July 29, 2012
Up early and packed ready for take-off. It`s been a busy couple of days for everyone back at our homestay families. Daniel, Kaitlen and my families met up and travelled to Kyoto yesteday to visit the World heritage listed Golden Palace. Stunning builing built in the 1300`s, surrounded by magical japanese gardens. Exquisite. Next we went to Japans version of Movie world. Kaitlen was in her element with the Haunted Hosue set and the Anime museum. A fireworks extravaganza on the river bank with my and Daniels family was the last item on the agenda berore returning home at midnight to snatch a few hours sleep before making the long journey home. I` get Joe to upload some pics, probably while we wait In Kuala Lumpur.
See you all soon.
July 27, 2012
Day 2 of camp. What a day. Very physical and very HOT! HOT! HOT! Up at 6.30 and ready for the morning assembly. The Japanese love ceremony so we listened to the National Anthem while the flags were raised. Kaitlen was selected to do the honours for our group. Then the whole group performed morning exercises and various children addressed the group. After breakfast we all gathered at the assembly area and had a go at the smashing watermelon game. We went out on the lake, pulling rafts across and back and then went rowing in a cutter. Hard work and blister making. The best part was splashing a in the river at the end. Kiah caught a frog and Jack and Daniel saw heaps of fish. No rest for the wicked, so as soon as dinner was over we met once again at the assembly area and took part in all sorts of group activities ranging from caterpillar races to Paper Scissors rock. We even had a go at Hokey Pokey. One of the staff brought out his mandolin and we sang along to a couple of songs. Mathias, who is a JAPEC staff member from Argentina, stole the show with La Bamba. As soon as it bagen to get dark, selected studetns were chosen as torch bearers and they solemnly filed along to the bonfire and lit it. More games followed until the fire had died down enough to toast marshmallows. Incredibly, no one got burnt by fire or marshies! Time to head off for bed after a wsh. The Tasmanian kids felt a lttle out of their depth with the notion of traditional Japanese communal bathing, but felt comfortable wearing their bathers.
Day 3 . Last day of camp. Up with the lark, packing and cleaning up done, we headed off to the morning assembly which was a repeaat of day 2. A lovely breakfast again was followed by meeting in the auditorium for the Japanese cultural presentations. Our kids who thought they had got out of it due to runnung out of time on the first day, were gobsmacked to realise they were expected to kick things off with theirs. They all did a great job, though and the Japanese loved it. We were treated to 4 Rakugo plays, which are a bit like theatre sports. The only props allowed are a fan and a cloth. The students act a story with several parts and the punchline is always funny. I loved it. We had demonstrations of finger play, origami, judo and calligraphy, before being invited to try them for ourselves. Next was a photo frenzy with everyone snapping away at each other. Lots of Aussie transfers were applied, too.
Just before heading off on the buses, we watched a DVD that JAPEC had made of the camp. Everything we had done on the camp from setting out had been filmed and the film crew had stayed up half the night editing it. It was great to see all the kids participating in the various activities offered throughout the camp. We will each be sent a DVD when the final edit is complete, so families can get a good idea of the JAPEC Cultural Exchange Camp.
July 25, 2012
Snaps of us doin’ stuff
Making a group flag
July 25, 2012
Hold your horses. Joe is going to upload some pics. We are now at the camp in Okayama prefecture and haVe just finished breakfast. earlier this morning, we had to sing in front of the whole camp at the morning assembly. The morning assembly is a big deal with flag raising and exercise and speeches. We sang 3rounds of “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree ” and expect an offer do a record deal any time soon. last night we had to give our presentations. Max, Timothy, Janara and Jack were delighted when time ran out and they couldn’t present there’s . Alas they were told this morning that they can present theirs tomorrow instead. Tough luck!
So my turn (Joe here now) with those snaps:
Rotate cup 3 times before drinking. (Why??)
Feeding time at the zoo
Never to old to learn
July 23, 2012
After meeting our host families at the welcoming ceremony, we all took off to our various destinations. Daniel, Kaitlen and I were all heading to Wakayama so we travelled together by train after first enjoying a traditional Japanese lunch of Takoyaki, which are dumplings with an octopus filling. The trip lasted for about 1.5 hours. The Dads were there to meet us at the station and take us home. My host mother is an English teacher so I had the pleasure of teaching 15, 6 -9 year olds. Once they got over their shyness they were very enthusiastic. They loved `Simon Says` and Bingo. Ritsue had to work at an English Cram school that evening so I went to a sushi train with the rest of the family for dinner. Next morning (Sunday) Ritsue took me to visit Wakayama Castle. It is an amazing place wiwth extraordinary stone and woodwork. The main building is crammed with ancient armour and weaponry as well as other incredible artefacts. No photos allowed, alas. Next we visited a shrine where we only saw a handful of other people. That is not the case on New year`s Eve though. Ritsue said that everybody visits the shrine then. After returning home for a delicious lunch of Udon noodles cooked with beef, Ritsue took me to meet her mother. Kaoru teaches Ikebana (Japanese traditional Flower Arranging) and also instructs on Tea Ceremony. She is going to give me a class next week. What a privilege. On the way home we did a quick recce of the shops to sniff out souvenirs. Late in the afternoon Ritsue`s brother and 2 small children came to visit and they were very interested in Tasmania, enjoying the photos I showed them. Ritsue arranged with Daniel`s family to go together to the Wakayama Summer Fireworks Festival. I loved walking along seeing so many men as well as women in traditional dress. It was a real carnival atmosphere with lots of colourful stalls lining the road into the event. So many delicious dishes on offer made it hard to choose what to eat! Ritsue managed to get us seating in the VIP section, so we had a wonderful view of the spectacular fireworks. Unbelievable that they went for an hour and a quarter. They were so loud that I could feel the vibrations in my chest. Today is the first day of summer holidays for the kids. Not so for teachers. I went to her son, Shoma`s school tfor a parent /teacher interview with Ritsue. I had a look around and can report that shools are much the same in terms of layout. This elementary school had an impressive facade and also a swimming pool, but the classrooms still had chalkboards and oldfashioned desks. We spend the rest of the day roaming around huge department stores, where the air conditioning was a welcome relief from the heat. Anohter group of children camer in the afternoon, so I repeated the lesson i had on the first day. I have photos but can`t upload them at present. hopefully I will be able to before the end of the trip. Dinner time – must log off. Off to camp 5 am tomorrow.
July 21, 2012
July 20, 2012
After along but uneventful flight we arrived in Japan to be met by Satomi after clering Customs at 8.00am
She had arranged for a welcome message to be shown on a huge display screen, so of course we had a group shot taken in front of it. Photos will be uploaded soon. On to the bus and we drove to Osaka city through a warm but heavy rain. Since we couldn’t check in until 2.00, we left our luggage at the hotel and set out to explore the city. starvation made the first port of call the food court which runs under the railway, heading toward Osaka station. Initially we wandered up and down checking out the fare before making our choices. Photos of the amazing food will also new posted anon.
HOT, HOT, Hot, so off to Osaka station in search of ice cream. Needs met, we next ventured into a games emporium; 3 floors of gaming heaven for those techno heads amongst us. Loads of fun was had creating arty portraits in the photo booths, too. Mmax had a bit of misfortune, somehow losing his wallet. A quick call home to Paul had his card cancelled and all was well.
A look at the clock showed we had time to do some shopping. IT’s a good thing the shops are air conditioned as lack of sleep and the heat were starting to wear us down. However, intrepid spirits as we are, we battled on and visited a fantastic super store selling everything from perfume to dog food. in ally reaching exhaustion point we staggered back to the hotel for a little snooze.
Tonight we are off to a festival. Satomi is taking us and has warned that it will be very crowded and VERY NOISY!
I’ll post again tomorrow.
July 20, 2012
Hot and steamy 28 degrees at midnight Hobart time. Waiting around for loading on last leg. Kisds still with lots of energy.
July 19, 2012
Get your skates on. Have you got your passport? I have yours, Max. See you soon. Up, Up and away. Sayonara.
July 18, 2012