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.

 

 

A Passionate Encounter

 

 

 

 

Salt being cultivated from the sea

Salt being cultivated from the sea

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Liam and Jin grinding rice for mochi

Cole and his mochi

Cole and his mochi

Andy with his new friends

Andy with his new friends

Mami and Kerrie

Mami and Kerrie

The teachers didn't make it out safely!

The teachers didn’t make it out safely!

Andy with his new friends

Andy with his new friends

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East meets West

East meets West

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Star-gazing

Star-gazing

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New friends

New friends

Expressions of gratitude for a wonderful day

Expressions of gratitude for a wonderful day

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Team Bushido

Jessica Krenz and Mael Oujaddou

02/03/15

Blog

On a rainy morning of March our dear Ross students and wonderful chaperones went to a traditional salt field. There, we learned to basic process for the creation of salt. We also had the chance to taste pure calcium but some of us decided to abstain from that proposition. Afterwards, the whole group went for lunch to a seafood restaurant on the shore. All the students were able to cook their own food, which consisted of: oysters, calamari, shrimps, octopus and other different kinds of seafood and seaweeds. By this wonderful experience we discovered that oysters could be used as explosive due to the fact that some of the oysters left unattended exploded under the heat and pressure.

Afterwards we went to a school to enjoy a demonstration of Kizuna which is a Japanese traditional style of drumming involving a lot of aerobic movement and coordination. The student who performed for us were the JV team of Nijo High School. Their demonstration was beyond belief, the moves were perfectly coordinated and all the students gave a 101% of themselves. All Ross school students were impressed as the beat went through their bodies.

Later on that day we went to a local community center. There, we learned how to make the traditional and delicious snack called Mochi. We were helped by local students and had the greatest time ! Even thought a language barrier was standing between us we found a way to communicate and were able to enjoy each others company. After making the Mochi, we ate it and afterwards followed the greatest flour fight in the history of the Ross School. All students from both countries decided to start a major battle using only flour as their weapon. Nobody escaped this war–not even the teachers!

On that evening all students from both countries came altogether outside to watch the stars and learn about constellations. We were able to observe Orion’s belt and other amazing stars and planets. We then conclude the evening by saying goodbye to everyone and taking an enraging amount of selfies…

And another sets in the wonderful country of Japan

An Okayama Adventure

Team Bushido

Chris Xu, Jessica Krenz, Andy Long and Mael Oujaddou

27/02/15

Blog

On the third day of our amazing field academy, our team was left to its instinct and Japanese skills to direct and collect, photograph and communicate with it’s surrounding in the city of Okayama. Every group was given a list of objects to buy and multiple sentences to say to complete strangers. Those sentences regarded mostly the permission of taking a picture with the said stranger. As the groups dispersed, we had 2 hours to complete all 15 tasks and return to the hotel.

Finding the objects was simple task. However, asking complete strangers from all ages to take a picture with us was quite an adventure. As westerners our small group equipped with our cameras were running around Okayama asking people if we were able to take a picture with them. The results of that question were priceless especially with elderly people. We also had to imitate a Japanese commercial and take a picture of it, Jessica being a flawless model decided to do this part of the scavenger hunt. Another tricky part of our adventure was to greet people and get a positive greeting back, Japanese being extremely polite would always reply. However, Japanese uses a lot of body language so the people would either bow our wave their hands incapacitating us to get the point.

After 2 long hours of struggle and Japanese language butchering team Bushido was able to complete 14 tasks, which was a great victory for our tired souls. Afterwards every team went for dinner, our team decided to try the deliciousness of Udong noodles and was more than satisfied were their meal.

Another day has set on the great country of Japan, keeping us craving for more!

Itoshima Kizuna Drummers and Drumming practice

Link

These middle school drummers were incredible!!!

We wish Ross community could see these students perform live someday. True form of dedication and diligence—that’s what made their performance possible and that’s one of the important values that we learned so far in Japan.

 

Ross students had a wonderful time learning to drum with these amazing drummers after the performance!!

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.

2015/02/26

Blog for 2015/02/26

Today was the first day of our exploration of wonders in Japan. It was a little bit rainy, but it couldn’t stop everyone’s excitement, oppositely, it made Nippon, this far eastern country more mysterious than it already was! Japan is absolutely a clean country, unlike it is in NY, when it rains here in Japan, it’s not dirty nor muddy, it’s just simply fresh and cool. Coming from the cold NY, this kind of freshness was exactly what we wanted

lobby of the museum

lobby of the museum

selfie inside the museum with my group

selfie inside the museum with my group

Nagoya castle

Nagoya castle

Japanese sword

Japanese sword

outside of the castle

outside of the castle

the show case

the show case

lunch

lunch

outside of the train

outside of the train

the bullet train

the bullet train

Osaka

Osaka

We started the morning with exploring the technology museum in Nagoya after a great Japanese breakfast buffet. The museum was owned by Toyota, it was much bigger than it seemed to be. It was divided into two sections, automobiles and textile. Very interestingly, there were a lot of demonstrations in the museum, and the staff gave us a lot of free samples, who doesn’t love a free sample? Most impressively, my Wasabi Frappuccino group watched a metal smithing demo, the staff forged a piece of accessory of a car from the beginning, raw material, he then heated it up till 1200 celsius. He had to forge the heated metal four times to get to the expected shape, the forging machine reduced the original process from maybe few hours down to 30 seconds. The machine was press machine with a pressure of 120 tons, one elephant is roughly about a ton if you don’t use ton. The sample was a miniature, the staff told us that in real life, the piece was much bigger and the machine could reach up to 600 tons. At the end, we all got a miniatured piece of metal as a souvenir.

The second place we went was the Nagoya castle. Serena Kim did a brief intro for everyone, it was built during the war period of Japan. The whole structure of this building complex is white, it was a building contained both elegance and greatness. The complex was owned by the shogun. I found that the Japanese architecture can really go up to 6 stories while the Chinese buildings are never taller than 2 floors. Unfortunately, the original construction was burnt down in 1945 during the WWII, the one we saw today was a replica, But it has shown us the amazing construction skill of the Japanese people. One thing that was very interesting was that in the museum, everyone had to take their shoes off and put on a reusable pair of slippers, while the other museums in other parts of the world, even if one has to take his or hers shoes off, the museums usually offer disposable shoe covers, which are wasteful and unsustainable.

For lunch, we had to go with our project groups, and we could choose whichever restaurant we wanted to eat. BUT, the biggest problem we had was the language problem. For me though, I could understand the common characters that we share between Japanese and Mandarin, so I could tell my teammates whether the food was pork or chicken for example, and as for the rest of the deciding process, there were wax replica of the real food in the show case windows. Everyone loved the noodles we got, and some of them even improved their chopstick skills.

For the afternoon, we took the bullet train from Nagoya to Osaka. I have longed to take the bullet train, which was one of the first high-speed trains in the world, I also have watched a series of cartoons about the Shinkansen throughout my childhood. The train arrived and left the station on the dot of 5:11. The train ride was very quiet. The Japanese people I have met throughout the trip so far were always very friendly and mindful of one another. They always thought in other people’s shoes first, for example, on the train, those people also wanted other people to have a nice and pleasant train ride, so they kept the quietness within the train car.

One thing about Japan is that you are constantly thinking about food. After breakfast, I started to think about the lunch I was going to have, and then about dinner. For dinner, we had another language problem and our indecisiveness stopped us from getting a dinner in a short time. We went around the street and looked at every restaurant for almost half an hour, than we decided to go to a small restaurant which was cheap and pleasant. We had curry tempura with rice, or udon noodles, or even sashimi rice bowl, isn’t that just dream coming true?

The day ended pleasantly and joyfully with a cup of caramel macchiato. Saiyonara! -Jin, Roman, Lindsey