July 31, 2007

Japan Experience Day 2 (July 30) typhoon rain & big red temples!

Meeting Kocho-Sensei, Principal Fukuda!

Our four adventurous students arrived for their first time at Seiritsu’s Tokyo campus looking positive and only a little sleepy after their arrival the day before. Our Monday began with a very short welcome speech from Principal, Mr. Kohei Fukuda, and then an orientation meeting about the program, basic safety, a school tour and general information.

Marvin and Justine learning Japanese from Yano Sensei!

Next up was the fantastic Mrs. Yano, or Yano Sensei to us, who will be teaching the students Japanese every weekday along with the International Manager Richard. Justine and Marvin have had a few years of Japanese language classes in school, while Jessica and Angeline are beginners, although they know how to say ‘roundhouse head kick’ from their karate training!

Practicing the Japanese alphabet with Richard!

After the Japanese class, we picked up our bento box lunches made by the school’s great cook, Mr. Akakura, and headed off to Asakusa, the old downtown area of Tokyo.

Kaminarimon Gate (hiding from the typhoon rain!)

Just when we arrived the famous Kaminarimon Gate (Thunder Gate), a very timely typhoon passed through Tokyo with lots of heavy rain and lightening for a few hours. For sure our Japan Experience students soon felt they were for sure in Asia! The huge Kaminarimon Gate’s entrance way has a massive hanging red lantern hanging from it, and it is the most popular spot in Tokyo for tourists to have their picture taken (which we did in the pouring rain, brave souls we are!)

Sensoji Temple!

The gate is for Senso-Ji, the oldest Buddhist Temple in Tokyo. Here the students saw for the first time how the Japanese pray at a temple. To start there is a large incense urn where people waft the smoke over their heads in the hope they will become smarter (or their faces to maintain/improve their looks!). They then saw how Japanese people use water to purify their mouth and hands with a small ladle to prepare for praying. This is followed by throwing a coin into a prayer box and then praying before an image of Buddha.

Between the gate and the temple are several hundred small shops selling all kinds of things, small and big treasures, lots perfect for souvenirs.

Marvin at the Ameyoko shopping-bazaar entrance!

Coming back to school to beat the rain, we went to a major city center called Ueno and hung out at a Starbucks to eat our lunches (to escape the last few minutes of rain). The students had a chance to then walk around Ameyoko, a busy bazaar area of stores, many located directly under an elevated train line.

Octopus arms/legs for sale!

These stores used to be the black market of Tokyo right after the war when the city was being rebuilt and food and clothing was scarce. But not today, as Ameyoko, named either after America for the US made good sold there in days past, or after the Ameya, the name of candy stores, Ameyoko is bursting with everything for sale, for sure playing its part in making Tokyo the shopping capital of the world.

Our Japan Experience students wearing our judo team's uniforms, with 'Seiritsu' written in bold kanji letters on the jacket!

The day finished with the students receiving a lesson from the judo club, or more like just jumping right into a regular practice! With borrowed uniforms, the students got to do rolls, dives and even ‘eel crawls’ on the floor, plus the more adventurous learned a few shoulder throws.

The judo team making their introductions in Japanese, and English!

Judo Coach, Sato Sensei!

A judo member dives over a chair!

Learning a shoulder pull to throw the opponent off balance.

Thanks for the lesson!

After the judo lesson, the students checked their emails in the library and then they were off again to the home stay families, which I had heard had planned welcome parties with other family and friends. So again, a successful day being immersed in Japan!

Some happy Seiritsu girls see off Jessica, Angelina and Justine as they go back to their home stay!

July 31, 2007

Japan Experience Day 1 (July 29) Arrivals!

A 747 airliner arrives at Narita International Airport, Tokyo's gateway to the world!

Between the arrival of George Clooney (here to promote the movie Ocean’s Thirteen) and some 1000 new English teachers for Japanese schools, plus the regular many thousands of passengers, our four foreign students also arrived safely to participate in the Japan Experience program on Sunday, July 29.

Richard (Seiritsu International Section Manager ), Marvin, Mr. Fukuda (Seiritsu Director & home stay dad), plus cute Mioko!

After a long flight from Berlin, Germany, with a stop-over in Amsterdam, our first student to arrive was Marvin Hartmann. Marvin’s in junior high, he practices karate and jujitsu, plus he loves anime! His home stay family was there to meet him, Mr. Yohei Fukuda (home stay dad), Mrs. Ryoko Fukuda (home stay mom) and Mioko Fukuda (cute 9 year old home stay sister). On the car ride into town, Marvin got to see the city skyline of Tokyo when crossing the famous Rainbrow Bridge.

When he saw Tokyo Tower, he decided for sure that’s where he has to go during his stay (no problem, the Fukuda’s are taking him there on Saturday night to see the wonderful city lights from the top).

Hidenori Hanai, Mrs. Hanai, Mr. Hanai, Angeline and Justine.

The next two participants to arrive were the Canadians from British Columbia! Angeline Spears (from Prince George) and Justine Stefaniec (from Victoria) both arrived on the same JAL Airlines flight from Vancouver, even though they didn’t know each other. They were met by the school’s former PTA president, Mrs. Mitsuko Hanai, her husband Mr. Yoshio Hanai and their 19 year old son (and former graduate of Seiritsu), Hidenori Hanai.

Angeline is going into grade 12 and she also practices karate. Justine is a recent graduate who is preparing to enter education at university in the future.

Soon they were whisked off to Tokyo, where they enjoyed a sushi dinner and some relaxing sleep.

Jessica on the train ride into Tokyo!

The last participant to arrive was Jessica Knight from near Nashville Tennessee on Northwest Airlines. Jessica, while also being a karate-ka, is a recent graduate off to college upon her return to the US to study rehabilitation. Her home stay family is also with the Hanai’s, so she and myself zoomed into Tokyo on several trains to catch up with the rest of the group.

All in all, a very fine (if not a little sleepy for the students) first day with everyone having arrived safe and sound. And so the adventure begins!


July 7, 2007

Poketo teshuu

Jason is well-prepared for the next blocked nasal passage...

Thank the maker for those Japanese companies that send employees to advertise their products at stations all over Japan. Companies employ people to stand outside station entrances to handout promotional tissue packets. These are usually a normal tissue packet with an advertising slip on one side. When you come to Japan you will realize how handy these tissues become (i.e. there are no hand towels in most restrooms).

I don't know about other countries, but I do know that we do not have this type of advertising in Australia. I think it is because in Australia we have more ads on TV then Japan. So in addition to TV advertising, Japanese companies have invented different promotional ways which are also efficient. And with pocket tissues you get free stuff. How great is that.

That's all for me this month, I will keep updating you with fresh information about life in Japan.

Jason Davidson

July 7, 2007

Running on time...

Ryosuke getting his train groove going...

Thank someone special upstairs because trains in Japan come at accurate times! Because my train to school every day comes at exactly 7:39am and gets me to the station near school at precisely 8:07am, I have time to quickly stop at the convenience store, walk at a normal pace while talking to my friends, get to school on time, and even have time for a second breakfast just before class!

Imagine if the train came 5 minutes late…this could alter my whole morning; instead of my usual course of two ham and egg sandwiches and a drink, I might not be able to finish my second sandwich…I can’t study on a empty stomach! So thank you very much ‘train god’, Japan, and everyone who works for JR (Japan Rail) for making my morning everyday a whole lot more enjoyable!

Ryosuke Yano

July 7, 2007

Suica in Japan

Michael holds his and 3 other's Suica cards, ninja style...

Suica… touch… buta bom beep! and you’re on your way. You are probably thinking what the heck is this guy talking about, what is Suica? Well for those of you who have not yet had the chance to experience the convenience of a Suica magnetic train card, I urge you to come to Japan just for it. It is a debit card that you can program your monthly train pass on, load up with extra cash to purchase things and then simply use by swiping it over scanners whether at the station gate or at a store normally in the station.

Suica is the most convenient card I have come across, as it is a train card which can also be used with the bus, on subway, at convenience stores, and vending machines, basically everywhere. In New Zealand this is unheard of because there we have a different card for every little thing.

The great thing about Suica is that instead of having the hassle of opening your wallet and looking for the change to pay for what you want to buy, by using your Suica you don’t even have to open you wallet. It’s just touch the card to a scanner and go. So as long as you have money on your Suica you are always on the go. And that’s the way we do it in Japan. Buta bom beep SUICA!




about Seiritsu

Seiritsu Gakuen is a private co-educational high school created in 1925 and it is located in Tokyo, Japan.

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