Today, we first went to the asakusa shrine with a really big lantern hanging from the front gate. We had about an hour of free time at the shrine. The gap between the gate and the pagoda had a lot of stores. A few people got melon bread with ice cream in it, and the girls got shaved ice made out of strawberries; along with some chocolate strawberries. After we finished up our time at the shrine, we made our way to the edo-Tokyo museum. There were artifacts, recreations, and models from the edo period of Tokyo. For lunch, we ate tempura (breaded shrimp and vegetables. KFseafood). After lunch, we had more free time. Everyone but Shandon, Jackson, and Jacob just walked around visiting different stores. We found a Game Center and stayed there for a while. Edwardo won a snoopy plush, and Annie and Melina (along with everyone else) tried out a taiko drum game. We all had a good time at the Game Center. When the time came, everyone made there way home. Tokyo is a really big city and we won't be able to visit everywhere, but everyone is still having a really fun time here.
Posted by Brandon Osgan
Family, Jackson here. The moment that everything has been building towards; the bustling super city that never sleeps: Tokyo.
Hi Its Larissa! Today we left super early to get to Gifu prefecture where we could meet our host families and get to know them better. My host family is the 川上 kawaue family and they have two daughters Natsumi and Haruna夏海 と春菜 they are soo much fun! I love them Natsumi is 18 like me and is in her senior year of highschool. Haruna is in her last year of junior high. They are both amazing and really fun! They have a pet hedgehog he is super cute! Mom is really great her cooking is the best and she is super nice. We went out for Japanese shaved ice mine had icecream it was super yummy! She also took us shopping and we did purikura and also played taiko drums. I met up with Annie there as well. We helped out with dinner and we had a stew pot for vegetables and meat ( basically bacon) it was super awesome and yummy.After that we just hung out in Natsumi's room and watched some of good morning call because they had not seen it. We also took really cute pictures and did fireworks outside because it is a holiday. They are celebrating the ocean today ^-^ it is unfortunately time to go to sleep but I hope my host enjoyed this experience as much as I have.
After church today, everyone just mostly lazed around for awhile, until around three pm for the girls. We started getting ready for the festival that we were leaving for at six by doing our hair and taking an hour (I think…) to figure out how to put on our yukata. As soon as we were done, we all grabbed our wallets and headed to the bus stop to wait for our bus.
When we arrived at the matsuri, it was packed with people everywhere. There were some floats with lanterns that some people were in them playing traditional music. There were food and game stands lining the streets everywhere. We got free time for a bit once we were in the matsuri, so we all went off in groups until it was time to meet up to head back home.
As my group started heading for our bus stop, we got a message from the senseis saying to meet up somewhere else because the bus we were supposed to go on was taking a different route. Then the same thing happened again after that. My group finally ended up running into Bellini Sensei and her daughter, so we followed her all the way to the bus stop that was actually running its normal stops even though the festival was occurring, were we met up with Fullmer Sensei. Some of the kids weren't with us, but luckily caught one of the next buses and arrived home shortly afterwards.
It was a very fun, slightly stressful and tiring evening for us all. Once we got into our house, we all went to bed to get ready for our journey to Gifu.
Today was the monkey mountain day, which was also the Onsen day! A very relaxing day to say the least. We barrelled up a mountain in Western Kyoto due to the park closing in 30 minutes, and managed to make it up in double the estimated time it took to walk up there. Once we reached the top we were offered Peanuts, Apples, and Bananas we could buy for 100 yen to feed said monkeys. It was interesting finding out that each monkey had it’s own personal tastes. It was going well and the monkeys were being very nice until two of them started fighting, which ended with one of the monkeys shoving another monkey off the top of the mountain. Afterwards we went to a sprawling forest of bamboo to stroll around in, and it was a unique experience to see. After that came the best part of the day: Onsen. Onsen is the Japanese public bath, and though it was kind of weird at first, it was still super relaxing. Afterwards I had Fish Therapy, which was awesome. A bunch of little fish eat the dead skin off your feet and it’s just really tickly. I might have harassed/promoted everybody else into trying it. In the end, Me, Melina, Eduardo, Shandon, were able to keep their feet in the water while keeping their cool. Larissa and Maddie and Jacob kept their feet in but about died doing it, and Aaron and Jackson couldn’t even put theirs in for more than 10 seconds at a time.
Hi! Melina again.
This morning we woke up in Yo-san's house. It was a good morning, if not a little bit hot. The cicadas were very noisy that morning as well. We spent some time eating breakfast and getting ready for the day ahead of us. We all needed to get to the World Friendship Center on time so we wouldn't keep the speaker waiting. She was coming from a little bit of a ways away to see us. Yo-san was kind enough to offer us a ride to the station. He has been so kind to us while we stayed in his house.
The ones that were already ready got a ride down first, and we waited there for the others. It was a different station than the one we initially came from so I was a bit confused at first. It took awhile, but they fit the remaining people in the car we all made it in time for the train.
We rode the train to Nishi Hiroshima station and rode a bus from there to the World Friendship Center. I thought it was going to be a big facility, but it was just a little house!
We wanted to be on time to the center, so we arrived about 10 minutes early, but we were too early! There were still people inside. It was pretty hot today, but we waited in the shade for the most part, so that was nice.
When we went inside, we first had to get situated and then we waited for the speaker, a survivor of the A bomb, to come speak with us. Her daughter was there to translate.
After the initial introduction, Kano-san began to speak with us. She had written a book called "I Will Never Forget that Day" and even painted pictures for it. That book was passed around as she talked. She shared her personal story and experience of the day the bomb hit.
Kano-san spoke of the experience she had of looking for her sisters and descriptive visual of what she felt and saw. It was very touching and very personal. Something I've heard repeated over and over is how it was like hell. She has shared with many people her message of her hope for a peaceful world.
Something she mentioned was about the 2011 tsunami. She said that event was nature, and there is nothing we as humans can really do to prevent nature. But the atomic bomb was manmade, so man should do all they can to stop them.
After we took pictures with her and her daughter, and she finished sharing her story, she left and the man currently in charge of the Center spoke with us. he gave us a presentation on the history of their founder.
It took a little while, but after we were done with that, we headed back to the Peace Museum for lunch and to meet with people who were going to show us around the Peace Park. They are associated with the Center. So we walked quickly as we could down to the Museum for lunch. Everyone was divided into their team and left to choose lunch. We had to hurry because our appointment was coming soon. I rushed through my food so fast I almost choked. But Fullmer sensei said we didn't have to rush anymore after I finished, haha.
There were two guides, so we were split into two groups with one of the teachers in each group. Our guide was very kind. She said it was very hot and tried to stay in the shadows. It was very hot that day, and I had lost my fan so it was even hotter. Fullmer sensei reminded us often throughout the day to drink water.
Our guide showed us around the park and carefully explained the meaning behind the different monuments. I learned a lot of new things.
She talked about the trees and how people donated trees for Hiroshima. Something I think is very beautiful that has been said by many Japanese people and was in the museum yesterday is this: "That autumn, in Hiroshima where it was said 'for 75 years nothing will grow,' new buds sprouted. In the green that came back to life among the charred ruins, people recovered. Their living hopes and courage."
Nature is amazing to be able to grow again despite everything and all the disasters. But humans are amazing too. Humans were also new buds that were able to sprout and come to life through the ruins. Not just plants. They rose up from the Edisaster, "like phoenixes," and dedicated themselves for peace and "No more Hiroshimas or Nagasakis." I think that is a beautiful and amazing thing
There was a beautiful poem written in protest as well as this to mourn those that passed. When we looked through it, we could see the burned dome.
We were also shown the memorial for all the Koreans who died. I didn't know that all those Koreans died. There were a lot. We saw many other things, but I don't want to include every single one of them here.
We were also shown the children's memorial, which was originally made for Sadako, the story of a girl with leukemia from the radiation, who folded more than 1000 paper cranes in hopes of recovery. She died, but even still people leave paper cranes there for the children show died in hopes of peace. At that time, we were shown the children's workforce memorial. There were many kids working at the time of the bomb who were killed.
Around that area was the dome which stood tattered. The sides were still black. Our guide told us about the debate surrounding whether they should keep the dome or not, as well as the debate over adding it as a world heritage site.
Lastly, we walked a brief ways to the hypocenter. It is difficult to image the devastation, and the possibility of it causing even more devastation. I hope we can all remember this and let it impact our lives and perspective.
asI think part of the beauty of Japan is its incredible ability to recover from disasters and devastation, learn from them, and continue to grow. I think we can all learn from Japan in that aspect.
The bus back to the station was so crowded it took awhile to get everyone on. After the next stop some people left and we were able to get situated and sitting down. At one part, there was another bus right next to us filled with little kids. They were really cute and waved to us. At our stop, I accidentally dropped my phone on Aaron. Oops
On the train platform, some people stopped at the 7/11 kiosk for food and drinks. I accidentally got zero calorie Calpis, which was actually kinda gross-- would not recommend. We all boarded the train without any difficulty after that.
After arriving at Kyoto station, everyone met for a little bit and discussed who wanted to go where, since it was now free time. Jacob wanted to go to the conveyor belt sushi, and so did a couple other people (including me), but most everyone headed back to the house.
First we went ot a conveyor belt sushi place across the street of the station, but it was pretty expensive. So we went to a place recommended by some of the locals called Musashi instead. That was underneath the station. It was a little bit of a wait, but we did get in and it was pretty worth the wait. It was delicious! There were so many different kinds. We spent awhile in there enjoying the food.
The final tally for Annie, Shandon, Fullmer-sensei, Jacob and me was as follows: 4 plates, 13 plates, 9 plates, 11 plates, and 11 plates. I wished I could've eaten more, but I was already a little bit over my preset budget....
It took awhile to pay, so when we headed out, we missed the 7 o' clock bus. Since we now had a little bit of time, we stopped in the basement to grab dessert! I was really excited to get dessert, because I love Japanese sweets. They aren't too sweet, but they still retain all the flavour. I bought a Mont Blanc. I've been debating about buying a Mont Blanc this whole trip in a convenience store, but I never could bring myself to buy it. I'm glad now because I can eat a much more delicious kind!
Then we rushed to the bus station. Unfortunately it seemed like we weren't going to make it to the house before 8. We made it back around 8:30. After discussing the schedule for tomorrow as a group, I finished my cake.
Tyler and I went over the recipe for tomorrow and went out for ingredients with Edwardo, Jacob, Shandon, Tyler, and myself.
We came back and practiced the songs some of us hadn't learned yet before going to sleep.
Today we went to a castle called Himeji Castle. Man it was so pretty!!! But it was also so TALL!! And with height comes none other than.... STAIRS! The trip to get to the top was very annoying because the stair steps were so steep and in some areas there was almost no room to stand up straight because the ceiling was so low. When we finally we reached the top we were rewarded with an awesome view of the city, and this made the trip worth it. Also, this hundreds, probably thousands, of years old building for some reason has built-in WiFi and we found some sleeping cats just by the entrance. They were so cute!
Author: Edwardo Polanco
Time has flown by! We are about half of the way done with the trip. Our plan today was to clean the house by 9:30 and leave about 10:00. The cleaning went as planned and we left on time for the train. Of course we had the “One thing goes wrong” streak continue and we got on the wrong train. But it didn’t mess with our plans thankfully! We boarded the correct train and headed to Kyoto Sangyo University. Upon arriving we were greeted by the English teacher there at the school, Nanba Sensei and two other students named Takeru and Ryuji. After Bellini Sensei handed them the omiyage she brought in order to thank them for their time, we all headed up to the cafeteria.
The food tasted delicious! We all conversed with the college students until it was time to have a tour of the school and it’s highlights. The school had a pond that was built especially for the biology majors to study at. Also the school had its own observatory and telescope. It’s known for having the largest college owned telescope in Japan.
After the tour we went to one of the classrooms and all sat down. The students gave us a number (1-4) and we split into our groups depending on our numbers. We were told beforehand to prepare a brief presentation on our families or friends in Japanese. Each of us found and showed pictures and told about each person. I am sure that most of us were stressed about presenting, but it all was fun in the end:)
The college students prepared a presentation on their hometown and/or name meaning. Each of the characters in their names had a different meaning. It was really cool to see how each of their names were chosen for them by their parents. It almost made me jealous that I don’t have characters like that! Afterwards, however, my wish came true. The students helped us pick out kanji that represented our names:
Aaron: Love Dragon
Jacob: Cherish Flourish Tiger Man
Brandon: Samarai Turbulance/Violent Castle
Maddison: Dance Garden Respect
Carden: Flower Shogun
Annie: Love Feelings
Shandon: 100,000,000% Lit Universal Existence
Tyler: Many Good Funs (having fun in the garden)
Jackson: Long Lasting Youth
Afterwards we all exchanged social media and thanked them for all their hard work! We all had a fun time and made some new friends along the way.
This Sunday was another free Sunday, so half of us stayed home while the other half went to Osaka, after being given the option the day before, after church. We got on the bus and rode the forty minute bus ride to Kyoto Station to use our newly acquired JR passes to get on a JR train for free to Osaka. The entirety of the ride took maybe an hour before we finally arrived at Osaka.
The station turned out to also be a giant, expensive shopping center, so we took a little while venturing around a bit in search of a place to get lunch for a decent price. It didn't take us long to find a conveyor belt sushi place. We stayed there for a good while to eat food before having to head back to the station to get one of Shandon's Japanese friends that had agreed to hang out with him while we were in Osaka. Once the friend and her other friend arrived, we all ventured off into the shipping center to explore a little.
Initially, we were looking for a place to go and get ice cream, but everything was so expensive. We ended up just going to a Yukata shop to look around a little bit, then up a floor to look at the Pokemon Center they had. After the Pokemon Center, we went down to the basement level to go and get dinner...but the group kind of ended up getting separated. Luckily, after about an hour of being separated, and just buying food anyways, we planned to meet up at the North gate with the green fountain bear we'd seen when we first arrived at the station.
We all got together again, the other part of our group found a J-pop boy group playing live and bought some CD's, and the Japanese friends had already left. Finally after the long day, we got on the train to ride back home to the house in Kyoto.