January 16, 2009

Holiday in New Zealand

New Zealand U-17 vs Chile U-18. Can you spot Dylan on the starting line?

On January 12th I arrived back from my holiday in New Zealand which started on December 23rd. My holiday in New Zealand was mostly spent in a small place on the North Island called Whangamata. During the holidays this place is a very popular area for people to go because of its wonderful beach and small but spacious atmosphere.

My days in Whangamata mostly consisted of going to the beach around midday after sleeping-in and swimming and sunbathing until around 4 o’clock. After this I would go for a run to keep the fitness up and then relax until bedtime.

A good thing about Whangamata during the new year period is there are bands down at the surf club every night which makes sure that there is always something to do no matter what time of the day it is, as these bands run until 11 or 12 o’clock every night. During the day there are surfing and boogie board competitions on for all levels so anyone can enter.

My time in Whangamata will never be forgotten especially coming back from a hard working country like Japan and then having that experience will make it unforgettable. My plans for next year are the same and I will be counting down the days until I can return.

While I was in New Zealand I also had the chance to train and play for the NZ Under-17 National Team where we had a one week training camp which included two games against Chile Under-18 National Team. I was a starting member in both games but we lost the games 1-0 and 3-0 though we put up a good fight against a team that was a year older than us. Now I am just waiting to hear the final squad that will be named to play in the U-17 world cup in 2009. Crossing my fingers!

By Dylan Windust

January 13, 2009

Harajuku Blues

A common sight in Harajuku.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Long time no see everyone! This time I’m going to talk a bit about something I saw a lot of during my winter break.

Many people have different forms of expressing themselves. For some it’s poetry, for other it’s drawing, and for the Harajuku teens, it’s dressing up.

Having spent most of my Winter break in Harajuku and Shibuya, I got to see a lot of these `Harajuku Teens`. These are people usually from ages 16 to 28 that dress up in gothic-style or outrageous rainbow colored clothing. Basically they try and look as original as they can according to their own tastes. This is their way of expressing themselves, by wearing their art. Each piece is picked carefully for best effect, usually coming from the various Harajuku shops that actually specialize this type of clothing.

You can find these Harajuku kids almost anywhere in Harajuku, as it’s not that big. They seem to spend most of their time by the main bridge next to Harajuku station that lead into the Meiji-jingu Shrine. They also usually come together on Sundays.

If you can’t find them there, they are probably in shops or roaming about, and some of them don’t mind having pictures taken of them and rather enjoy the attention, but ask before you snap a shot.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

- Dave

January 13, 2009

Cosmo Clock in Yokohama

Yokohama's Cosmo Clock at night.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Hi everyone. My winter break was a bit boring but one interesting thing I did was I went to Yokahama with my Thai friends.

There, we rode the Cosmo Clock, a large ferris wheel. We waited in line for almost one hour. It is very famous because it is a very romantic ferris wheel and is very popular among young couples. The ferris wheel is a part of the Minato-mirai amusement park. It is 344ft and was the tallest ferris wheel in the world when it was built in 1989. From the top you can see Rainbow Bridge, a large suspension bridge across Tokyo Bay. It was a very picturesque view for everyone.

They also have good service at the ferris wheel. They will take your photo and you can buy it after your ride. I recommend going there in evening because the ferris wheel has very colorful lights as well. For any one who coming to Yokohama I highly recommend riding the Cosmo Clock.

Yokohama also has a biggest China town in Japan. You can find almost every type of Chinese food here and it was very interesting. The mascot for Yokohama is panda and there were many panda toys and dolls for sale.

From Tokyo the easiest way to go to Yokohama is to take JR Keihin-tohoku train line, which takes about an hour from central Tokyo. I found that Yokohama had better architecture than Tokyo which makes it a very nice area to live in.


January 13, 2009

Happy New Year from Japan!

Hey everyone! Vacation is over and today is our first day at school since a long time. It’s nice to see everyone again, but to be honest I wouldn’t mind to have an extra week free. I really enjoyed my vacation, especially January 1st.

We didn’t do much at New Years Eve, just watched a lot of boy bands singing on a huge stage. (Boy bands are extremely popular here).

The next day we woke up early to go to my host mom’s father’s grave to clean it. It was a nice experience because it’s really Japanese to do such a thing. After a few hours back at home, we all went to my host grandmother’s house, where the whole family gathered. It was a lot of fun and everyone was very nice to me. The whole day I ate and drink so much that even I was impressed. We also played bingo (haha) and I won a few prizes. I really want to spend more time with my cousins, they are awesome. I felt great after that day, like I was really part of the Yamada family.

Now that my Japanese is improving I can finally talk with my host family more and I'm becoming a lot closer to them. I’m sure it will be sad when I have to go back to Holland. I'm almost at the half-way point of my stay here, time really flies.

I think it will be so different when I go back home. I thought my city was crowed, but it’s nothing compared to Tokyo. There are almost twice as much people here in Tokyo than in my whole country. Yeah, that’s a lot.

Ok the period is almost over. We have a break now. I can’t wait to have some fried chicken at the school caf醇P, its been a long time...


January 13, 2009

New Year Ekiden

Ryoji Matsushita crossing the finish line.

Every year on January 1st in Japan, they have a big marathon known as the New Year Ekiden.

Students from twenty different universities, which are part of the Inter-University Athletic Union of Kanto, participate in this event. The two day run from Otemachi to Hakone and back has now become one of the most important and popular events for New Year's Day, and over one million people come to the race course to cheer the runners on.

Personally, I only like to watch the last spurt of the runners at the finish line because watching the whole race would take up two whole days. However, Japanese people love this event because it is a good way for people to come together with friends and also make new friends.

The ekiden first started in 1920 and it has now become one of the traditions of Japanese culture.

This year Ryoji Matsushita of Fujitsu won the race.

-Ryosuke Yano

January 9, 2009

Happy New Year!

A display in a shrine depicting the coming of the Year of the Ox.

With the 2008 come and gone, it's time now to look forward to 2009, the Year of the Ox.

Based off the Chinese 12-year astrological zodiac, different animals are associated with different years of birth. It is believed, like in Western astrology and its constellations, that these animals influence a person's character and personality. Oxen include those born in 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, and of course, 2009.

It is believed that Oxen are:
Dependable, calm, methodical, patient, hardworking, ambitious, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, and tenacious.

However, they can at times also be:
Stubborn, narrow-minded, materialistic, rigid, or demanding.

Besides that though, there are lots of things in Japan related to the coming of the new year. For starters, houses are cleaned thoroughly (susuharai, or soot-sweeping) to prepare the house for the new year but, more importantly, to symbolize the cleaning of the spirit to start the year anew.

Of course, the new year wouldn't be a new year without food and there are various traditional Japanese dishes prepared for the holiday season. Most common of all is mochi which is steamed rice pounded into cakes. It is often made before the new year and eaten at the beginning of January. Often times, two mounds of mochi are made into a decoration known as kagami mochi with a bitter orange on top to symbolize longevity.

Other ceremonies around Japan include the midnight tolling of large bells, a tradition known as joya-no-kane, at various Buddhist temples across Japan. Struck with a large wooden log-cum-mallet on the outside of the bell, the bell is struck 108 times in order to rid people of the 108 sins that Buddhists believe are found in man. Particularly famous is Kyoto's Chion-in Temple which houses one of the largest bells in the world at 74 tons.

Lastly, new year's traditions are topped off with New Year's cards (nengajo) mailed to friends and family as well as otoshidama, small colourful envelopes with money given to children similar to Chinese Red Envelopes.

With all that happening, it's no wonder that the New Year is one of the busiest times in Japan. And everyone at the Seiritsu International Department hopes that you had a safe and happy holiday season as well!

Happy 2009!



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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