Six Shirley boys and four Marian College girls departed on a two-week biannual Japan trip on 25 September.
The cities visited were Nagoya, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo. The students were provided homestay by two of our sister schools, Toho in Nagoya and Akiminami High School in Hiroshima. They experienced real Japanese student life by commuting long hours on busy trains, attending classes with their host brothers and sisters, and having delicious obento (packed lunch) made by host mothers.
Several host families had someone with some English language knowledge but, in most cases, students had to communicate in Japanese which helped them learn new words and gain confidence conversing in Japanese.
We were warmly welcomed by the three sister schools at whole school assemblies where Matthew Croft gave a speech in Japanese and the boys proudly performed the school haka led by Jackson Jones.
As well as welcome ceremonies, the schools organised fun activities for us such as kimono fitting, a portrait drawing session, martial arts sessions, Japanese food cooking, calligraphy. Although it was a short visit, strong friendships were made and a few tears were shed when we said farewell.
In Kyoto, we visited some major sightseeing places such as Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion), the Kiyomizu temple and modern shopping streets in city centres where many students spent a lot of money.
In our final destination, Tokyo, we spent a whole day at Disneyland, saw amazing night lights from the Skytree Observatory (634m tall), walked cross the famous Shibuya Crossing (the most crossed intersection in the world where 500,000 people cross a day on average) and went to Japanese-style Karaoke.
This trip is unique as students can experience Japanese lifestyle and student life by staying with Japanese families and going to sister schools where they can be fully immersed in the language and the culture. It is recommended to those who currently study Japanese. The next trip will be in 2017.