August 7, 2010

Japan Experience! 2010 Day 9


It’s Day 9 already! Where to begin… but at the beginning! The students arrived a little earlier to prepare for the Higashi-Jujo Festival and today’s Sayonara Party.

As soon as thank you cards to each other and staff were scribbled on with happy feelings and little pictures, everyone put on ‘happi’ coats worn for Japanese festivals.

While a lead drum was pulled by local families through the back streets of the Higashi-Jujo area where Seiritsu is located, a large ‘mikoshi’ and kids ‘mikoshi’ portable shrines were heaved and hoed through the streets by enthusiastic revelers, from high school students to very energetic senior gentlemen.


The Japan Experience students did a wonderful job of lifting both mikoshi around the streets to much shouting and cheering, all designed to scare away the demons, call out to the gods, and to bless the homes it passes. At each rest stop during the two hour journey, groups of neighbors had already set up tables covered with fried chicken, sausages, cut up fruit and vegetables, not to mention huge coolers stocked with drinks chilling in ice.

The Seiritsu Kokusai Kyoikubu (International Department) staff Richard (left) and Nick (right)

Upon returning to the school, first to bless it, then walk the mikoshi around it before finally coming to a rest in front of its storage shed. But before it could finally be lowered, the revelers had to shake it madly and shout at the top of their lungs to prove they were good and done with the blessing of the area. As soon as it rested down, copious amounts of curry and rice was brought out of the school by even more neighbors and staff for everyone to eat, and of course refreshments were liberally passed around.

But no, that’s just the morning, because before the students could even finish their meals (as the mikoshi were late getting back), the kitchen staff had completed preparing for the Sayonara Party and the home stay families had gathered around the long tables. Principal Fukuda handed out the completion certificates, Binita received her stuffed Japanese cat award for winning yesterday’s "I Know Japan!" Contest and then everyone dug into lunch. The party ended with Jordan’s toothpick disappearing magic tricks, followed by all the students giving thank you speeches.

Being the last day the whole group was together, it was warm and touching, all too short, but like Nick said, ending on a high note is important. The students completed program questionnaires and their anonymous responses were glowing about the positive experiences they had during their stay which was comforting for our staff to hear.

Now everyone has gone back to their home stays for one last, enjoyable night. We’ll see everyone tomorrow at the airport at different times for a final good-bye, except for Kalani who’s going to visit relatives in Kyoto.

Final picture from our Soubetsu kai (Farewell Party or "sayonara party")



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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