We started our 19-day trip, in Tokyo. After a 10 hour flight, we arrived at Narita Airport. Too tired to really do anything, our first dinner in Japan was from 7-Eleven. Cheap, but tasty. During our stay in Tokyo, we stayed in a traditional style Japanese Inn called a ‘Ryokan’, where all the students could experience onsen and traditional style rooms. Our second day in Tokyo, we visited the beautiful East Garden of the Imperial Palace, the Edo Museum where we learnt about how people used to live, then we explored Akihabara, or ‘Electronic Town’. To end our second day in Japan, we went to Takeshita-Dori in Harajuku for some shopping and Shinjuku for karaoke. Karaoke featured some amazing performances from our very own students, as well as Mr Hallinan and Ms Godfrey. Our next two days were taken up by a trip to the Samurai Museum, Odaiba, Tokyo Sky Tree and a full day trip to the most magical place on Earth, Disneyland.
After a 2-hour ride on the bullet train ride, we arrived in Kyoto. While in Kyoto we visited many Shinto and Buddhist temples such as the Sanjusangendo Temple, Kiyomizu-Dera, Kinkaku-Ji, Ryoanji Temple and Tenryuji. Sanjusangendo houses 1001 unique statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The Kiyomizu-Dera the Jishu Shrine which is dedicated to the deity of love and match-making. The Jishu Shrine features the Love Stone. It’s believed that if you can walk to it with your eyes closed, you’re destined to meet your one true love. Kinkaku-ji is a shrine painted gold, Ryoanji Temple has a unique zen garden meant for contemplation, Tenryuji features a garden that is still in its original landscaping despite several disasters. While in Kyoto we also visited the Nijo Castle where hummingbird tiles are used throughout, which were designed so that even a samurai can’t walk through the castle without making noise. During our stay in Kyoto, we also visited Osaka’s Dontonbori and Hiroshima’s Deer Temples, as well as the Genbaku Dome and Atomic Bomb Museum. Genbaku Dome is a symbol of Peace and the devastating effects of an Atomic Bomb. The dome is the only standing structure near the hyper centre of the bomb.
Almost 3 hours were spent on a bullet train to get to Nagano where we then got on a bus for 50 minutes to finally arrive at Hotel Selan. On our second day in Nagano, we visited Matsumoto Castle, a Ninja Temple, Snow Monkeys and finally after all that, we arrived back to the hotel. To finish the day off, everyone spent the night being taught how to make glass decorated star lights. It’s easy to say, it was a good way to relax after a long cold day. The last day in Nagano was spent visiting Zenkoji Temple and walking around Nagano City before then hopping onto another train which lead us to Shin Takaoka station and then one more train that took us to Fukumitsu station. This is where we finally got to meet our Japanese homestay family.
Our last week in Japan was spent in Fukumitsu where every single one of us stayed with a host family. Each day we attended Nanto Fukumitsu high school and experienced many different Japanese games, cultures and activities. The most memorable activities that we participated in on the first day of school were calligraphy and flower arrangement. On the second day, we were taught how to play a japanese instrument called a Koto and learnt how to play a song that goes by the name ‘Sakura’. On the third day of school, BPC students went on a day trip to Gokayama where we visited the oldest house made, made washi paper, visited Taira High School and made delicious rice crackers. On the fourth day, we watched a japanese animated love film called 5 centimetres per second and participated in tea ceremony. Because of the extreme amounts of fun we experienced during these four days, it’s easy to say that we all dreaded the last day. Saying goodbye to our new Japanese friends teachers was a struggle however, we all enjoyed ourselves at the farewell ceremony together.
After our week at school, we stayed with our host families for two more days before they then took us to the train station on Monday morning. There were many tears as we were all sad to leave but were rushed onto the train to head back to Tokyo. We spent around two hours shopping and eating lunch before getting onto an express train to Narita Airport where we sat on a 10 hour flight back to our home city of Melbourne!