Finally, Arigatou Event!

Date of Activity: August 23rd

Finally, Arigato event! I might have been a little tired in the morning, because I forgot to bring my “show cloths” at my host family. But my host father, Shigeru-san, brought it and I was saved. I did not have any problem in rehearsal, but I started to get nervous when I saw a big audience, and I made a mistake while dancing. However, I could say to myself “Daijobu” when I found Shigeru-otosan wearing green T-shirt in the audience. Though it was exhausting day, everybody put a great energy and had so much fun together.

(Yuting Chen, China)

Dance Day!

Date of Activity: August 22nd

After the usual morning meeting, we were joined by two groups of cheerful seniors. The first group taught us how to do the Kappa dance for the Kappa festival later this week. A Kappa is a Japanese legendary water creature that looks like a combination of a frog, duck and human (sounds like a Pokemon). Apparently it has a plate on its head to keep itself moist at all times. The movements of the dance were accordingly inspired by the Kappa – like raising our hand to our head to fill the plate, pretending to swim, etc. Basically, we learned the dance by forming two circles, whereas the Kappa group seniors made the inner circle and we the outer one. Then we mimicked their movements until we sort of got the hang of it.

Dance day

The other group consisted of a lot of smiling old ladies and two elderly gentlemen who practiced Hawaiian dance as a hobby. First they showed us a couple of dances. The music created a good mood and the image of white beaches and tranquil ocean. They explained that the movements of the dance were similar to sign language, and the dance they taught us afterwards represented a love story. The most fun part of the day was probably when the three WCI guys and the two gentlemen from the group (had to) perform that dance in front of the girls (that outnumbered them by far). There are videos of it available, apparently.

Dance day

We spent the last part of the day practicing the dances for the upcoming Arigatou Event. Despite having spent a lot of time dancing already, people were focused and determined to learn this as well. I am positive that their effort will pay off on the Arigatou Event day and later at the Kappa festival.

(Torunn Olsen, Norway)

Making Candles and Lanterns for the Kappa Matsuri

Date of Activity: August 21st

Today we had a lot of fun! In the morning we met a lot of Japanese high school students who would accompany us during our activities of that day. At first we played a game called “samurai” to break the ice – it was very funny. After that we got divided into smaller groups and the students taught us how to make candles out of used frying oil. We make candles existing of three colours, and there were lots of pretty colour combinations. Our group chose the colours purple, green and blue.

At noon we ate lunch together, and after that we walked to the bamboo forest. The forest was called “Geijyutsu no Mori”, which means “The Forest of Art”. It was the first time I’ve ever been to a bamboo forest, but I really liked it. There was a lot of wind, and when the trees hit each other, it made a hollow sound. At first we each had to cut off a piece of bamboo for our lantern. It was pretty difficult since bamboo’s very hard…

After we each got our lantern, we could use different drills to carve out the design we made the day before. Originally, I wanted to carve out three children holding hands and write “KIZUNA” – which means “strong bonds” – underneath. But due to a lack of time, my design ended up a little different. It became one child with a really big head. It looks really weird, but it’s also cute at the same time, so I like it a lot. There were many beautiful lantern designs. I’m really looking forward to the “Kappa Matsuri” – “Kappa festival” – Saturday, because Abiko will be decorated with lanterns and candles everywhere. I’m sure it will be incredibly beautiful!

(Tine Von Den Broecke, Belgium)

Activities with the Local People of Abiko

Date of activity: August 20th

Today, we made “Udon” for lunch. “Udon” are thick noodles you eat with salty soup. It was made with organic flour, and it was chewier than any other “Udon” I have tasted before. But I really liked it that way – it was the best I have ever tasted.

We also drew the design for the bamboo lanterns we are going to make tomorrow. I decided to cut out the shape of the Kanji “空” (sora). It’s my favorite Kanji, and it means “sky”. It chose it because Abiko has a beautiful sky. Also, because of last year’s earthquake, a lot of people died or lost friends and family, and it made people very sad; I want to turn the sad feelings into feelings of hope.

(Maki Ohshima, Japan)

Host Family Day at Disney Sea

Date of Activity: August 19th

Today was host family day, because it is a Sunday. Me and Goedele went together with our two host families (who are friends) to Disney Sea. We went in the afternoon to avoid the hottest time of the day. I had never been in any Disney park yet, but Goedele had visited the one in Paris.

Disney is very popular in Japan, but unlike in Belgium, Mickey, Minnie and Daffy are the most popular. I had never heard from Daffy before, and neither did many of the other WCI members. Daffy is Mickey’s teddy bear, given by Minnie when he had to go on a trip. Very surprising how something this popular in Japan can be totally unknown elsewhere.

Apparently it was a less crowded day, but I wouldn’t have guessed that inside the park, there were so many people! The park itself is a real piece of art, with several themed sections. In the 6 hours we were there, we did 3 rides, one theater show and the evening show in the water. Yes, we had to wait often, but it was certainly worth it.

(Dieter De Paepe, Belgium)