight and taught an audience of about 100 adults and children how to shake their feathers and dance like a chicken (It looks better in person, I promise).

Although the event was long, I got to talk with so many locals and learn more about their life and their experience with America. Even better, I felt good being able to share my culture with so many locals. I can just feel that all of us today made an impact on the community with the event.

Once we wrapped up our end-of-the-day discussion at 17:00, my mother and brother came to pick me up. I got to meet some of my brother’s friends (Who all happen to be 7 years old) and we went back to our apartment. We ate a kind of curry with mushrooms and rice, beef, grapes, and corn. My brother was dying to play the Wii with me after I promised to play earlier. If there’s one thing my brother has taught me, it’s that I should really try to get better at skiing in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. I still have no clue how he had more than double my score.

We finished the night with my dad getting home and joining in on the game. I’m going to bed earlier since tomorrow is the Arigato Event and I want to have enough energy to dance for my host family. I had never done a presentation like the one today before, but I have to say that I’m glad I did. Maybe we even encouraged people to apply for World Campus to Norway and Finland!

Daniel Busch (The United States of America)