Catching up in Hiroshima

At the time of this posting, Ross School Field Academy Japan is having more fun than most people should be allowed to have. The team has gallivanted southerly from one town to the next in search of all the wonderful ways Japan plays a part in the global effort of environmental sustainability.

Some postings back, we were in Nagoya, Osaka, Okayama, and Kurashiki. We stayed in local accommodations, learning about the efficiency of space. We spent a day wearing traditional Kimonos, not only exploring the value of social appearance and the importance of one’s place and position in society, but also honoring the customs and traditions of our host country.

We ventured farther south to Fukuoka and made new friends who graciously invited us to their Taiko drum practice. Students in the class practice for three hours every day after school and six hours a day on the weekends.IMG_0463

The practice performance was incredible; our students were amazed by the precision with which the drummers played as well as the obvious dedication to their craft.IMG_0519 IMG_0524 IMG_0500 IMG_0481

Later that day members of a local community center extended and invitation to the Ross team to join them in mochi-making.

Mochi is a delicious Japanese sweet rice cake. The process involved in making mocha includes cooking special mocha rice, using heat, water, and a hammer to transform the rice into a sort of dough.IMG_0557 IMG_0577 IMG_0578 IMG_0596 IMG_0597 Finally, the mochi dough is divided into bite-sized pieces and rolled into mocha flour. The activity accompanies the general gaiety of public holidays and festivals, and as the students took turns pounding the rice, they played with the local children around the area.IMG_0571

In the evening, the students took part in some star-gazing as volunteers from the school set up three large telescopes to view several constellations, the planets of Mars, Venus, Jupiter, as well as the Moon. The students were left delightfully exhausted and overjoyed and grateful for the experience provided to them from the local middle school.

There was a tour of the active volcano, Sakura-Jima, near Kagoshima, the southernmost tip of Japan proper and, leading into today, the group has travelled to Hiroshima to begin its tour of The Atomic Bomb Peace Park.

It is a place of reverence and one to which the highest respect should be shown. The park is a place where the energy is high and the overall sound is low. People come from across the world to understand not only what happened here, but more importantly what significance this beautiful place holds for the future of our planet.

Ross School is here to learn, experience, and grow.

 

 

From Fukuoka to Sakurajima

     Miguel, Israa, Cole, and Emily

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Waking up in our hotel, we revisited the oyster beds, where our lunch came from the day prior. 8 meters deep in the water, were submerged ropes with scallop shells tied to them. On these baby oysters were planted to develop to full size over the corse of the next few months.

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The oyster beds consist of long logs that run parallel to one another where the ropes are tied(it was fun to run around on top of them).IMG_0491

After leaving the docks, we drove to an elementary school where we met kids from grades 3 to 6. Divided into pairs we went into different classes and were able to enjoy their company as much as they probably did. We saw their work on multiple subjects, some had math and music while others did origami and played football (soccer) outside. All of the children were impressed with our height as well as our different ways of opening milk cartons. All of them were incredibly excited to see us and peered into the hallways as we entered the building. Most of the children are conscious of the environment that they live in as they eat all of their food without wasting anything. The part of the experience that was most amazing was how a group of students take shifts in preparing as well as serving the food. When it is time for lunch they all put on white aprons and hats to serve the food to one another. As we left the school all of the children crowded around the bus waving goodbye.

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ADORABLE SMILES

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We all then took the train back to the Japan Railroad, taking the bullet train to Kagoshima. There me met Mami sensei’s mom and took a beautiful ferry ride to the volcano island of Sakurajima. Here we had a delicious meal, full of vegetables, fish, soup, and amazing deserts given by Mami’s mom.

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And as many of us rush off to the hot springs at carefully timed points with friends, our groups continue to prepare ourselves for the coming days.

Scavenger Hunt Group Cherry Blossom

Miguel, Israa, Cole, and Emily

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After getting to know some of Okayama’s tourist destinations, we were told to find the way back to the hotel while completing a series of tasks and challenges. Some of these tasks included asking random people their age and then taking a photo with them. We also had to translate characters in order to find certain objects in a convenience store. However the most challenging part of the scavenger hunt was to communicate with younger children so that they could understand our accent.

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Some of the people that we encountered were very curious as to what we were doing. One even came and found us later on and wanted to learn an English phrase after she had thought us one in Japanese. However, while walking in Kimonos around Kurashiki one of the people we took a photo with requested that we delete it. It took us a while to understand what she was asking, but eventually we figured it out and deleted the picture as she requested. Another person we encountered was embarrassed and refused to reveal her age. We understood and thanked her anyway. For the most part everyone we talked to was excited. As a group we all enjoyed the scavenger hunt more than we had anticipated and managed to find everything before any one else (we are still expecting our prize)

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Day 1 at Nagoya Castle

A short collection of shots from the Ross Japan’s day in Nagoya.

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Mael and India walking around Nagoya Castle

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Osaka at night.

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Mami checking in with the gang while on the Bullet Train.

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Nagoya Castle

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Nagoya Castle

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Nagoya Castle

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Nagoya Castle

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Jin and Emily approaching the castle entrace

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Entrance to the Toyota Industrial Museum in Nagoya

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Looking down at the first floor of the Toyota Industry Museum

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The progeny of Seikichi Toyoda’s first automatic loom.

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Mr. Stribling and Caio at Nagoya Castle.

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The day before her 15th Birthday, India Attias in Japan trying something different.

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Waiting to cross the street midday in Nagoya.

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Nagoya Castle

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Osaka

Osaka at night.

Japan Field Academy Kicks Off Early

February 26 – Travel Day

On Tuesday morning the highly-anticipated 2015 Japan Field Academy kicked off with a collective vigor and venturesome spirit not to be outdone. The group left from the Ross Upper School campus at roughly 4:00 a.m.. Though fatigued after nearly 20 hours of flying, the students hit the Nagoya ground almost running – their eyes reawakened and their pocket cameras fully charged, they were a group excited to simply to finally be in Japan.

 

Yet, there has been a lot of preparation to be thankful for on this front. Each student was provided a travelling backpack with instructions to pack lightly. Not only would they be responsible for shouldering the entirety of their bag’s weight during each of the 16 days in Japan, but the bags would no doubt accumulate, either with snacks, gifts, or any sort of Oriental tchotchkes they never knew they needed.

And of course, there’s the language. We can’t be in Japan and not learn any Japanese. Mami Takeda, the lead chaperone, has started the spry group off with some essential survival Japanese phrases. We began with phrases like ‘hello,’ ‘good morning,’ and ‘good-bye’ (こんにちは – konnichi wa、おはようございます – ohayō gozaimasu、and さようなら – sayounara, respectively). Along the way we have included ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’ (すみません – sumimasen、ありがとうございます – arigatou gozaimasu). And the language instruction continues to grow as the students ask more questions that arise with new experiences and situations.

When we first checked into the hotel the first night in Nagoya (just a couple of blocks from the train station), we were all looking forward to a good night sleep. Some did just that, wanting to fully recharge for the next day. Some were still up and about and enjoyed a quick late-night run to the nearest convenience store – a hallmark of contemporary Japanese snacks and culinary curios.

And after returning to their rooms, the long travel time caught up with them and they were out – looking forward to the next day and the beginning of their Japanese trek adventure.