Over the September school holidays, a group of ten students and two teachers from James Hargest College travelled to Japan to experience Japanese culture and language. It was the first visit by James Hargest to our sister city Kumagaya since the devastating earthquakes in both Christchurch and Japan. The students, led by Ms Thomson and Mr Harding, were passionate, enthusiastic and lots of fun. Mr Wood also joined us for the first few days of our trip.
During the first week of the trip, we stayed with a host family in Kumagaya and attended Kumagaya Nishi High School with our buddies. Throughout the week we had the opportunity to attend normal lessons as well as some special lessons, where we were able to experience the traditional culture of Japan. Highlights included a traditional tea ceremony, a calligraphy lesson and making Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake). One of the most exciting days was when the students and their buddies travelled to Tokyo Disneyland and spent the day there visiting the different attractions.
We all quickly developed a strong bond with our host families and were extremely sad when we had to say goodbye.
During the second part of our trip we travelled to lots of significant places around Japan, including Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Nara. During this time we visited many temples and shrines such as the Golden Pavilion and the Todaiji temple. The saddest and most significant place we visited was the Hiroshima Peace Park, a memorial park dedicated to the memory of those who died in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima at the end of WW2. Visiting the museum there, and seeing the devastation it caused, is something that none of us will ever forget.
The trip to Japan was a once in a lifetime opportunity that allowed us to, not only practice our language skills, but also further our knowledge of Japan’s history and culture. It was an amazing experience which we will always treasure.
Written by Samantha Tulett and Julie Grenfell