By Lizzie, Participant of Session 1,2, and 3, from USA
This week we did a ninja experience in Akame. Akame was historically the place for Iga Ninjas to train. For that reason, there’s a place for tourists to experience ninja training. We each chose our own ninja uniform and set off for training.
Each activity imitated the skills needed to break into a fortress or attack an enemy. For example, we started with the wall climb. Though some of us may have gracefully jumped over the 3 increasingly tall walls, I certainly did not. Afterwards we did an activity where we balanced our bodies horizontally on a rope and pulled ourselves along. Being smaller definitely helped with this activity.
Then we moved onto skills for attacking enemies: shuriken throwing and blowdart blowing. Though none of us had the accuracy of a ninja, it was easy enough for most to hit the board. It was quite satisfying to hit the target.
Last was the infamous river crossing. I had heard a lot about this activity and how hard it was, but for some reason believed I would be successful. To complete the activity, you needed to balance your feet on two round floats and pull yourself to the other side with a rope. I was very much humbled when I couldn’t even get on the floats without falling into the river. In the end only one person was able to make it across. Even with our failure, we each received a scroll confirming us as ninjas.
We spent the remainder of the day enjoying the nearby beautiful Akame 48 falls. This day was a fan-favorite among the group members.
Wednesday the 7th of August was the first day of the last week of our great trip around Kanto area. We had had lot of fun times in Mito and afterwards in Abiko, but now was time for the city of Tama.
The first thing in the morning, we got to try out traditional Japanese clothing – kimonos. Each member of our group was dressed up by a bunch of lovely and enthusiastic ladies, all the while we could only raise our hands and let them do their work. Personally I really like this type of clothing and found it really fun to dress up in a few different outfit combinations for the photoshoot we had afterwards.
When everyone had at least tried on the clothes and had some pictures taken, we had a small parade around the building. Some of us were a bit uncomfortable about being presented as dressed up foreigners for the entertainment of the local people, but I just took it by the stride and enjoyed my time playing a Japanese flute, shinobue, to make most out of the experience. The parade ended at a stage, where we could try our hand at traditional Japanese games, while still in our fancy clothes. Not gonna lie, juggling or playing with a kendama with big floppy sleeves was not the easiest thing to do…
After lunch, it was time to try on a different traditional Japanese costume – Happi coat. Though not as fancy as the kimonos, it was a nice experience to try those too. In our new costumes we continued onwards with activities. From here we showed the audience the dance we had prepared for the arigatou event and gave them a few short presentations of some of our home countries.
The highlight of the afternoon for me, personally, was the activity following that. We got to try our hand at playing either a Japanese harp, koto, or one of the Japanese flutes, shakuhachi. While I would’ve loved to try out their shakuhachis, time only allowed for us to try one instrument, so I had fund picking sounds out of the koto.
The last activity of the day made us feel like proper celebrities for we got to give out autographs. It would’ve been great fun, if the kids wouldn’t have wanted us to draw something along with giving the autograph. I decided to give my signing seat to another participant after a few signatures to save the rest of the kids from my… “Art”…
All in all we had great fun!
Woke up at 6:30 am as usual when my host mom knocked on the door. This morning however, the plans had been cancelled due to potential heavy rains and so I could sleep in. As much as I was disappointed about not going to the Kairokuen, I was quite tired and happy to sleep for a few more hours.
At 9 I got dressed and had breakfast with my host family. My host mother made a really tasty breakfast with eggs bacon and edamame and my favourite, curry bread.
After we had put away the dishes, we all headed to the Kokusai kouryo to meet with all the other families. On the way we noticed that it actually had barely rained. When we arrived, I quickly joined the other World Campus Japan members for a quick meeting before us all having fun playing games and singing silly songs with the families as well as enjoying the delicious food people brought for the potluck party!
I spent most of the time with my family, but especially with my host dad. We talked about a lot of things together including the education and a little bit about his trip to my country when he was younger.
After clean up, my family decided to still quickly take me to the Kairakuen, but now it was actually raining and very badly… Instead we decided to go visit the Kodokan, an important school where clansmen and their sons had gone to school to learn everything from mathematics to martial arts. The building was quite old but extremely beautiful. Because of the heavy rain, the garden surrounding the traditional Japanese building looked stunning and made the whole area seem like a movie set for a historical movie.
My host family also translated and explained all the panels that were only written in Japanese for me. When we left, the rain was much worse. After a short run in the rain, we made a quick stop at the shopping centre where we picked up some ingredients for dinner which was curry!
After we cooked together and ate, we watched a few game shows on TV together before finally going to bed early. The next day was Host family day, and we planned to leave as soon as possible the next morning and also hoped for no rain.
Hello everyone, My name is Magnus Krumbacher and I’m from Norway. I have been living in Tokyo on my gap year since I graduated from high school last year.
Now that I’ve introduced myself, I would like to talk about my day and what I got to experience. It started off as usual by waking up at 7:00 AM. I went downstairs to eat breakfast together with my host family. I have to say, I’m not really a morning person so I’m always half asleep while eating. Today was no different. Luckily though, they are quite the same so I felt comfortable with just sitting, eating and occasionally talking a bit.
After breakfast my host father drove me to Takematsu elementary school where I met up with the other World Campus participants. After everyone had arrived we walked inside and sat down in an empty classroom, waiting for the principal. Astonished by the sight of so many foreigners in one place, the elementary school kids quickly began to gather outside of the classroom and started staring at us. I didn’t feel uncomfortable being stared at because I think that children anywhere in the world would stare out of curiosity when seeing a group of people that don’t look like people they’re used to.
The principal finally arrived and we were taught the history of Takematsu elementary school. After also having explained some things we were not allowed to do, such as taking pictures of children and publishing them on social media, it was time for 書道, calligraphy in English. After going to the gymnasium and briefly introducing ourselves, we sat down with the children and started writing Chinese characters. I chose to write 嵐, meaning “storm”. Although I was pretty bad at it, the children helped me enough that I ended up with a presentable result. Then the children cleaned up after us and we were introduced to some typical Japanese games like 剣玉, literally translated “Sword-Ball”.
After about 30 minutes we returned to our classroom and waited for the kids to prepare for school lunch. We were sent into different classes and got to interact with the children while eating the school lunch. I made a small group of friends during that time so after we finished eating, they dragged me outside to play with them. On the way out one child had the idea of asking me for my signature and when the others saw that, it completely took off. All of us were surrounded by school kids asking for our signature for at least 10 minutes. When we finally made it outside, my small group of friends suggested we play tag. Of course I was the one who had to catch them and it wasn’t exactly cold on that day either so after we were done, I was drenched in sweat.
We then proceeded to clean the classroom with the children. This is actually part of the education at Japanese schools. They have to clean their own classroom, toilets etc. The children had a hard time believing that in Norway we have people who clean after everyone leaves the school in the afternoon. Anyhow, after having cleaned the classroom it was time to say goodbye. I really felt bad because my small group of friends I had made seemed quite sad that we were all leaving and they had to return to their daily school routine. We then moved to back to the Shorinji Kenpo Dojo we had been earlier that week and practiced for the upcoming Thank-You-event at the end of our stay in Omura.
Our host families came to pick us up and I just had enough time to take a shower before they took me to their daughters place and we all had a rooftop BBQ. The daughters children were pretty scared of me in the beginning but that went away pretty quickly when we started playing various games. The BBQ was also delicious. I discovered that I really like fried tofu. When it got dark outside we went inside and it turned out they had made a cake for me to “welcome me to the family.” I thought that was very sweet of them. Then I went home with my host family and we watched some TV before I went to bed. Overall it was a very successful day!
“Enjoy your day off with your Host Family”, they tell us the day before, and so I did. Both me and my host mom agreed on that sleeping in on this day was a good idea, so the day started slow. After we all had eaten breakfast and gotten ready for the day, we left the house to pick up a friend and her family. It had become quite clear to my host family before that I really liked Pokémon, so our destination was the Yokohama Pokémon Center.
The ride was quite long and with 4 young children in a car, this could have been very tiresome, but luckily there were DVDs to watch, and so we watched a Doraemon movie on the way to Yokohama. I might not have understood everything they said, but I did understand that the evil guy that came from a century later than Doraemon did not win the fight in the prehistoric times. There was also a unicorn.
Having arrived at Yokohama, it was quite clear I wasn’t the only Pokémon lover among us, whose family had noticed, because in the Pokémon Center we encountered Irina and Sam and their host families. After thoroughly browsing the Pokémon Shop and other shops and trying my best at (and winning) a small game they offered, we went to get some lunch, to check out some more small games and a Pokémon pop-up store. After we were all satisfied with having played the games, doing Gacha-Gacha’s and having bought the things we wanted (a Pikachu shirt in my case), we went home tired but satisfied.
But the day didn’t end there, because that evening a local shopping street organized a festival and we were all invited to come, in yukata’s (the summer, festival edition of a kimono) if possible. And so, a lot of us showed up, some in normal clothes, some in yukata, and even someone wearing a Jinbei. When we arrived there, we got a surprise. We were apparently volunteers to work at the festival booths, but nobody had told us in advance, so this caused some stress for some of us. But after all the shifts ended, and when the bon dancing started we were too busy dancing and saying goodbye to worry about it anymore. This Saturday was the last day of session 2, the Sunday was departure day and since some people left early, this was the last goodbye for now.
Thank you everyone for this fun festival and amazing session!
Sabine Boom (The Netherlands)
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