After a quick breakfast my host mother drove me to the meeting point for the day, at JR Suita station. When everybody arrived, except poor Paul who would arrive an hour late due to struggling with the public transport in Suita as usual, we went over the details for the day and an excited group was heading to Kinrosha Kaikan. This was the place where we would spend most of the day, at a culture fare prepared specifically for World Campus and the community of Suita. And we had all the reason to be excited, as I think this day overwhelmed anybody’s expectation.
We were welcomed by the group who was organizing the fare. They are a diverse group of people who try to keep traditional Japanese culture alive, such as traditional games, instruments, theater, tea ceremony among other things. After their success with the cultural fare for us last year, they are now determined to keep the tradition going with the second fare. And I am happy that they do, because this was certainly the highlight of the stay in Suita.
Following the welcome ceremony, we were divided into groups of three participants and three Japanese volunteer students. My group first went to get dressed in yukatas, traditional Japanese garments, before going to sing karaoke. I really enjoyed the karaoke, as we first sang my favorite karaoke song, Bohemian Rhapsody. But even better was our final song Ue O Muite Aruko (better known as Sukiyaki in the west) since the Japanese people were all joining, and I am familiar with the song from previously participating in the World Campus program.
We then got to try to perform some traditional Japanese theater that uses katanas and really precise choreography. It was really fun to try because we had already seen these people perform during the opening ceremony and finding out how hard it really was made me respect them even more. It was indeed incredibly hard, but very satisfying when I (almost) made it.
After changing back to our regular clothes we had lunch at a nearby restaurant. We had two of Osaka’s specialities, okonomiyaki and yakisoba. It also happens to be two of my favorites. We then tried a lot more activities, including bonsai three trimming, playing koto (a harp-like instrument) and drinking maccha tea., but I will not elaborate for the sake of brevity.
Half of the groups, including mine, stayed behind after the event to help clean up. Due to our collected effort, the cleaning went by in a blink, so we had time to get some ice cream and visit some shops nearby. We then got picked up by our host families, and the rest of the day was a blast with them as usual.