July 31, 2008

Japan Experience! 2008 - Day 4 - Studio Ghibli & Karate

Hello again for Day 4 of the Japan Experience! The schedule for Day 4 was quite busy, including a Japanese lesson, a train ride to Studio Ghibli Animation Museum, and a chance to practice karate with the Seiritsu High School Karate Team.

Studio Ghibli is a world renowned animation studio famous for films such as My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke. The museum is an amazingly detailed look at the world of Studio Ghilbli's founder, Hayao Miyazaki, and the museum itself is designed with lots of little passages linking all the areas so that one can explore it freely.

After that, we headed back to Seiritsu and everyone got changed for a 1 hour workout with the Seiritsu Karate Team. The training included a warm up, a run through the basic punches and kicks, a chance to hit the target pads, a series of self-defense drills, and then demos by the Seiritsu Team.

All in all, an excellent day out!

Pictures from Studio Ghibli:

I caught Shirlene (left) and France (right) taking a break from a neat little water fountain.

Claudia (left) and Victor (right) after some souvenir shopping.

Surprise! This is Nicholas (top) and Bryce (bottom) on their way to the next exhibit.

Xenia in front of the gift shop... I wonder how much she bought...

Karen (left) and Jocelyn (right) with their home stay sister, Misaki Arai (middle).

Special thanks to "Big Totoro" for working the ticket booth.

Seiritsu Karate Dojo:

All the students paired up with a Seiritsu team member for some drills. Rui (left) and Yuka (right), two second year (grade 11) karate members 'peacing' for the camera!

France working with her partner on some punching combos.

Victor's strong legs made for a great kick.

Nicholas and Bryce working with their partners.

Haiya!! Karen lands a good punch on the target mitts.

Good thing the bag is soft, considering how strong Jocelyn's kick was...

... and Claudia's.

Xenia got the hang of it really quickly.

After the drills, the students got a chance to do some very light sparring drills with their partners. Bryce, with his black belt in Shotokan karate, strapped on some gloves and got to go at it (lightly) with Hiroki, a Seiritsu team member.

But even without gloves, the kids all had a great time. This is Shirlene practicing with the team's vice-captain, Sayaka.

What makes a karate picture? A fighting pose!


July 30, 2008

Japan Experience! 2008 - Day 3 - Cooking & Asakusa

Having spent yesterday at the school, all the students met on Tuesday eager to get outside and see some sights.

The schedule for Day 3 included their Japanese class in the morning, Japanese cooking from 10:45am-12:30pm, and the Asakusa district & Sensoji Temple from 1pm-3:30.

The cooking class was one of two scheduled for the program and the menu the students prepared included string bean salad with sesame dressing, miso soup, and chirashi sushi, which is a bowl of Japanese sushi rice with various kinds of seafood on top.

The students also got to see Sensoji Temple, the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, as well as explore Asakusa, which used to be downtown Tokyo and is now a major tourist destination.

Everyone had a great time (despite the heat and humidity) and, as usual, I had my finger on the shutter button...

The large kitchen at Seiritsu had more than enough space for all the students to try their hand at making Japanese food.

A big thank you to Mayumi Masuda Sensei (left) and Etsuko Kadowaki Sensei (right) who led the cooking class.

France was all smiles while making the sesame dressing for the salad.

Masuda Sensei and Kadowaki Sensei showed a very neat way of gently cutting the tofu while holding it on their hand, a skill Claudia picked up quickly.

Victor prepares miso soup by using miso powder and gradually dissolving it into the water.

Slice & dice! This is Karen preparing the cucumbers for the chirashi sushi.

Also in chirashi sushi is fried egg and Bryce helped prepare some in a special egg frying pan.

With all of it prepared, everyone got to make their own bowl of chirashi sushi, filling it with whatever raw fish they like (tuna, salmon, cooked shrimp, squip, snapper and salmon eggs). Here Xenia shows her bowl of chirashi sushi.

The teachers had brought LOTS of ingredients and, determined not to waste any food, Nicholas and Jocelyn filled their bowls all the way up.

Shirlene's bowl of chirashi sushi moments before it was eaten.

"Chopsticks? Who needs chopsticks?", says hungry Nic.

The group with their soon-to-be-eaten lunch.

After lunch, we took the train to Asakusa Station and along the way, Richard Sensei explained various bits and pieces of Tokyo and Japanese culture.

The path from the front gate to the Sensoji Temple is lined with many small souvenir shops.

In Japan, they say if you weren't in the picture, you weren't there! This was taken in front of the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the first of two large gates on the path to the Sensoji Temple.


July 29, 2008

Japan Experience! 2008 - Day 2 - Shodo

After a great night with their home stay families, everyone met Monday morning for an easy start to the Japan Experience activities.

We began with a Welcome Ceremony, during which the Principal Mr. Kohei Fukuda, Vice-Principal Mr. Kurihara, and Director Mr. Yohei Fukuda each gave a short opening speech. This was followed by the students going through an Orientation about the program and school. After that, everyone had a Japanese class (there is a Japanese class every day in the morning), followed by lunch and then a shodo (Japanese calligraphy) lesson.

Everyone had a great time and the best way to show just how much fun everyone had is through pictures!

Opening Ceremony picture: In the front row, from L to R is Richard Sensei (JE08 Manager), Mr. Fukuda (Seiritsu Director), Mr. Fukuda (Seiritsu Principal), Mr. Kurihara (Seiritsu Vice-Principal), Yano Sensei (Japanese teacher), and Lawrence Sensei (JE08 staff).

Yano Sensei leading the students (Claudia and Shirlene, in this picture) through their first Japanese class of the trip.

After the lesson, they all had lunch which was graciously prepared by the school's chef, Akakura-san.

Itadakimasu! (Let's eat!)

From 1:30-3pm, there was a shodo (Japanese calligraphy) class taught by Maruo Sensei and his two assistants, Ohno Sensei and Makise Sensei. Maruo Sensei is a famous shodo artist and he often publishes his artwork in national newspapers.

After a short intro, everyone was eager to get to task, slowly discovering for themselves the intricacies of shodo.

Despite the picture, this really is Nicholas, holding up one of his kanji, "ove" (ai).

Everyone got to do a special piece on a wall display card at the end of the lesson, so Xenia was hard at work perfecting her skill. Her practice piece says ''bi' or "beautiful" in the middle, and her name down the sides.

Everyone soon graduated to writing on the scroll-length paper so they could write phrases. This is France just finishing her "love song", (ai no uta).

Not to be out-done, Victor made two prints of "summer sun" (natsu no taiyo).

All the kanji in orange are samples written by Maruo Sensei as templates and the students aim to match the samples. Bryce's "love" (ai) gets pretty close to the sample, doesn't it?

Then Maruo Sensei showed us his specialty, which is "giant shodo" with a "big brush". "No problem!", says Karen after a great piece.

One of the things everyone agreed on was that shodo is a lot more difficult than it first looks. This is Claudia hard at work on "summer" (natsu).

But by the end of the day, all of them were making excellent prints, like Shirlene's "summer sun"(natsu no taiyo).

Or Jocelyn's "Glass Rain".

At the end of the day, everyone got to take home all their prints, plus their favourite phrase written on a special wall display board (Victor, Bryce, and Nicholas are holding up theirs).


July 28, 2008

14th Australian Home Stay for Japanese Students!

From July 13-23, 32 Seiritsu high school students and 3 teachers took part in the 14th Annual Seiritsu Australian Home Stay. Here's everyone in front of the Sydney Opera House.

Activities included basketball with local Australian students, gold panning at an old gold mine, horseback riding and hiking through huge caves.

Riding horses for the first time!

A student getting to meet a koala up close also for the first time!

Students getting ready to have lunch.

The famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

July 28, 2008

Japan Experience Day 1 - Welcome!

Welcome indeed! This Sunday July 27th, all 9 of this year's Japan Experience! members arrived safely at Narita Airport to meet the staff and their home stays. Despite some long flights and heavy bags, they all arrived with no problems and big smiles.

The activity for the day? Meet their home stay families and get some much deserved rest. The fun starts tomorrow!

JAL passengers disembarking

Among the first to arrive were Victor and Claudia from Germany, seen here with Victor's home stay, the Kimura family.

Shirlene arrived from Malaysia and she and Claudia had to wait a bit for the rest of their home stay group, so we (Fukuda Sensei, Richard Sensei, and Lawrence Sensei) all went for some lunch.

...... as well as some ice cream to beat the heat!!

Bryce from Canada meeting his home stay, the Mizuno family.

When France and Xenia also arrived from Canada, they along with Shirlene and Claudia were taken by Fukuda-Sensei to the Hanai family home stay house, which has become our unofficial international home stay headquarters! Mrs. Hanai is a former school PTA president, and an expert at the art of wearing a kimono.

Nicholas arrived from Hong Kong in the mid-afternoon so Lawrence Sensei took Nic to his home stay at the Koyama family's house, where he got along very well, especially with Koyama-san's two dogs.

While Jocelyn (3rd from right) arrived midday, her home stay partner Karen (4th from right), both from Hong Kong, arrived last around 8pm. Here they are finally at their home stay with the ever-happy, ever-smiley Arai family.

July 8, 2008

The Difference Between Japanese and New Zealand Soccer!

Dylan playing for the New Zealand Central United Team at the 2007 Nike Cup World Finals in England.

In the months that I have been in Japan so far I have found out a lot about the differences between NZ and Japanese soccer. There are many differences and ups and downs about the two as they are completely different. The main differences are the speed of the Japanese game, the competition in the trainings and the games every day and weekend.

New Zealand style of soccer is a lot different to Japanese as the game as it is a lot slower and you have a lot more time on the ball to think. In Japan whenever you get the ball you are pressured so you have to think before you get the ball. The fitness of the other Japanese players as well keeps the game fast for the full game as Japanese football relies a lot on fitness. If you are not fit enough then it is a lot harder to get the ball which makes it a lot harder to play well.

As you probably know there are around 127 million people living in Japan so there are so many people playing soccer. In New Zealand there is only 4 million people which makes it hard for there to be much competition. New Zealand has a unique style of playing, but it is not developed enough yet to be able to compete at a world-class level. As there are so many people in Japan it makes the competition level a lot harder which makes improving much easier compared to New Zealand since in Japan you are playing at a high level every day plus on weekends.

Dylan in his Seiritsu dorm room!

There are many differences between Japanese and NZ soccer, advantages and disadvantages. Both have a unique style and for the last 8 years I have been learning about the NZ style. Now it is time for me to move on to learning about a new advanced way to improve my soccer level.

Dylan Windust

July 8, 2008

My favorite Japanese TV program!


Recently there has been a new TV drama called “Rookies” in Japan and I have really started to like it. I’m surprised because when I first came to Japan, I was 99% sure I would never come to like Japanese TV. However the Rookies series are different to the other dramas and I like it for three main reasons. It is an awesome drama to watch because is sport related, has a good storyline, and it’s different to the normal life of the Japanese people which I see every day.

Whenever there is something to do with sport, I get interested. Because I play soccer, it’s easier for me to relate to things if they are about sport. Rookies is good because it is a chance for me to learn about a new sport which I used to think was extremely boring.

The storyline of “Rookies” is about a group of teenage students who are bad in every possible way. These students regularly get into fights and they’re always getting into trouble. This story is about how they join a baseball team, and discover a new dream which is the “koushien” (the name of the biggest high school baseball competition in Japan). It is how they overcome obstacles such as rival schools without getting into fights, and by winning fairly (which is not something they are used to).

The high school students of this school are different to the other students that I see every day in my life. In Japan most people are shy, withdrawn and don’t show their feelings much. However, in this drama all the characters have the exact opposite characteristics. If there is something the guys don’t agree with they will definitely do something about it. Although in movies, the resolutions are usually done through violence, it excites me to see in this show that they are actually doing something about their problem.

“Rookies” is an awesome drama and I think everybody in the world who can speak Japanese should watch it because it is fun, and you can also see another side to of Japan and its people.

If you can read Japanese, here is the official homepage for the show.

Ryosuke Yano

July 8, 2008

Summer is Coming!

Jason and another student who won some running races this summer, holding their winner's certificates!

Hi everyone, it seems like it's been quite some time since my previous blog. It’s the start of July and summer holidays are just around the corner. There will be a lot going on this summer. On the soccer pitch we will have extra games and trainings and off the pitch I will have more time to hang out with my Japanese and foreign friends. Some of these things I am looking forward to (and some of them I am not).

There are many enjoyable things that I experienced during summer last year which I am looking forward to do again. On the pitch I can’t wait to play in the summer games and go on the soccer camps. Off the pitch I can’t wait to get a nice tan, just hang out and relax with my friends.

Although there are many enjoyable things about summer, there are some things that I am not looking forward to. For example, on the pitch I am not looking forward to the double training sessions in 30-35 degree heat we have and getting burnt while having them.

Even though there are some things about summer that I am not looking forward to, all in all I think this summer will be great and I can’t wait for it. Hopefully I will have as much fun as I did with me Japanese friends last year!

Jason Davidson

July 8, 2008

Japan Experience 2008 Participants! Plus Activities Update!

The second annual Japan Experience! registration deadline has passed, and this year we will have students of many nationalities visiting us.



Polish via Germany!


Canadians via Hong Kong!

Additional activities confirmed for this year!

Sophia University Open House
I have confirmed a reservation for our Japan Experience students at Sophia University's Open House event. Sophia is one of the most popular universities in Japan for foreigners to study at in English and/or Japanese both in under-graduate and graduate programs. The Open House will have loads of interactive activities, department explanations and club introductions, plus there will be staff on hand to answer our questions.
(Sophia does offer grants for foreign students, as does the Ministry of Education).

Manga Drawing Class
Top manga artist Atsuhisa Okura has agreed to teach our manga class. Recently he created a history of manga for Wired Magazine!
You can read here: http://www.wired.com/special_multimedia/2007/1511_ff_manga


July 8, 2008

School Trip to Hokkaido!


From June 20 to June 25, a large group of second year students flew up to the north island of Hokkaido to enjoy outdoor activities like horse-back riding, hiking, learning about Ainu native culture plus eating lots of local crab (it is said that everyone puts on 3 to 4kg during the Hokkaido trip)!



July 8, 2008

School Trip to Okinawa!


From June 20 to June 25, a large group of second year students (grade 11) went to warm Okinawa on an annual school trip! They enjoyed lots of water related activities plus they got to stay near the beach!



July 8, 2008

School Trip to New Zealand!


From June 19 to June 24, 44 students and 3 teachers plus a guide traveled to New Zealand! The students stayed for a few days on local farms and near the end of the trip, the group visited a Maori Cultural Center.







about Seiritsu

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

≫more info