Day 14: Travel Home

Bags were packed early this morning as we all arrived to meet at Inage.  Students attending a final couple of classes with their home-stays before we said our final goodbye. A last photo on the stairs of the school before boarding the bus to Narita Airport.  And we’re now on our way home!  Waiting by the gate, some students are finishing writing in the journal a few last reflections on the experience.  We will be collecting a select few entries from those journals in the next couple weeks to gift back to Inage school.

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It was a memorable experience, to be sure.  And here are a few ways to remember the trip!  Feel free to share the following video.  And lastly there is a link below to a large collection of photos taken by the teachers throughout the trip.

Mr. Barrett, Ms. Marshall & Ms. Hislop





Day 13: Inage School

Today, Handsworth students spent the day attending classes with Inage students.  But even before our day had really begun, we discovered that our official visit to the mayor’s office had already been published in the local paper!

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At Inage, students participated in and assisted with English classes, cooking class, crafts, kendo and judo as well as a special homeroom class of activities especially for us.

At 4:30, after school, everyone went down to the main hall in the school for a farewell party.  The Inage parents had prepared a wonderful buffet for everyone.  Mr. Barrett had also prepared a brief flashback video to October when the Inage students had visited Handsworth.

Jenelle and Connor gave a farewell speech on behalf of the students.  Everyone was presented with a certificate from the Inage Principal for completing the exchange.

Finally, the Handsworth students got to present their performance of “Canadian, Please”, while looking sharp in the red Canada shirts!  Only one student (who will remain nameless 😉 ) forgot to bring their shirt… but fortunately we had extras!

Tonight we spend our last night with the host families.  Tomorrow its a long journey back to Vancouver!

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Day 11: Tokyo Disneyland

Today Handsworth and Inage students all met up outside of Tokyo Disneyland early in the morning.  They spent a full day in the park together before returning to their host family’s home.

Tomorrow, Handsworth students will be spending Sunday with their host families doing different activities.  Rumor has it that some students may be going Tokyo Disneyland’s sister park, Disney Sea.  We’ll look forward to hearing about all the different things students got up to during the weekend on Monday.  There will be no blog post for Sunday, but look for an update on Monday, our final day in Japan before flying home on Tuesday.

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Day 10: Tokyo

Today was an especially important today for one student in particular.  Ryan G celebrated his birthday with a tour of Tokyo today!

Students arrived at school excited about their previous night out singing karaoke with their home-stay students.  Once everyone arrived in the Inage school auditorium, we surprised Ryan with a small cake, some birthday noise crackers and a fun outfit for the morning.

Then it was off on our tour of Tokyo.  The first stop was the famous Ghibli animation museum.  Students enjoyed a film and got to see how the animation studio works.  Some even bought plush toys of their favorite characters, including Totoro.

Next we visited Harajuku for lunch and some shopping.  This district is famous for the locals who dress peculiarly like they’re from Alice in Wonderland.  And, of course, for its shopping!

Lastly we visited Asakusa Shrine with its huge laterns, temple and market stalls.

Tonight, the plan is for Handsworth students to go bowling with their home-stay students. But they won’t be out too late… tomorrow we are up early for Tokyo Disneyland!

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Day 9: Chiba

Today students returned to Inage High School with stories of their first night at their home-stay.  What the house was like, what they had for dinner and what the commute was to and from school and home were all topics shared.

Students attended homeroom class where they introduced themselves.  We then all promptly hopped on a bus for our tour of Chiba.  The first stop was Qiball, a sort of Japanese version of Science World.  Here students learned all sorts of scientific know-how and wizardry from how a car works, to the science of an earthquake, to even participating in challenges which tested their brain power.

Our second stop was a formal visit to the reception chamber of the Mayor of Chiba.  This was our official visit as representatives of North Vancouver.  Speeches were made, gifts exchanged and students had the opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with the mayor himself.  Afterwards, commemorative photos were taken and a few of the students, Charlie, Grace and Copeland were even interviewed by local TV and newspapers about their experiences in Japan.

Lunch was spent in a brand new mega-mall that just opening in Chiba in December.  It was enormous!  Students were able to find some gifts for home and grab some food before returning to the bus.

Our last activity of the day was back at the school where students participated in Ikebana, or traditional flower arrangement.  The three finest examples of flower arrangement were chosen by the teacher, and they were from Karina, Lucas and Connor.  All the students were able to take their arrangements home to their host families.

Tonight is another exciting night with the host families, and tomorrow is our first chance to explore the huge metropolis that is Tokyo!

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Day 8: Travel to Inage

Today was a long day of travel.  We awoke early to our final traditional Japanese breakfast in the ryokan and then headed off to the train station.  The train was busy today with so many people leaving after the festival.  The rapid JR train took 3 hours to get to Nagoya.  From there we took a bullet train up to Tokyo where we were greeted by 2 teachers from Inage.  Then it was onto a Tokyo subway car and finally a public bus before we, at last, arrived at Inage school.  There, Inage students greeted us excitedly, we had photos taken with them and a brief welcome ceremony ensued.  Copeland and Mika spoke on behalf of the Handsworth students, as did Ms. Hislop who offered words of greeting.  Then, after a quick group photo, everyone picked up their second suitcases which had been waiting for them and headed home with their home-stay families.

Tomorrow we expect there will be many stories of the first night at the home-stay to share…. and we also have to make some official visits, including one to the Mayor of Chiba’s chambers!

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Day 7: Takayama

Nestled in the hills of Gifu’s Hida region, Takayama is a small town that enjoys a huge tourist draw.  It’s biggest events of the year are the spring and autumn festivals in April and October respectively.  Last night we wandered in unaware that the festival was happening that very night!  Unfortunately we got in on a late train and the festival was just winding down, but today the party continued!  The parade floats the festival is so famous for were on display and there were performances all through the streets of drummers, dancers and processions.

Students were up early to visit the morning market and then made their way over through the busy streets towards where the floats were on display.  After lunch we enjoyed the public foot-baths near the train station before walking over to Hida No-Sato, a traditional village with beautiful thatched-roofed houses.  Here we practiced our performance for next week’s visit to Inage, explored the village and enjoyed activities like feats of strength with some boulder lifting!

In the evening on the way back home we stopped to have some of the famous Hida Beef that Takayama is so famous for.  A few last temples and photographs before returning back to the ryokan for another beautiful traditional Japanese meal and a warm sento.  Tomorrow we are back on the train for a long travel day to meet our friends at Inage.

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