August 12, 2007

Japan Experience Day 15 (Aug 12) Until we meet again!

An airliner departs from Narita International. All too quick it seems, today our JE students departed after completing the action-packed program!

I'm happy to report all the JE students had no problems checking-in today at Narita Airport for their departure home! And it ended up only being 32 degrees and not that humid, quite pleasant actually!

First up this morning was our German student, Marvin! Here is the final photo with his home stay family The Fukuda's.

Myself and Marvin ready to do karate one last time!

A combined record number of about 53,000 people left from Narita International Airport and Haneda Domestic Airport from Tokyo due to the beginning of the summer obon holiday season. There was lots of traffic jams reported throughout Japan on the highways, and Narita was quite busy, but our JE students seemed to smoothly get right through departure security and off to their gates without a hitch.

Next up into the wild blue yonder was our American student Jessica (far right)! She was seen off by the Hanai family, plus the later leaving Canadians, Justine and Angeline.

Some happy, if not a little teary, faces as Jessica bid farewell to one and all!

Myself and Jessica, just before she went through security and off to customs, during which we all did the Japanese custom of continiously waving for many minutes until she was for sure out of sight.

Since it was a long wait until the two Canucks imitated migrating Canada Geese, Angeline and Justine said good-bye to the Hanai family right after checking-in, because the Hanai's then were to make their slow way by car through holiday traffic all the way back to their home in Tokyo.

I'll write to you first!...
...No, I will write to YOU first!...

Angeline and myself, just before she found a departure security gate with no line-up!

Justine and myself, in a photo that somehow went black and white. It sort of looks like I was seeing her off as she boarded an ocean-going liner of yesteryear...

With the sun setting during my ride on the express bus to Omiya in Saitama prefecture near my home, here's a photo taken while on the elevated highway near the northern part of suburban Tokyo along the Arakawa river, not too far from the school.

It seems all the JE students found the program very worthwhile, a trip of a lifetime, and there were many glowing comments in the completion questionnaires they filled out, plus some good feedback on how to tweak the program for next year.

The school and myself are just very happy the program was a clear success, and that the students who participated this year truly enjoyed it! Not only did each student thoroughly experience Japan from the inside out, they also made many new friends! Today's departure was is in no way good-bye forever for any of us, but simply see you all again, somewhere, sometime, that's for sure! Ja, mata ne!

In a few days I will post a conclusion message with some final photos.


August 11, 2007

Japan Experience Day 14 (Aug 11) Last day with home stay families!

Today is the last full day for the JE students to be with their home stay families, therefore this will be just a short post.

Marvin trying to master noodle-slurping at lunch today!

Marvin visited Shibuya again with the Fukuda family, and then he was to have dinner with the Principal tonight.

Jessica, Angeline and Justine went to a special shop today where they were dressed up by an expert in the art of wearing a kimono. Mrs. Hanai said they all looked wonderful (sorry, I haven't got any pictures yet).

Mrs. Hanai also arranged for the girl's luggage to be sent to the airport in the afternoon by a special airport courier service so that the trip to the airport by train tomorrow is easier on them (the weather forecast said it will be a humid 37 degrees).

Tomorrow. August 12th. The last day of the program. I'll be there to see everyone off, along with the home stay families. Since it is almost 9pm on Saturday now at the time of this posting, our JE students have less than 24hrs left here in Japan...


August 11, 2007


A typical cityscape at dusk!

JE Program student Angeline hit the nail on the head yesterday when we were talking as a group about what it takes to come to Japan to take part in the Japan Experience program.

And the answer is... one must SUBMIT TO TOKYO!

By each student getting out of their comfort zone which is their own country, they then enter Japan where the language, culture, extreme change of time zone, hot weather and constant stimulus are all encompassing

If one just submits to these facts and tries to embrace them, they will have a wonderful time! But if one tries to cling to their comfort zone, they may feel hesistant or reluctant, which means they’ll miss so much by not looking up or not trying something, losing the chance to be aware of all the many things that are happening around them (plus very useful information needed for the I-Know-Japan contest!).

The other important aspect to getting the most out of Japan is to not just think of oneself, but in true Japanese fashion be an active member supporting the JE student group. Japan is very much a group culture, so much so that for the students to truly experience this fascinating country, they need to always make sure everyone in the group is involved and included, and not just go around looking out for their own individual interests.

Some examples of this group attitude include making sure everyone has their lunch before one eats, insuring everyone made it off the train together and for everyone to support each other during each activity. The phrase 'all for one & one for all' comes to mind, or maybe 'all for all'!

New sounds, new tastes, new friends and new fun are all here if the student makes the mental effort to try everything, at least once, by entering Japan completely, perhaps like in feudal times when one lone samurai would march boldly into the enemy's camp to conquer by negotiation or by force (a corny analogy, but actually somewhat appropriate)! Those students who can do this will truly realize all that is possible in this ancient country!


August 11, 2007

Japan Experience Day 13 (Aug 10) Japanese folk tales, the JE World Championships, Farewells, Souvenirs & Karaoke!!!

The final Japanese class with the wonderful Yano-Sensei! Everyone hold up your presents!

Everyone arrived today on-time and raring to go. I kindly asked Yano-Sensei to teach a Japanese folk tale, first in English and then in Japanese. So Yano-Sensei chose Sannen Netaro, or The Boy Who Slept for 3 Years. It seemed a bit difficult for the students, but soon Yano-Sensei was holding a little samurai boy doll, making it dance around the table in front of her as she did her utmost to animate a few other tales too.

Then we had our final group picture with Yano-Sensei, giving her a few presents, but she surprised us by having presents of her own to give to the students! She had bought beautiful Japanese hand-dyed & painted handkerchiefs and towels that were really exquisite (and I suspect from a Ginza store).

I must say Yano-Sensei truly thought about the well-being of the students during the whole trip, checking on them constantly, and it seems she spoiled them a bit too which was super sweet!

The I-Know-Japan! contest board!

Afterwards I kicked the JE students out of the room and sent them to check their email in the computer room as Cathy Sensei and I prepared for the 1st Annual Seiritsu Gakuen Japan Experience ‘I Know Japan’ Trivia Contest World Championship. The reason for the long and a little strange name is that it is a straight translation from the long Japanese title I made, in keeping with the Japanese custom of making a long, formal name for any event, no matter what it is.

All the questions are based on who the students met, where they went, key Japanese language phrases, major points of things they learned and of course some of the sillier things someone has said or done.

Canada is in the house! Representing Prince George, contestant An-jya-li-nu!

Our four ‘country representatives’ did a great job answering all the trivia questions thrown at them, even under the pressure of an audience which included the Principal, Vice-Principal and School Director, plus a few teachers.

All the way from the good-ole U S of A, Tennassee contestant Je-shi-ka!

Questions ranged from some easy ones like ‘Who was the name of the cooking teacher?’ (Nakamura Sensei) to harder questions including ‘Why is a Japanese tea ceremony door so small?’ (to symbolically leave all one’s emotional baggage outside).

Another Canuck! This time representing Victoria, contestant Ju-su-teen!

Some questions ended up being really funny. One was ‘Does the cooking teacher have son or a daughter?’, which everyone easily got since Nakamura Sensei was in the audience with her sweet young daughter beside her waving to JE students.

All the way from Germany, representing Berlin, contestant Ma-bu-i-in!

And our gold winner was... Justine! She scored 400 points (10 pts per answer), but she was trailed very closely by everyone else. Jessica picked up the silver, with Angeline and Marvin both getting bronze.

The winners! ....and a wonderful red bow-tie!

Say chee-zu everyone!

After medals were slung around necks in an improtu award ceremony, the students received several extra gifts, plus each student received beautiful copies of each kanji they had learned from Mrs. Fukuda!

Seiritsu's wonderful completion certificate with our official logo on top! Each one was hand done by Mrs. Fukuda with each student's name written on it! Sublime, and very frameable!

Finally the Principal Mr. Fukuda awarded each student with a large ‘Japan Experience Completion Certificate’ in Japanese, along with a Seiritsu embroidered leather cylindrical case to keep the certificate safe in for the journey home.

Farewell lunch!

Next up was the Farewell Party lunch, catered by the school’s fabulous cook Akakura-san, who prepared lots and lots of food, including pizza, for all the JE staff and students to enjoy in the warm student hall. After much eating, speeches and warm good-byes, the students were soon off for their last adventure into Tokyo as a group with me for the afternoon.

In Asakusa, under the Kaminarimon again, which is the entrance to hundreds of shops that line the stone path to Sensoji temple.

Two very cute girls in colorful summer yukata, which is simply a light one piece kimono. Going to a temple, fireworks festival or summer party wearing yukata is still popular for old and young alike!

As per their request, we returned to Asakusa which has many small souvenir stores, and then after purchases in hand, we escaped the heat by renting a karaoke box in Ueno just for ourselves for 2hrs! There was no holding back with lots of enthusiastic singing and dancing, with even Marvin singing the original Nena song ’99 Red Balloons’ in German, twice! Jessica and Angeline were in fine duet form for more up to date songs like Avril Lavigne & Offspring, Justine went for classic rock like the Rolling Stones, and lastly this writer was all over the board from Michael Jackson to Radiohead.

Actually seeing Marvin sing the theme song to My Neighbor Totoro in Japanese was quite entertaining!

The final JE group shot! A most appropriate place to disband, right in the middle of a busy Tokyo shopping bazaar, everyone to melt into the city and go on their way, easily navigating this huge metropolis, like a true Tokyoite! That in and of itself is a great success!

And from there, we officially disbanded the JE student group of 2007. Marvin went off to a German restaurant with Mr. Fukuda, while the girls returned to the comfort of Mrs. Hanai’s very hospitable house!

For Saturday, I heard Mrs. Hanai is taking the girls to a special shop to try on real multi-layered kimonos, plus have their picture taken! With the Fukuda family, Marvin is off to a swimming pool and then a large manga bookstore in Shibuya.

On Sunday I will be at Narita Airport from 9am to 6pm to meet all the students as they arrive with the home stay families at separate times so that I can help them check-in and make sure they easily go through security as they head to their departure gate, just to make sure everything goes, as the Japanese like to say, smoothuu...!


August 10, 2007

Japan Experience Day 12 (Aug 9) Uno cards in Japanese, big men wrestling in loincloths, delicious hot-pot stew & the re-created world of old Tokyo!

Playing Uno in Japanese!

Today I wanted the beginner and intermediate Japanese groups try learning Japanese together, so I asked Yano-Sensei to play the card game Uno in Japanese with everyone! She and Justine were new to Uno, but they both caught on quickly, plus Kato-Sensei (a social studies teacher who speaks English) asked if was ok for him to play too because he is a big Uno fan.

After describing everything in Japanese, one extra special rule was added; everytime someone said an English word, they had to pick up a card. So guess who got penalized the most? Yano-Sensei! Seems she shares my problem of being stuck between two languages as well!

There was lots of laughter, howls and roars, which I could even hear in the staff room across the hall. This game definitely went over well as everyone played over our alloted lesson time. For sure next time we will play with some regular Japanese students, since Uno is very popular with Japanese school kids.

After an email check, we were off from Higashi-Jujo station to ride the Keihin-Tohoku line to Akihabara station where we switched to the Sobu line. From there we went 2 stops east to Ryogoku station.

Sumo anyone?!

The Ryogoku area is the home of the massive Ryogoku Kokuginkan Sumo Hall. Also in the area are many sumo-beya (sumo stables) where the pro wrestlers practice, whoever, all the senior pros are on a promotional tour of Japan, and the juniors trying to be pros are on summer camps in little towns around Japan. (Our original plan was to visit a sumo-beya for a bit in the morning, but since there would be no one around, we had the extra Japanese class playing Uno.)

Summer camps are held in little towns, and are very popular for all sports and clubs, normally with a sport team going to a training center designed for their sport plus having a dormitory. In terms of my high school karate club, we have gone to the same mountain town 6hrs from Tokyo by taking a bus then train, to stay at a summer lodge, annually for over 12 years!

The great thing was the sumo museum was interesting with many old photos of wrestlers and videos of matches. Everyone was impressed with the average height and weight of the wrestlers, most being over 190cm (6’2’’+) and over 130kg (286lbs)!

From the museum, we braved the warm weather to skip across the street to one of the many chanko-nabe (hot pot) restaurants in the area.

Sumo wrestler food anyone?

Surrounded by regular ‘salarymen’ (male office workers) and pictures of sumo, we treated ourselves to some big steaming bowls of chanko-nabe (stew)! I thought it was delicious, and it seemed the student’s stomachs were in agreement, with even the pickiest eater in the group eating most of his!

Chanko in the pot, scooped from the steaming bowl with the ladel. plus rice and gooey seaweed salad, all washed down with cold tea!

Behind the Sumo Hall is the humungous Edo-Tokyo Museum raised high in the air, like a huge white elephant-without-the-trunk. Edo is the old name of Tokyo and inside are wonderful displays of how feudal Japan (Tokyo having several million citizens for centuries) turned into modern Tokyo.

Marvin trying to lift 26kg of water!

The interactive displays seemed to be enjoyed by all, like lifting the water buckets and samurai banners. Just the progression from old to new Japan was fascinating. Also there were more foreigners congregated together into that museum then we had seen anywhere so far.

Makudonarudo as McDonalds is called in Japanese, where we cooled off with 'soft twists'. Just being curious, I enquired as to how many calories in the Mega-Mac 4 beef patty.... 754!

Oh yes, with the return to Akabane, I relinquished my leadership duties to the democratic institution of the students to allow them to decide how we should get back to Akabane by train. Although they started out a little perplexed when we got to Akihabara station where they knew we needed to change trains, they all figured out the route pretty quick.

Arriving in Akabane, we strolled around some small side streets to see old, tiny stores selling all kinds of goods for the average person’s needs, before walking back to school in one piece, although a little lighter due to the heat.

After we called it a wrap, three students were off to their home stay families and Jessica joined me at the school karate club’s dojo for another practice. Today was sort of ‘Richard-Sensei’s Billy Blank’s Boot Camp Workout!’ except my iPod battery died just as I hooked it up to the sound system.

Jessica's reverse roundhouse kick!

Anyway, I think everyone had a good practice, especially learning lots of takedowns and sweeps.

Quick everyone, get in the picture, 'cause if you weren't in the picture, you weren't there... now be macho!

And by 6pm, another day was done! Everyone seems to still be in good spirits, and tomorrow is the last day for the JE students at the school before the Saturday with the home stay families, and Sundays return.

On the schedule for tomorrow is the final Japanese class, which is something again new and interesting for them, then the ‘’Seiritsu Gakuen High School 1st Annual I-Know-Japan World Championship Trivia Game Contest’ (all questions are about what the students have learned during their stay), followed by the Farewell Party with the staff.

Afterwards we’re going souvenir shopping back in Asakusa as per the student’s request, and then if there is time, maybe have some extra fun in Tokyo before they head back to their home stay houses.

Wow, Day 12 done, it’s amazing how much we’ve accomplished and yet how fast time has flown by!


August 9, 2007

Japan Experience Day 11 (Aug 8) More Nihongo, the 45th floor of City Hall, an Emperor’s Shrine & Kendo Bamboo Sword Madness!

Everyone strikes a pose with Japanese kid's television characters on the wall in a Shinjuku underground walkway!

Everyone arrived on Wednesday easily on Wednesday, no traffic jams to be scene. Yano-Sensei and I kicked started the day with the Japanese lesson. For my beginner’s group, we learned how to tell time (ima nan-ji desu ka? what time is it now), so that all day long I could ask them at any moment!

The area around west side of Shinjuku station - the station is the long centre piece going left to right.

Next up was picking up our bento box lunches from Akakura-San and whisking away on the Saikyo line to Shinjuku, where we went to the Kinokuniya Bookstore, a large chain store with foreign books on the 7th floor. Most big book stores now have a foreign language selection, but for years, Kinokuniya in Shinjuku has been a main haunt for foreigners. They always have a great selection of hard to find English books on Japan, plus a great variety of Japanese language study books.

Tokyo's Metropolitan 'City Hall' Skyscrapers!

Next up was a hike through some tunnels under Shinjuku to arrive at Tokyo’s ‘City Hall’, formally the Tokyo Metropolitan Buildings, which makes sense not calling it a ‘hall’ since it is several skyscrapers!

The eastern part of central Tokyo. The white dome is Tokyo Dome, known as the Big Egg!

The two main towers, named North and South, have observation decks on the 45th floors, so we rode high-speed elevators up, ears popping along the way.

Tokyo Tower, with the brand new Tokyo Midtown Center in front of it in Roppongi. When Tokyo Tower was completed back in 1958, is was pretty much the tallest building in Tokyo, and could be seen from anywhere, giving the Japanese a sense that the country was rising to recovery from the war a decade previously.

The 360 degree views are of course breath taking! If it is a windy day and the sky is clear, you can see Mt. Fuji too, but today, we could only just make out the base.

A forest in the city? That's Yoyogi Park, with the Meiji Jingu Shrine hiding in the middle.

From these towers, one can see all the way to north past Akabane, and south to Yokohama, which is easy to spot with the Yokohama Landmark Tower.

Meiji Jingu Shrine's roof!

We could also see an entire forest in the middle of the city, called Yoyogi Park. In the middle of the park is the Meiji Jingu Shrine, named at Emperor Meiji who was the first emperor in the modern period from 1868.

A huge torii gate, one of several leading to the shrine.

The hike to the shrine was pretty hot, two of our crew escaping to the subway system, and the rest of us brave souls finally succumbing to a taxi ride. More adventure!

The main shrine building inside the walls. Meiji is one of the three most important Shinto shrines in Japan.

Walking on Yoyogi’s wide gravel lanes covered by massive cedar trees was incredibly cool and refreshing, several degrees cooler than the city streets. The shrine was also very peaceful and calm, which was sort of hard to imagine it is sitting smack dab in the middle of the world’s largest metropolis!

A peaceful shrine wall.

Back at school, we had our kendo lesson from the school’s 7th degree kendo club master, Sasaki-Sensei. It seemed at first all he said was ROAR!

The start of the kendo lesson with Sasaki-Sensei!

As he kept yelling commands at all the regular club members and he tried to express the importance of the spirit bursting out in a strong voice when one performs kendo. After a quick lesson in stance and guard, whacking the club members in the armor began!

Attack!!! Kiaiiiiii!!!!

Marvin in full head gear!

Jessica watching the bamboo shinai sword whiz by!

Sasaki Sensei seemed especially pleased with Jessica, her karate training and tournament experience really paying off, so much so I think he wanted to adopt her right then and there!

Our samurai warriors!

August 8, 2007

Japanese Experience Day 10 (Aug 7) Traffic Jams, Fried Pork on Rice, $200 Watermelons & more sweaty karate!

Outside the Imperial Palace gate in the afternoon!!

The day started off by sort of not starting. Marvin arrived on-time, but the 3 girls waited at their bus stop for 45mins with no buses making an appearance. So they hiked back to their home stay house and otoosan (father) Hanai-san drove them to school, or at least tried to. There was an accident somewhere that clogged all the traffic up and the three had an extra 1-1/2hr sleep in the non-moving car.

So when they did make their grand appearance at school at 10:20am, they found Yano-Sensei teaching Marvin Japanese, and he teaching Yano-Sensei German in return.
Alrighty then, Japanese lesson time passed, off to cooking!

Making katsu-don with Nakamura Sensei!

Nakamura Sensei had the cooking room all prepared for a how-to-make katsu-don lesson.

Chopping into bite-size pieces!

Katsu-don is fried breaded pork cutlets on top of rice, mixed with fried onions and egg cooked in a soya sauce base.

Miso soup & katsudon, a very common Japanese food that people make at home, or eat at the innumerable katsu-don restaurants found all over the place.

Everyone enjoying the 'katsudon of their labour!'

In the afternoon after an email check, we were off to see the gate of the Imperial Palace, plus the walls and the moat that wraps around it. We whisked off to Tokyo station and walked through the Marunouchi financial business to get to the Imperial grounds.

Outside Tokyo station!

Part of the Imperial palace wall.

While one is not allowed inside, the different gates and the all-encompassing wall were quite impressive, especially when ancient Japan (the palace being hundreds of years old) is right beside massive modern skyscrapers.

Then it was off to Ginza, the 5th Avenue of Japan. A very popular place, people sometimes buy gifts from the many brand name shops, specialty boutiques and department stores, just so the receiver can see the article was purchased in Ginza from the stores name being on the wrapping paper.

The Sony Building display center!

We first stopped at the Sony Building, which had all the latest and greatest thin plasma TVs, digital cameras, and much more, plus a huge high-definition digital display screen of an aquarium full of whale sharks.

Angeline and Jessica goofing around in front of a blue screen!

Ginza's main street! (Yano-Sensei's favorite part of Tokyo)

Next was Mitsukoshi, a famous department store with a long, long history of being stocked with the absolute best of whatever. In the basement of all department stores are specialty deli shops, and since this is Mitsukoshi, they had on display 2 melons for \21,000, or over $176US!

Here they are, in the flesh... I mean rind!

Why you ask? Well, when one looks at the melons, they are perfectly identical, from a famous company (of which there are several) that have a reputation for growing excellent melons. And they’re sold in Mitsukoshi. In Ginza. Hence the price.

From there, everyone got to window shop up and down the main street to see all the amazing architecture of the brand name shops. Marvin and I explored several, plus the front of the Kabuki-za, the main Tokyo theater for kabuki performances.


We also tooled around Apple Computer's Tokyo Mac Store store, drooling over every new Macintosh gadget (extra drool from the someone-who-writing-this who has just broken their iPod…). Due to the staff being far too friendly, aka smooth sales people, we escaped and ate ice cream to try to mask the stimulus overload.

The Mac Store!

Recreating a sense of groupness, we extracted ourselves and returned to school from the Yurakucho station to the Higashi-Jujo station on the Keihin-Tohoku line. There we called it quits for the day, however Jessica, Angeline and Marvin road 2 trains with me to go to a famous karate instructor’s practice near Otsuka station.

Mr. Hideo Takagi is a dentist by trade during the day, and by night one of Japan’s highest ranking karate instructors in both the Wadokai karate association and in the umbrella all-style Japan Karatedo Federation (8th degree black belt in both!). Having phoned ahead a few days ago, I was told we must come to his dentist office and wait for him to finish work at 6:30pm. We did as we were told, and entered his tiny dental office which contained 2 small couches, a reception counter and behind a dividing wall, 2 dental chairs, each with a patient being worked on.

The always-not-so-pleasant mechanical drill sounds of ZEEEEEEE and EEZEEEE made me politely ask Takagi Sensei if we should go wait for him at the Starbucks across the street, to which he turned to me in his green lab coat and a growl responded from behind his green dental mask.
‘Hai Sensei, we’ll be quiet right here!’.

He soon appeared dressed casually in a polo shirt from Hollyburn Country Club ( a friend runs the karate dojo there in Vancouver), and he was all smiles, plus he had huge Japanese fans as gifts for everyone. Then as if right on cue, a senior student from sensei's dojo appeared to lead us to a very clean elementary school gym, hot as Hades, where we made our introductions and got right into the kicking and punching business at hand.

Lots of strange looks from Takagi Sensei (what sort of punch is that?), while he and some older students were prodding, jabbing and poking to fix our positions. But then all too soon it was over, much weight lost through the sweat glands, and everyone become picture-taking happy!

Picture time everyone!

left to right: Marvin, Richard, Angeline, Takagi-Sensei, Jessica, and a gentleman from London who watched the class with his family.

Forgetting our students were in high school and not university, Takagi Sensei’s invitation to go drink beer and eat loads of great food had to be turned down (Sensei, their home stay families are expecting these.... err.. high school students) we were off again into the warm Tokyo night.

Do you wanna see 7 punches...? Do you wanna see them again? (And the famous athlete that said this was...wait for the trivia contest on Friday!)

The last adventure came later, as Jessica and Angeline went back home by themselves, but missed getting off at Akabane station (after I had clearly stated where to get off, please don’t think I was negligent, we’d done this train route a few times now) and had a bit of a fright riding into the next prefecture of Saitama. A nervous phone call to me just before 11pm from their home stay brother Hidetori had me prepare to go to my car to go look for them should they not arrive in a few minutes, but they did and talking to them on the phone they were laughing at themselves, in good spirits.

Another misadventure done, Day 10 was in the can!


(For those non-film makers and others new to English, when movies are shot on film, the film comes in round metal cans. After a roll of film is used, it's put back in the can and labeled, hence when something is done, it’s in the can!)

August 7, 2007

Japanese Experience Day 9 (Aug 6) ‘What’s that way over there?!’’ in Japanese, kimono colored folding cranes & the swish, roll and slice of Soba noodle making!!!

Intermediate Japanese group with Yano Sensei!

Monday start began with everyone arriving looking a little sleepy from active weekends, but enthusiastic. Mr. Fukuda had taken Marvin to the beautiful seaside town of Kamakura, about an hour south of Shibuya by train, home to many temples and a famous 13m tall Great Buddha statue.

The girls Jessica, Angeline and Justine became fast fans of Japan’s karaoke box system, spending some 3 hours on Saturday belting out all kinds of tunes. Sunday they once again explored Harajuku.

Yano Sensei and myself got things rolling Monday with our two Japanese lesson groups. The beginners learned ‘this, that’ and ‘hey, what’s that thing way over there’. The intermediates with Yano Sensei studied ‘What am I?’, with Yano-Sensei describing a picture the students were looking at and then they would have to answer in Japanese by choosing from a vocabulary list.

Learning origami from Yogo Sensei!

After break to check emails, Eikin Yogo, the school’s art teacher and a professional painter, brought in loads of special origami (folding paper) of all sorts of colors, some painted with brilliant kimono themes. Yogo Sensei’s plan was to challenge everyone with difficult origami and cutting origami (sort of like folding and cutting white paper to make snow flakes, but much more formalized), however, everyone just really got into basic, and very fun, ninja throwing stars, frogs and flowers.


For sure they could have sat for several hours folding, shaping and compiling origami since they were enjoying it so much, which I was happy to see.

Paper cranes!

August 6 is an important day in Japan being the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. I told the students a famous story of Sadako Sasaki, a 12 year old girl who was 1 mile from ground center at the time of the blast. While she survived the initial bombing, 10 years later she developed leukemia, and was given one year to live. While in hospital, she tried to fold 1000 paper cranes in the hope there was some truth in Japanese saying that anyone will have their wish granted should them accomplish this feat. Supposedly she made it to 664 before she passed away less than a year later, but her friends made many more and now there is a statue of her at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

Origami group photo with Yogo Sensei!

In the afternoon we hopped a few trains over to Koiwa City area of east Tokyo, getting off at the easy to remember Koiwa Station, arriving at the home of Mr. Masao Ito. Ito Sensei is a master at making soba (buck wheat) noodles!


He is 76 years old, he retired 10 years ago, and right after he retired he remodeled his living room with 5 cooking stations (really big wooden tables) to teach people how to make real homemade soba.


Chopping the soba dough!

Mrs. Ito was there to help and Jun-Sensei, a young protégé of Ito-Sensei, also came by to instruct.

Ito Sensei helping Jessica and Jun Sensei helping Marvin. Learning how to make soba, like anything in Japan, is really a one-to-one experience!

What a treat! Ito-Sensei really got into physical beauty of making soba! He said learning to make soba takes ‘’3 years, 3 months and 3 days!’’ There are 14 steps, the first 6 (mixing) takes 3 years to learn properly, the next 4 steps for rolling takes 3 months, and the final the 3 steps for cutting takes 3 days.

Everyone got a wonderful demonstration for the whole process; mixing the soba flour with water and a little udon noodle flour (2 parts udon flour to 8 parts soba), then the ‘wax on, wax off’ finger style of mixing in a huge bowl, then hand rolling into a dough pyramid followed by pounding out the dough on the table into a circle (if your heart has a clean conscience, a perfect circle is easy Sensei said!), before using several rolling pins to make the dough 1.5cm thick in a square shape, and finally finishing by cutting the dough into long, thin strips with a very big, very sharp knife!

Afterwards, all the students had a go, with Ito-Sensei and Jun-Sensei madly moving from table to table to keep everyone on track through each step in the process! And the students did quite well, all having several servings of soba prepared. Ito-Sensei seemed very pleased (at least he didn’t make anyone start over from scratch).

Mrs. Ito also very kindly ran out to the local store to get very fresh Japanese sweet pears, which she peeled and cut up for us, adding them to small plates for everyone with edamame green beans!

The final meal, since it's summer 'zaru soba' or cold soba noodles, plus soya dipping sauce, sliced onion and grounded wasabi paste to mix into the dipping sauce (you determine how much you 'kick' you want) plus fesh pear and edamame. Wow, healthy, or as the Japanese say 'he-ru-shi!'

After everyone was done, Ito-Sensei deftly cooked up one serving that each person made in boiling water (another process with several precise steps) before we all sat down to enjoy the ‘soba of our labor’, trying to make loud slurping sounds as is custom when eating soba to improve the taste.

Jessica and Angeline try their best sluuurrrppp!

So everyone left feeling full, happy, and somewhat tired (from all the physical work, but also the heat outside and maybe still some lingering jetlag), but having for sure learned Japanese culture from nothing to something! It was also curious to see how the importance of one’s balance of movement with both sides of the body, the control of one’s center line and the awareness of the finer points of the process for soba-making kind of relate to the tea ceremony, to judo, to karate, demonstrating a further link between all the traditional customs of Japan. The sense of one learning a ‘way’, following a ‘path’ and the key to success being serious, consistent effort for years and years, with fun too along the way!

The final group shot, everyone stuffed and happy! Left to right: Richard, Angeline, Jessica, Mrs. Ito, Mr. Ito, Marvin, Justine and Mr. Fukuda.

At night Jessica and I attended a training session with the All-Japan National Karate Team Head Coach, Toshiaki Maeda, at his Monday night practice not far from the school.

Jessica, Maeda Sensei and Richard, all 'just' perspiring a little...!

We got lucky because few students attended the class (probably because it’s August) and Maeda Sensei kindly did not drill us into the ground due to the heat, but he shared with us several fine points about basic movement and how to prepare our body for countering an opponent’s attack in a sport’s karate match. Never overbearing or negative, and still moving faster than both of us even at age 53 (he grumbled he doesn’t want to turn 54 next week!) we had a great sweaty time before the practice seemed so quickly over.


August 5, 2007

Japan Experience Days 7 & 8 (Aug 4 & 5) Weekend Fun!

Tokyo Tower, from their online promo website.

This is just a short notice about what our Japan Experience students are up to with their home stay families this weekend. It's Sunday mid-day now, so at the time of writing this post, I know of the following activities everyone is up to.

Marvin got to enjoy swimming pool madness on Friday night, while on Saturday the Fukuda family planned to take him to Tokyo Tower to see the night lights of the city.

I just spoke to Mrs. Hanai, the home stay mom for Jessica, Angeline and Justine, and she told me yesterday her son Hidenori took them on a tour of their neighbourhood, then they went to karaoke!

Karaoke in Japan means going to an office building with several floors, each floor having many small rooms designed like little studios. with couches, a large TV monitor, high-tech karaoke machine, large singer's microphones, sometimes tamborines and a large low table. These are called 'karaoke boxes'. On the first floor is the front desk where a group of friends sign in, because you rent a karaoke box to sit with friends, sing your favorite songs, plus order food and drinks from the company's kitchen. Absolutely great fun, for sure friend-bonding plus a good stress releasing activity.

From the large chain karaoke company Big Echo, here is a picture from one of their online promotional campaigns.

High school students can normally rent karaoke boxes very cheaply since they normally go before office workers.

Today Mrs. Hanai said the 3 girls are off to explore other parts of Harajuku with a friend's daughter who knows the best spots to go to.

It's a very warm and sunny 35 degrees in Tokyo today, so a good day to either be inside air-conditioned stores or outside at pool or beach for sure! After many weeks of clouds, sunshine is most welcome.


August 3, 2007

Japan Experience Day 6 (Aug 3) Directions & sizes in Japanese, tea ceremony refined, national television & Shibuya 109 fashion!

Tea time, Japanese traditional that is!

While sleepy, perhaps recovering from jet lag and sauna-like day yesterday, our Japan Experience students still trooped into the school for the morning Japanese class. The beginners went over how to say 'that's a tall building!' to 'this is terrible coffee!', while the intermediates learned how to give multiple directions for multiple senarios.

Nakamura Sensei instructing Marvin.

After an email check break, a new Mrs. Nakamura, a wonderfully refined chado (tea ceremony) teacher, welcomed us into the school's traditional style tatami mat tea ceremony room. Nakamura-Sensei looked resplendent in a soft rose petal-colored silk kimono of many layars. Helping her were current Japanese students who are in the school's tea ceremony, plus graduate students who volunteered as well, which was really appreciated.

Sensei's wonderful helpers!

Nakamura-Sensei, using her excellent command of English, instructed us through each stage of the tea ceremony, right from how one enters the room from a small doorway (so that to leave all one's baggage of reality outside), to how to bow, add the tea powder to the cup, how to add hot water, then whisk it together before properly holding the cup to drink.

A tea ceremony club member makes tea very carefully ('cause Sensei's watching!)

We learned how to be the guests in the tea house and receive sweets before tea. Then tea is made by a host, in this case the Japanese girls were making tea first for us under Sensei's watchful eyes of course. Afterwards, everyone had a go, and dark green liquid was tried by all.

Everyone tries the smooth green tea!

Nakamura Sensei said that there are many types of tea depending which tree in Japan or China it is picked from. Plus tea can be light or thick, thick having more taste (and more cost)!

'Wakeseijaku', the Japanese calligraphy on the wall, meaning calm, peace, soothing, as you should feel during the tea ceremony.

A sense of serenity took over, the tea room it's own separate world and all too soon, time passed and we were done.

One young helper is so cute as she watches everyone from the kitchen in the next room...

Our Japan Experience students then had lunch of soba noodles mixed with cooked, sliced onion and boiled seaweed (plus a raw egg if they were feeling adventurous), plus rice and beef stew.


We rushed over to Akabane station and hopped a Saikyo-line train to Shibuya, an amazing city center full of whole buildings devoted to fashion, plus endless music stores, restaurants, pachinko parlors, bars and department stores of all kinds.


But before shopping, we got tickets to experience Japan's national television (NHK) channel's Studio Park interactive television center. A large facility inside NHK's huge main studio complex, it has a long walking tour with multiple displays describing how NHK creates it's magic, from TV news, dramas to radio and 3D shows.


Fun things included recording our own voices reading the script for a short animation AND then seeing it played back, seeing kids under 8 be the talent in a studio, all of us standing in front of a green while we saw an animated world of sea creatures swim around us, and also we experienced the first 3D no-3D-glasses-needed cinema in the world. Plus we made lots of little friends with the little people who were out in force with parents and friends.

Little ones rehearsing for the big-time someday!

A short hike from there we made out meeting point the front of the famous 109 fashion building, with it's endless fashions mainly for young women, not far from the world's craziest intersection, where thousands of people cross in all directions at the same time!

Shibuya's famous intersection!

Of course, no trip to Shibuya for the first time is not complete with out meeting Hachiko, the statue commerating the real like Akita-breed 4-legged wonder who from about 1924-36 always waited for it's master at Shibuya station (the area was actually more rural then), even after the master died early around 1925. This type of devotion made it famous sitting outside alone and the statue has become the most famous meeting point in all of Tokyo.

With the eternally loyal Hachiko!

Weekend plans for the students are to be with the home stay families, which I heard will include trips to Tokyo Tower, karaoke box singing, more shopping at Harajuku, learning how to wear kimonos, helping make tempura from scratch and possibly attending a local matsuri (festival). The students all seem to enjoy being with their home stays, plus for sure they'll enjoy a little more sleep over the next two days before we dive right back into more adventures in Tokyo!

August 3, 2007

Japan Experience Day 5 (Aug 2) weather & shopping in conversational Japanese, visiting Electronic Town & kicking it up with karate!

Principal Fukuda kindly leads us to Akihabara, Electronic Town, on one of Tokyo's super handy trains!

After a brief sideways heavy typhoon-like rain this morning, everyone arrived safely ready to go for Day 5. I heard the girls had made tempura with their home stay mom Mrs. Hanai the night before, or at least they got to dip things into the pan with her directions. (Mrs. Hanai said she will teach them the whole process from scratch when they have more time on the weekend.)

Again it was off to the language races with our Japanese lesson, the beginner's group learning handy shopping Japanese from Richard-Sensei and the intermediate group learning how to talk about the weather with Yano-Sensei. Since we're just getting the typhoon part of the year, also the really hot part of summer, weather chatting is in season and everyone says the same two sentences like robots!

Atsui ne! (It's hot, eh!)
So desu ne, Atsuuuuiii! (Yes, it sure isssss!)

With the next person, just repeat conversation.

Train map of central Tokyo city! The green line is the Yamanote-line that goes both ways. Akihabara is the big red square. Akabane is just north, you can see the price 210 yen for it. Traveling on trains is, just pay the distance you want to go!

Akihabara Station east exit!

After the Japanese lesson, everyone did email checks during the morning break, picked up bento lunches made by the school cook, and we were off the day's ensoku (outing). The Principal actually lead us on the train to Akihabara, Electronic Town, the district of Tokyo crammed with numerous buildings selling all sort of the lastest electronics, DVDs, CDs, plus anything and everything related to Japanese anime (animation) and manga (comics).

Jessica strikes a samurai pose!

Akihabara has really become a mecca for all these things, and I heard today foreigners make up almost one third of the people who visit the area! (90% of foreigners in Japan are Asians, many here to study in engineering or sciences at university.) Customers buy three main things; digital cameras, anything electronic, and anything deriving from the anime/manga fantasy world.

No, it's not real bottled sweat, it's just a popular sport's drink you can buy everywhere!

The term Akiba has been coined to mean a person who loves everything Akihabara has to offer, to the point all their income is spent on items from here, including costumes of the favorite anime/manga characters (referred to as cosplay).


A whole Sega building!

Young women in trendy maid's costumes hand out flyers for stores on the street, while salesmen rap in Japanese through megaphones about great and cheap their latest products are! Cosplay anyone?


(Useful tip; getting travellers checks cashed is best done at large bank branches near main train stations or at a large post office, as the smaller banks and post offices don't handle foreign currency.)

Our electronic purchases done, we assembled to head back to school for karate!

Upon return to the school, we participated in a practice with the co-ed karate club, which included junior high school students and graduates from the school also present to offer more people for us to workout with.


Bowing in seiza, running around to warm-up, playing ?'karate tag?' with a partner, stretching, punches, kicks, kata and sparring drills were the order of the day.

Marvin dodging a roundhouse kick!

Jessica performing kata under the watchful eyes of Shun Tanaka, a graduate and many times kata champion!

The atmosphere was kept relaxed and welcoming, which Jessica, Angeline and Marvin may not have expected (all being karate athletes back home), perhaps thinking the more common drill-sergent karate instructor style was most prevalent in Japan like in other countries. But actually there are different ways to teach karate, and a fun, but serious method allows the athletes to be relaxed, move faster and think of a more wide variety of skills to be used then a rigid approach.

The group!

We ended with group pictures and hand-shakes, sharing final words in each other's language, and then time having flown by, the Japan Experience students were off to their home stays for dinner. We were happy to see Justine, Jessica and Angeline confidently using the bus on their own now to get to and from school, while Marvin was lucky because Mr. Fukuda took him to some fun spot in the city for dinner with his family.

You have 3 seconds, quick, get to another spot!

Although somewhat tired from heat & jet lag, which sort of kicks in a few days after arrival for most foreigners from far off lands and totally different time zones), for sure it was another successful day. Tomorrow, the tea ceremony, and a chance to be on national Japanese TV!

August 2, 2007

Japan Experience Day 4 (Aug 1) more language training, hand-rolled sushi & youth street fashion!

Masuda Sensei and Nakamura Sensei preparing for our late morning temaki (roll by hand) sushi lesson!

Our routine established, we began our day with the Japanese lesson, for the beginners learning how to ask what nationality someone is (a very common question all foreigners are asked here). The intermediate group worked on English-loan words in Japanese, like pasokon (computer).

After an email check during the break, the cooking teachers Mrs. Nakamura and Ms. Masuda welcomed us into the cool, spacious cooking lab to learn how to make temaki-sushi (hand-rolled sushi).


A huge welcome notice was on the board drawn-up by the cooking club students, and the lab was thoroughly prepared for our lesson, many tables having been laid out with various cooking ingredients, instruments, bowls, etc.


Justine madly fanning the rice to cool it as the vinegar/sugar/salt mixture is added by Masuda Sensei!

Temaki sushi involves making sweet sushi rice, after which one puts a serving (clump) onto a dried seaweed sheet, adds one or more fillings (cut up raw fish, vegetables, cooked egg, etc), then adds green wasabi (Japanese horse radish), rolls it all into an open funnel, dunks it into soy sauce and presty, takes a hearty bite!


Nakamura Sensei first led the students through preparing the food which can be chosen for putting inside the temaki sushi. Cucumber, boiled shitake mushrooms, tuna mixed with Japanese mayonnaise (a little sweeter than normal Western mayo), and several varieties of fish, scallops and shrimp. Really, one can choose to make any fillings they like.

The students also learned to make chawan-mushi, a savory egg custard served in a tea tumbler (chawan). Eggs, chicken, shitake soy sauce (shoyu) and some vegetables are cut thinly, steamed then simmered. In addition, the students learned to make miso soup, a very common side dish at all Japanese meals.


For making sushi rice, Nakamura Sensei poured the vinegar-sugar-salt mixture into a large bowl the rice had been placed in, then all the students beat hand fans over the rice quickly to help the mixture evenly stick to the rice, and not become slushy. And, how did it taste…?


Must have been fine since everyone dug into after saying grace in Japanese, Itadakimasu! No student braved adding wasabi, but the teachers did that’s for sure (wasabi contest anyone?)

The student’s have been really looking forward to today’s afternoon plan (especially Angeline, our future fashion designer!) because we were off to Harajuku!

Everyone at Takeshita Dori (street), the main youth fashion street!

Beginning of Takeshita Dori.

Near the end of Takeshita Dori, but lots and lots of side roads from this point, plus the more upscale Omotesando Road is just around the corner.

Harajuku is an area of Tokyo famous for youth fashion, with tons of small stores crammed into several long, small streets, each selling completely different takes on the latest street trends. Please check out the many pictures taken below!


A happy camper in the crowd! Many foreigners come to Harajuku as well from all sorts of countries.

Inside a store, many being very different from each other.

Writing a prayer on a shiny piece of paper and tying it to a tree, as one does during the Tanabata festival on July 7th. In this case, a milk company was doing a promotion with the front of the paper having its logo... um, maybe pray for the milk not to go bad too soon...

Marvin inside Omotesando Hills shopping center, which is chock full of brand name stores.

I was very happy to see smiles on everyone’s faces at the end of several hours of shopping, gazing, talking to people and simply surviving the rush of energy and humid heat of the day! Several kilos of shopping bags were carried back onto the trains as we headed for the school to the meet the home stay families.

The purpose of the Japan Experience, as one can see now, is to be immersed in Japan! The average group trip to Japan has people zooming from temple, to sightseeing spot, back on the bus and/or bullet train, to another temple, and then again to another sightseeing spot, that by the end of a week or more, the visitors to Japan have only a good idea of the infrastructure and what old religious centers look like. But with our program the hope is the students will dive really into the life of a Japanese person.

For sure they would are experiencing the life of Japan fully. Even just calling the home stay mom, Mrs. Hanai, today around 5pm to say the girls were still exploring and discovering, to please keep some dinner for them, got a great laugh of acceptance by the her, knowing full well the furious adventure of being in the world’s shopping capital can create.

But there are of course many important educational moments throughout the day and we keep trying to point them out as we go along, especially in relation to Japanese customs.

During cooking, we talked about making sure others are served first or at least to food and drink for everyone before one personally begins to eat. Even the Japanese custom of washing as many dishes used in the preparation of the food as possible while one is cooking was an eye opener, the custom purpose on there being less to do in terms of clean-up after the meal.

While at Harajuku, we discussed how Japanese high school students come to Harajuku in normal clothes, then get all dressed up in their favorite colorful fashions (especially on Sundays), only to get completely cleaned up before going home. The purpose (other than not upsetting one’s parents when leaving the house!), is that self-expression for Japanese sometimes has a proper place and time, that one doesn’t need to always be expressing what they think.

At school Japanese students wear uniforms to be focused on school, which is considered not a time to be overly expressive (debatable of course, but getting into university requires focus). We talked about the importance of allowing others to share in their thoughts perhaps first, which is the Japanese custom of asking others for their opinion before expressing one’s own, a sense of respect to someone else and simply to humble oneself. Even the simple act of standing up and giving a nice, warm Ohayo Gozaimasu! (Good morning!) to others when one first sees them is a way to promote positive energy at school or at work that for the Japanese is important to keeping society (all 33 million of them crammed together in Tokyo and its surrounding suburbs) getting along smoothly.

This is not to say Japan is perfect, like any country it has it good and bad points, but there the sense of harmony by being more aware of those around us I think we are all appreciating a little more.

And of course, at the end of the day, more bubbly Seiritsu students say hi, perhaps wide-eyed to see so many foreigners (with so many shopping bags today!) walking around the school!

August 1, 2007

Japanese Experience Day 3 (July 31) ancient calligraphy & Totoro up close and personal!

Studio Ghibli Museum!

Today started off with everyone jumping right into the Japanese lesson. Yano Sensei's intermediate group of Justine and Marvin seemed to be covering a wide range of topics from music to memory recall, while the Richard Sensei's beginner group of Jessica and Angeline learned how to introduce themselves in Japanese.

During the mid-morning break, everyone checked emails in the school's computer room. One of the Japanese girl's studying in the room seemed to know the passwords to log into the school's system, which was very nice of her.

For our late-morning daily Japanese culture class, we were graced with the wonderful presence of the Principal's wife, Mrs. Haruko Fukuda, who is a Japanese shodo (calligraphy) teacher.


Mrs. Fukuda led everyone through the basics of how to hold the brush, how to make strong and cursive strokes, plus how to give one's calligraphy a sense of purpose.


When she liked what she saw, she drew a big swirling circle in red over it (which is a shodo teachers way to mark something is correct, plus to pretty it up!), or she drew over one's lines to show how to improve on one's next attempt. She seemed quite pleased and made lots red flower images out of the many red circles she put on the student's efforts.


The kanji characters covered were hana (flower), yume (dream), ryuu (dragon), mizu (water), and hooseki (jewel).


For lunch, the school cook Akakura-san made spaghetti and hot dogs, which surprised the students, perhaps they were expecting more Japanese food (yesterday was chicken kaarage, small sausages and rice mixed with vegetables). But at the school, the Japanese students have several choices each day of freshly cooked food ranging from curry and rice, spaghetti, soba or udon noodles, kaarage (dry fried chicken) and then something different each day, which could even be several Chinese food dishes.

Then by 12:30pm, we were off to the Studio Ghibli Museum (pronounced ji-bu-li). This is the home of the world famous animator Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of the wonderful anime movies My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away (which he won an Oscar for) and Howl's Castle to name a few.

From Akabane station near the school, we took the JR (Japan Rail) Saikyo train to the world's largest train station, Shinjuku-eki, used by over 3 million people a day on about 13 trains. From Shinjuku we rode the JR Chuo line west to Mitaka City, where there are special Totoro Neko Buses (neko means cat) waiting outside to take people to the museum.

Totoro selling tickets!

The museum itself was a magical place, enjoyable for both young and young at heart! Everyone is greeted by a huge Totoro at the entrance gate, sitting inside a ticket booth. The museum's motto is 'Let's become lost children together.'

The entrance of the museum.

The buildings of the museum are sort of like an expanded hobbit house, with many rooms, each filled with a theme. One is how animation is created, showing individual pages used for creating a moving image (pages are called cells), plus there were models which are either stationary or spin rapidly with strobe lights to create the illusion of motion.

The kid's play room with a huge neko bus! Marvin (and Richard!) were tempted to dive into the fun, but there was a height restriction - little people up to our knees allowed only... :(

Other rooms are filled with interactive characters, re-created sets how an old animator's studio would look like, various sizes of animation equipment on active display, plus two rooms simple with large Ghibli characters to play on for kids.

There was a short 16min film that was showed in a theater, called Kujira-tori (Whale Hunt) about some Japanese kindergarten boys who make an imaginery boat out of large building blocks inside their school. But somehow water flows in and they end up floating out to sea and befriend a whale. It was interesting to see how the kindergarten kids all worked together, their sweet and polite approach to being organized was sort of symbolizing that great Japanese desire for everyone to work as a harmonized group. Seeing it portrayed on-screen by these little school kids letting their minds run wild was a treat.

Our Japan Experience student's reactions to the museum ranged from being just super, over-the-moon happy to be there (like Marvin who's a huge fan of Miyazaki) to others being intrigued by the wide variety of creativity, to simply the sense of the magic of the premises.
All seemed to be in agreement is was well worth the visit!

Coming back to the school at day's end we took some time to walk through Shinjuku station to see the multitude of standing noodle shops, drug stores, coffee shops and countless newsstands, all within side the gates.

Walking back from Akabane station to the school to meet the home stay families, we kept bumping into regular Seiritsu students on their way to the station to go home after basketball practice or summer studies. The Seiritsu students, especially the girls, are very friend and it seemed like several conversations were sprung up with different groups just simply walking back to school.

Again, it seemed we had another great day, definitely living and breathing as one with the city. And soooooo many Japanese people were jealous we got to go to the Studio Ghibli Museum during a working day! Actually we made sure to buy little presents from the gift shop to keep those home stay smiles coming our way



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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