Tag Archives: Isehara

Thank you Isehara: Final goodbye of session 2 with a bang (of taiko drums)

Learning to play taiko drums in Isehara
Learning to play taiko drums in Isehara

I woke up this morning at 7 AM. As usual, I took my clothes I had prepared the night before and went downstairs to greet my family. Afterwards, I took a shower, where I was surprised to see that there was no hot water. So an awkward moment arose as I had to ask my host sister to turn on the hot water. She came in to help while I was standing in the corner butt naked. After finally being able to take a shower and get dressed, I headed to the living room, where breakfast was waiting for me.

At 9 AM, the participants, including me, had our daily morning meeting. After the meeting we went to a room where a lot of taiko drums were spread around the room. A Japanese man greeted us and invited us to take seat next to a drum on tatami mat. He showed us how to use the drumsticks and taught us a very easy rhythm that we played together. And that was how our taiko lesson started. After a while we all got the hang of the piece we would play at the Arigato Event that would take place later that day. The taiko teacher taught us a few more songs that were more difficult, so difficult that I couldn’t do it properly. At 11.30 the taiko session was over and we moved on to the next activity, which was cooking.

We met up with many elderly people with cute aprons and were also asked to wear an apron and a bandana. Although it was a cooking class, we didn’t actually cook. We made our own wagashi, Japanese sweets, that are eaten during a tea ceremony. The chef demonstrated how to make two different sweets and we made them to the best of our ability. I thought it was easy at first because the chef made them without any effort but I was wrong. Mine turned out pretty bad. Some were so ugly that I couldn’t say that I was proud with what I had made. I wish to try it again in the future.

After we were done, the cute ladies in cute aprons prepared us curry that was delicious. We and the Japanese people sat down and ate our bellies full. We could eat our own wagashi as dessert, or we had the choice to keep them for later. After that we had our session wrap up. We talked about our favorite moments and wrote a review about World Campus. I also received a very official World Campus International Certificate of Completion, which I’m actually very happy about.

Later we had the rehearsal for the Arigato Event. Even though we had done it many times before, there were still some minor changes. I already knew what was going on so it was a bit repetitive. Finally, at 6 PM, it was time for the show our families had been waiting, and it was a great success!! The families brought food so we could have a potluck party afterwards. However, we also had our taiko performance after the potluck party. After that it was one last group picture and the day was over. Finally, at home another participant, Jules, joined my family for fireworks. A perfect finish for the day!

Sarah Lennaux (Belgium)

Handmade chopsticks and making new friends

Celine and friends chatting with students in Isehara
Celine and friends chatting with students in Isehara

I woke up around 6am today after having a good night at my 3rd host family’s house. I slept in my host sister’s room on the 2nd floor. For breakfast I had a salad and toast with cheese, and as a kind of dessert I ate a sour plum. We had a lot of fun trying to catch their squirrel that they released from its cage earlier that morning. In the end, we caught him and gave him some sunflower seeds once he had returned to his cage.

My host mom first took my host sister, Haruna, to her school and then drove me to the Sanno University where our first activities of the day would start. I was the first one to arrive (around 8:30am) and waited in a classroom on the 2nd floor. When the other World Campus members arrived as well, we had a short briefing about today’s schedule and an introduction of the LOC’s of Isehara. We joined the University’s English class around 9:30am and introduced ourselves. The students tried their best to introduce themselves in English as well as share some of their hobbies. I talked to 4 students, named Yuuki, Tomoya, Kouya and Teruyoshi. They were either 18 or 19 years old and all 4 of them liked sports a lot.

After talking to the students for a little over an hour, we went to the library where we then talked to more students. Some of my Belgian friends and I talked to a student named Ryo. We tried our best Japanese to interact with him and become friends! Afterwards we went to a special section of the library that exhibited old photographs made by the Japanese photographer Uyeno. We viewed one of his most famous photographs of a man named Sakamoto. After looking around and taking a look in some books with more photographs, we went to the cafeteria to have lunch. I ate udon with vegetable tempura, which I both like a lot. It was really good!

Before leaving we took a group picture together outside and then moved on to the next location which was at a carpenter’s place (Kawado). We learned how to make wooden chopsticks there, within 2 hours! The wood we used is also used to make Japanese houses, which I find very interesting. We were taught that we should use wood well and never waste any of it. After shaping the chopsticks with sandpaper, we wrote or drew something on them with paint. It was a fun experience even though it was extremely hot. While we were sweating like crazy, we at least ended up with one-of-a-kind chopsticks!

Next we traveled to the city hall of Isehara. After changing into fresh and more decent clothes, we met with the major. He was very friendly and was willing to answer all questions that we might have. After having a nice conversation about what it’s like to be the major of a beautiful city like Isehara, we thanked him and took a group picture together.

My host mom picked me up around 5:30pm and took me home to get ready for bowling! My host brother, Haruto, invited 2 of his friends from school to join us. It was a lot of fun! We laughed a lot and they really liked practicing their English when talking to me. Afterwards we went out to eat pasta and pizza at an Italian restaurant. We continued our conversation about differences between our countries there and were slowly ready to go back home.

It was a really nice day of meeting new people and experiencing new things. I hope there are many more days like these to come!

Celine Dewit (Belgium)

Maids in Akihabara! Isehara personal day

Today (20th of July) was a personal day! And if you live in Isehara for a week, it most probably means a trip to Tokyo. And that is what I did. And my plan was, of course, Akihabara!

So, after being awaken by my lovely host sister and having a delicious breakfast, I was delivered to the Isehara station. The train was not that difficult to understand as I thought it would be. If you know the line, station and you know how to read (romaji) then there’s no problem. You just need to figure out how to get to a different line at Shinjuku.

Anyway, after arriving at Akihabara the atmosphere hit me hard. That district is like another world. You never pass by a silent or calm place. There’s always music playing. Suddenly I was surprised to see so many foreigners. After two weeks in Japan, seeing a foreigner who is not part of the World Campus is kind of odd.

The first stop was a Maid Cafe. What amazed me the most was that one of the maids could actually speak a tiny bit of my language. But, of course, the kawaii food and drinks and moe moe kyun mantras (the food and drinks taste better if you say it, apparently) were amusing too. I even saw a pretty interesting live show of five maids dancing and singing. One of the World Campus Japan participants I was there together with seemed to be really into it. That might have been the most amusing part of the day. After that I was just exploring the strange streets, buying some manga and surprisingly even some clothes. It was fun but also kind of tiring.

After safely getting back to Isehara station, my host family picked me up and we drove to a baseball practice place. One of my host sisters is a baseball player and it was really exciting to see the kids in their game uniforms.

Next was the supermarket. That is always a fun thing to do in Japan, because you can see how much products you DON’T have in your own country. And thanks to that Mama wasn’t at home in the evening, we got to have ramen! It was actually my first time trying it. When we got home I helped prepare the ramen. And that bowl of soup and noodles is juuust delicious! I can’t even believe how responsible my 15-year old host sister is. I feel like a princess.

The day was fun. Every day at World Campus Japan is fun for me. But I am tired and I miss the rest of the people in the program! I wanna go to sleep so that I can see them soon.

Helena Raichartová (Czech Republic)

University student interaction at Tokai University in summer 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)

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)