We spent our first week in Tokyo, exploring modern Japan. We visited the man-made island of Odaiba, where we visited the Miraikan, a museum that makes us question how much technology will impact our future, as well as seeing the massive Gundam statue and exploring Akihabara at night. We also spent a day in Harajuku, the trendiest area in Tokyo, and Shibuya, the location of the famous scramble crossing.
Our first taste of a different type of Japan was Mobara, Salisbury’s sister city, where we spent the day at Mobara Elementary School. The incredible welcome we received from the students and staff was complete with a marching band and flowers. Another highlight of our trip was our day at Disneyland. We had the best time of our lives going on the rides and spending our hard earned money at the souvenir shops. Our last day in Tokyo was spent in Asakusa, visiting the oldest temple in the city, Senso-Ji, as well as Tokyo Skytree, where we viewed the metropolis from over 350 metres high.
After spending a week in Tokyo, we slowed down by visiting Kanazawa. We went to the beautiful Kenrokuen Garden, ate gold leaf ice cream, and met two tour guides who showed us some incredible places in their city, such as the ninja and geisha districts. After this, we visited Tokyo’s former capital, Kyoto. Some of us were lucky enough to dress up in kimono when we visited Kiyomizu-dera. We also visited Arashiyama, the famous bamboo forest and Kinkakuji, the gold leaf covered temple. During our time in Kyoto, we also visited Nara which is famous for the deer that inhabit Nara Park.
Another major highlight of the trip was visiting Hiroshima. We visited the Peace Memorial Museum and learnt more about the tragic events that took place. We also got the opportunity to speak with a survivor of the bombing and listening to her share her story was a sad but very moving experience. Getting to place 1,000 cranes on behalf of Endeavour College and ring the peace bell at the Children’s Memorial was an incredible honour.
For many, the major highlight was our homestay with a student from Sundai Kofu High School. Spending time with our host families was a great chance for us to practice some of the Japanese we have been learning and also try lots of new and exciting foods. Getting to see what daily life at home and at school in Japan was like, was a fun and interesting experience.
Travelling together for three weeks gave all of us the opportunity to get to know each other and form new friendships. One of the most positive experiences on the trip was getting to know the people around us, having a chat and a laugh and experiencing a whole new and exciting country with them. From this opportunity, we have not only experienced a whole new country and learnt so many things about the language and culture, but we are also walking away with a new set of friends.
Overall, our three-week fun-filled adventure travelling around the amazing country of Japan was an excellent chance to make new friends, step outside of our comfort zone, learn something new every day, and experience another culture firsthand.
Sophie Green and Kira Howell
Japan Study Tour participants