Maddie Roe's Adventure in Japan
Iwata Higashi High SchoolIwata Higashi High School is a senior school consisting of a seven story building with multiple playing fields and various surrounding buildings. Inside of the main building only slippers are to be worn and only one elevator is provided giving my study group and I a lot of 'fun' clambering our way up seven flights of stairs through out the day. The Japanese students that hosted our stay were very skilled in the art of trekking up and down stairs without the slippers falling off your feet and frequently forgot that we could not shuffle around as fast as them leaving many off us about two floors behind them, panting and rubbing our sore legs.
When I first arrived at the school, I was quite nervous considering my Japanese speaking skills are almost non-existent, however, the hospitality of all the students in Iwata made my study group and I feel at home almost instantly. Apart from normal classes, my study group participated in a special tea ceremony, calligraphy class and kendo club. The green tea at the tea ceremony adopted a 'different' taste, to say the least whereas the kendo club was quite scary as it involved lots of shouting and hitting things with sticks. When we weren't at the school we were spending time with our host families. The weekend that I spent with my host family included bowling, shopping and a quick trip to Nagoya Aquarium, which is home to a small pod of Orcas. After a very busy week at Iwata Higashi, it was time to say good-bye to our host families and the school we had all come to love, and begin our travel to Hiroshima.
(See: Pictures 1 - 2)
HiroshimaWhilst our stay in Hiroshima was only short, it was certainly a lasting experience, visiting the Peace Park and Museum and Miyajima Island. The Peace Park and Museum is home to one of the last buildings still standing in Japan after the bombings in 1945 and a museum which is dedicated to remembering those who were lost and informing younger generations on the tragedy that took place. The stories of those who survived were confronting and devastating to read, many talking about loved ones who had been lost and the misinformation given by the government of the time. It also contained small birds-eye models of Hiroshima before and after the bomb. Miyajima Island is not only home to many ancient shrines and temples but also a large amount of seemingly domesticated deer which have free range of the island and are very friendly with visitors and residents. At Miyajima Island my study group and I were lucky enough to see the Itsukushina shrine and many other landmarks. A couple of my friends and I even managed to see a 'tanuki' or raccoon-dog.
(See: Pictures 3 - 6)
KyotoAfter our stay in Hiroshima, my study group made it's way to Kyoto the view more shrines and temples. One of the many temples we visited was Kinkakuji, the Golden Temple. It was extremely large and, as the name states, very golden in colour. We were also privileged enough to visit Ryouanji, which is a zen garden. The day we visited was rainy but still extremely fun and it was a beautiful place to see.
(See: Pictures 7 - 8)
OsakaWhilst a majority of our stay in Osaka consisted of shopping (much to the girls in our group's pleasure) we did get to spend one day at Universal Studios. Universal Studios was very exciting and definitely lived up to many standards. There was roller coasters and many other rides, all of which were themed, creating a very comfortable and enjoyable aura. We also managed the make a quick trip to the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, which had a small life-size village encased within it. The replica even had weather changes in correspondence with the weather outside.
(See: Picture 9)
OverallOverall my experience in Japan was one that I will never forget, creating many fond memories, whether they be relaxing in the hotel or visiting famous landmarks. If anyone was to ask myself whether the trip was worth any amount of money or work, I would hesitate in answering that it is certainly a once in a life-time opportunity that should never be turned down.