Hi! Melina here. This morning started early. I woke up at 6 and grabbed a cream pan to eat. It was delicious! In Japan there are so many different kinds of bread it's amazing. Today our schedule was to go to Osaka and meet with our penpals, and go to Osaka castle. Everyone got ready to go, because we needed to be out the door at 8:15. Many of the shoes were still wet from the crazy rain yesterday. My shoes were still wet as well so I grabbed some slip ons. Then we were out the door!
Immediately after leaving we had a problem! This trip has been laced with bits of difficulty already. First, we were waiting for awhile for the other half of our group. There was some miscommunication and we were on seperate paths. Everyone was connected through Line, however, so we quickly were able to get ahold of each other. Soon after that, we realized the house was unlocked. Fulmer sensei and I had to go back and take care of that which took some time. After that everyone met together again. By then it was already 8:25 and we weren't too far yet, so we hurried to the station. The train arrived quickly. It was a very small train-- just one car. The sixteen of us squeezed into the train. I felt a little bad for some of the people on the train that we were taking up so much space. It was a pretty short trip.
We switched trains because we were going to be there for awhile. But another incident happened! The other train we were switching onto was stopped! There were lots of students in uniforms, salary men, and other Japanese people waiting in the stations. We had to wait with them. Japanese trains almost never have incidents where they stop like this, so it was almost amazing we got to experience it.
After a little while, the train was ready and we boarded. That train ride was pretty long, but it was really beautiful when we looked outside. Japan is a beautiful place. Finally, we arrived at Osaka without any more problems. When we stepped out of the train station, we could already see the Osaka castle a little farther off. It was beautiful and made me excited. Something fun I noticed was on the drain covers there were pictures. There were a lot of different types. I took a picture of a drain cover that was the Osaka castle.
We got to the school fairly quickly after leaving the station. The school was massive! Seven floors! And lots of space for athletic clubs. The students were waiting for us to guide us. Their English was very good, and the accents they had were so cute. We changed our shoes to slippers, and kept our shoes in a bag. In Japanese schools, all the students wear indoor shoes so they can keep the floors clean. I think that is very smart. The slippers were slippery and kept slipping off my feet, and some of the people with really big feet were too big for the slippers. I am very clumsy so I ended up slipping and tripping a lot. The Japanese students were so nice when they saw and it made me a little bit embarrassed. Inside the school, we walked past a classroom where the brass band club was playing. Everyone made it to the place where we would be staying. There was a seating chart and lanyards already prepared for us. There were also some bags of the school, Otomae high school for everyone. I thought it was amazing all the effort that was put into this visit and it hadn't even started yet.
I met with my penpal that I had been in contact with, along with everyone else. They had a board with the schedule and a welcoming poster.
They had bags and gifts prepared for us as well. There were many games ready for us to play with each other. Gen-san was a student that introduced many things to us. Her English was amazingly good, I'm sure everyone was surprised. First we all introduced ourselves-- the Japanese students in English and us in Japanese (as best as we all could). There was some time to talk to our penpals and the people at our table. Both me and my penpal were shy, so at the beginning there was a lot of smiling and not talking to each other yet. Next there were lots of games prepared. The students explained how to play all the games in English properly before we started. Then we played a "Word Wolf" game. Everyone had the same word except for one person who had a related word. Everyone described what the word they had was and tried to find the wolf. The Japanese students were to use English and we were to use Japanese to describe it. The first round everyone in our group had sushi except for one person who had rice ball. The next round everyone had Donald Trump except one person who had Shinzo Abe (a popular japanese person). That was fun. We all were able to laugh at each other. The next game was called "Picture Shiratori." The Japanese game shiratori was where the players have to connect words using the last syllable of the previous word. It is a little hard to explain. We did it in picture form. First round in English, connecting the first letter with the last letter of the previous word. Team one won! I was team two, but I think it's still fun to watch people win.
Next game was a gesture game, which was basically just charades. They pulled a name out, and that person had to gesture their card. The winner got a reward! It was a piece of baumkutchen. I didn't win any, but it was still fun, and it was nice to watch the people who got it enjoy. The girl across from me said she really wanted it, and then she guessed right away! It was amazing. We played that until the baumkutchen ran out Next game was called "Looking for the epicenter." Everyone stood in a circle everyone matched movement to one person. Another person stood in the middle and tried to find the one who everyone was matching movements to. This game had a punishment game attatched to it! I love punishments games haha. If the epicenter was found, they had to do guruguru bat- spin around ten times and then run to grab something. It's fun to watch! The first round Jackson immedietly found the person within 10 seconds. It was amazing. We played two more times and it was fun each time. Everyone laughed a lot. Then it was time for lunch. We all went down to conbini to buy something to eat (except for the Japanese kids who properly brought their lunchboxes.) Everyone made small talk with each other and another table played a game. It looked fun! After lunch the students had prepared stations for us. We were split into three groups of four to participate in kendama, origami, and kanji/japanese calligraphy. I started at the kendama station. For each station we were given a brief introduction to the activity. Kendama have been around for a lot longer than I thought! Surprisingly I was pretty decent at kendama. There was a student who was crazy good at using the kendama and he showed everyone tricks. Using the tricks, it became a lot easier to get the ball to land properly! I was able to switch from the first cup to the second cup consistently about 15 times! There were a couple of other students I didn't see using it that were also very good. That station was really fun. Even though we weren't moving all that much, I got really sweaty from only using kendama.
Next station for us was origami. At the origami station, our group made windmills, cranes, and shurikens. I am actually very bad at origami, but through the careful attention of the students I was able to finish them alright. Everyone at my station was having a bit of trouble and the students were so good about helping us. My penpal was there and she was so cute! So good about helping. Shandon made a surfer on a wave which was super impressive. He was ready to teach the students!
Next we had the kanji! I have been studying kanji for awhile so I knew some I could use. They introduced kanji and how it worked for the kids, which was really good of the kids. I ended up writing a lot and using a ton of the special paper.
Some of the girls wrote their name in kanji for me and I wrote one and gave it to her. She seemed to like it even though it wasn't super pretty. They each found kanji with the sounds of our names and made Japanese names for us. It looked like it was all a lot of work. I really appreciate all the work they had to go through to give is this experience. We helped clean up as best we could. Everyone who had Line exchanged numbers with each other and promised to stay in contact. After that we made our way over to a classroom to take a picture and check out a real Japanese classroom. Everyone took pictures with their penpals as well.
After that we headed down toward the Osaka Castle. When we first walked out if it seemed like it was going to rain so everyone got their umbrellas out, but it never rained. The walk there was so beautiful.
I had a fun time making conversation on the way there and listening to the Japanese people talk to each other. I got to know some of the other students and my own penpal even more. We talked about a lot of things and I was really happy. We stopped to take pictures in front of the castle.
After pictures we went to the souvenier shops which had air conditoning. It was so humid it was nice to have the air conditioning. While we were walking I fanned myself and some other people. There were a lot of gifts available at the shops but I didn't end up buying anything. There was a food place too. Everyone was getting ice cream and shaved ice because of the heat but I didn't want to spend any money. I kept staring and talking about it but eventually I gave in and bought me and my penpal some Hokaido milk ice cream. It was so good! A group of kids were gathered around a table and I was asked a question so I just slipped into the conversation. It was a fun conversation for me. I made a mess with the ice cream again though haha. We stopped by the ninja store and that was pretty cool. There were a lot of interesting things there. After that we met back in the middle. I took another picture with my penpal with Osaka castle in the back. Then it was time to go back to the station and leave the kids. They walked to the station with is and we finally said our goodbyes But the day wasn't done yet! We were going to Nanba-- a famous place in Osaka for shopping! I do not have a lot of money to be spending places but it was so fun to walk around that place. It was so crowded! There was a sea of people. We passed by a kabuki theatre which was also cool. There were some huge screens playing videos. There was an ad for Solo in Japanese and I saw some Keyakizaka46 on the screen.
Everyone split up and walked around. We promised to meet back at the bridge at 7:30 in an hour. All the girls left together and none of us had wifi, but we remembered the place properly. We went to a clothes shop first and Madison bought some clothes and we looked around before leaving. The shops were all interesting and flashy. We also visited the Disney and Sanrio shops. There was a super cute pet store we stopped at. No pictures were allowed though. All the pets looked were tiny and super fluffy! The Disney store was two floors and really pretty. The Sanrio store was four floors and had a big, fake tree! Some of the boys went to Taco Bell which is funny. Before we met back with everyone we took some pictures by the river
We made it to the group but some of us hadn't tried Takoyaki yet so we grabbed some of that. And there was a vending machine with super cheap drinks we bought. We took pictures at the bridge when we all made it. Then it was a long way home. I caused some unfortunate complications before we finished, but everything worked out and everyone made it. Everyone was so tired.
That day, my team was in charge of the food tomorrow so we had to buy groceries for tomorrow. We bought eggs and apple juice! Then we headed back! I was so tired but I still needed to take a shower. I wanted a bath but I was too tired. Got ready and went to sleep!