Friday - day before we head home.....
Today was quite different from the rest. Skit and song practice took up most of the day (which was a relief as they turned out really well in the end). Japanese class involved writing to host families to thank them for their hospitality.
A lot of 'lasts' today - last homeroom (giving and receiving gifts) (tears from girls); last lesson; last lunch break (complete with Connor ordering 8 items off the menu - we get 2 tickets but he managed to charm spares off the girls); last train ride to school.
The Graduation Ceremony was from 4-6: each student was presented with their certificate of completion and speeches of thanks were read. Next were the skits.....we were all a little worried about these - but they did really well. Snow White was a dark (but funny) piece where the queen gets the prince); Harry Potter saw Ron being turned into Picachou (sorry Santino - I have probably upset you by spelling his name wrong). A rendition of 'Arigatoo' - a popular Japanese song was the final part of the evening - then it was photo time.......bit sick of camera flashes now.
The kids are all with their host familes and hopefully packed and ready to head home tomorrow. See you at the airport on Sunday!
After Japanese class we climbed in the bus and headed to the Folkhouse Museum - a collection of 20 buildings from various times and areas across Japan. Was interesting to see how people lived and how they adapted to the conditions in which they lived. Went to the Taro Museum of Modern Art for a while after this. All seemed to enjoy the day - a nice change from the crazy amusement park the previous day.
Today (Tuesday) we boarded rush hour trains and headed into Tokyo city for a trip up Tokyo Tower to admire the view - not bad (couldn't see Mount Fuji as it was too misty).
A walk and ferry ride followed and then a few hours at Odaiba - a seaside area with malls and an amusement park - proved very popular.
Back to Japanese classes tomorrow.
Firstly let me say a huge thank you for checking out this site - you have taken us to the number 1 spot this month on Planet Ranger!
Well it is a while since I updated the blog (I figured that the photos were more important).
What a busy week we have had - Tuesdaay-Thursday in Nara and Kyoto was the highlight of the trip so far for me at least. The schedule was jam-packed full of temples and shrines - the photos only show some of the ones that we went to. If you ask the boys which was their favourite they probably won't be able to tell you as there was something different and special about each of the ones we visited. The Golden Pavilion proved very popular, as did the rock garden (several of them didn't want to leave that one and were happy just sitting there chilling out and absorbing the atmosphere). The last temple was another popular one as it was set on the side of the hill overlooking Kyoto. The time spent painting with stencils onto silk hankerchiefs was enjoyed by all (probably another present coming your way parents). Free time in the evenings was spent exploring the city (100 yen shops where they bought silly hats so that locals would come up and start chatting (just in case they didn't stand out enough already) and taking photos in the photo booths that make your eyes huge). I was so impressed with the behaviour of the boys - prefect behaviour in the hotel and no issues with being late back from free-time and exploring temples, etc - I think the only thing they got told off was for having their socks down (makes my life easier!).
Back in Yokohama and back to class on Friday morning. The lesson for the day was a trip to the local train station and surrounding shops where they had to ask shopkeepers set questions in Japanese (like what is the most popular item? how much does **** cost? what time do you close? etc). Once they had all the correct answers they were rewarded with a donut (the Japanese teachers know how to motivate 14 and 15 year olds).
From there we jumped on a train and headed into Yokohama for a few hours at the Raumen (noodle) museum. This is setup like downtown Tokyo in 1958 (the year instant noodles were invented - random fact for the day). Had food there before they headed home for the evening.
Saturday - this Japanese class may have been one of the favourites......Japanese movie day: Water Boys (about synchronised swimmers) was very funny. Lunch then home for 2 1/2 day weekend (Monday is a public holiday so no school until Tuesday).
Should have some photos to put up on Tuesday night as we are spending that day in Tokyo.
Will be thinking of you all as you either head back to work after the weekend or back to school after the holidays. I am off to spend my Monday in Nikko as Ben is taking me to see temples, shrines and monkeys. Not sure what the boys will do on their day off - will find that out on Tueday in what is sure to be another interesting train ride into Tokyo at rush hour.......
Cultural Festival Day
Japanese class in the morning - last one for a few days as we head off to Kyoto in the morning (3 days/2 nights - busy schedule but looking forward to it).
After lunch, we came back and our classroom had been transformed. 15 lovely women and one man had set up different stations for the students to move around: Ikebana (flower arranging); calligraphy; music; origami and a tea ceremony. It ended with a yukata (casual kimono) fitting. Each boy had his own strengths - some were musical - others not; some were artistic - others not; some had an eye for flowers - others not. They all have big feet and didn't manage to fit the shoes when in yukata.
Fun afternoon was had by all. They have now all gone home to pack for our trip to Kyoto in the morning.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and look at the photos - we have made the Top 5 sites for Planet Ranger this month
Saturday was a lot of fun - but a very long day.
Class in the morning - this involved going to Ben's English class and interviewing Toin students - time to put what we were learning into action! Boys all coped well - I did ok....
After lunch, we were treated to a demonstration of Japanese drumming by the girls' team - they were brilliant. So graceful, yet very powerful. The timing was impeccable - 10-20 girls all drumming together. We all got up and had a go - most picking it up quickly (the girls were very good teachers) - we sounded great (timing was perfect) - didn't have the same grace in our movements though. After that - there was time to get ready for the evening. The host families arrived at 5pm. After a few speeches, we all shared a meal - Toin laid on a feast of lots of lovely food. After dinner, the concert started with some individul items from Aidan and John. Marsden sang a Maori waiata and the National anthem. Scots ended the concert with Tutiri mai nga iwi followed by the haka (Connor as leader was great). This proved to be the hit of the night - well worth the practice. They surprised themselves and looked and sounded very impressive. The evening ended with hundreds of photos being taken - the curse of digital cameras is that you can take lots and not worrry about the cost of film......we finally got them out of the venue and home with their host families - not sure what they all got up to on Sunday yet (will find out in the morning) - I for one enjoyed my day off - it was either a quiet day at the dorm or Tokyo - tough choice!
Tomorrow we have Japanese class follwed by a cultural afternoon - Tea Ceremony and not sure what else yet
Thursday morning meant an early start for most - had to meet at one of three trainstations and head into Tokyo. This porved to be an interesting experience. Liz (one of the Toin staff) said to us 'we are all getting on the train no matter what'..... so when the doors opened we all piled on reasonably easy - but there didn't seem like a lot of room for anyone else. How wrong we were.......at each new station more people were crammed in. Never in my 29 years have I been that close to that many other people! Arms twisted at odd angles to hold the hand rails (not that it mattered as there were so many people you barely moved as the train slowed down and sped up). Grunts, giggles and the odd swear word were uttered as you realised where your hand was or spent a few train stations worth of travel in someone's arm pit (luckily for me Aidan doesn't smell). 45 mins of that and then we boarded a much emptier train for Disneyland. All that adventure and it wasn't even 9am yet. They had fromn 9:30am - 7:30pm at Disneyland so managed to go on all the rides (the best ones twice). I was ready to leave by about 5pm...... Lefy Disneyland and headed to Asakusa (in Tokyo) to our hotel. Kids tired (yes!) so went to sleep fairly early.
Today we packed up and headed straight to Ueno. First stop, the National Museum. Admired all the artefacts - good range if pieces (armour, kimono, paintings, sketches, ceramics, etc). Headed to the Ueno zoo for a few hours - nice place to be on a sunny day (our first without rain since arriving!). Hopped on a train and headed to a market street - big range of things but not too much money spent by the boys here. Hopped on another train to Asakusa where we looked at a beautiful temple and souvenir shops. Last stop was the hotel to pick up gear then board trains home (packed but nothing like our trip in!).
My guess is that they will all be close to bed (9:30pm) as there were lots of tired kids - and they have a long day tomorrow (class, drum demonstration and concert/dinner).
Bye for now
Today was the usual lesson in the morning (including time to work on their skits - seem to be coming along well) followed by a few hours of pottery which I sadly have to admit I was the worst at. We were supposed to make a tea cup each (straight sides) which the boys managed to do with some help. Mine on the other hand looks more like a vase (I will just say that I like to drink really big cups of tea if anyone asks why mine is so big). They painted them with various desgins (words and pictures) and left them to be out in a kiln. Sam and Liz will bring them to NZ when they bring a group out from Toin in March.
After that, they all headed back to Toin for a bit of archery....... after some tutoring by the Toin girls' team they had a few turns and most managed to hit the target (if not the one they were aiming for, then the next one over).
The day ended with instructions for the next few days: pack an overnight bag as we are spending tomorrow at Tokyo Disneyland then staying at a hotel in Tokyo. Friday will be spent in Asakusa.
Will update you on Saturday.
Today started off with a 3 hour Japanese lesson - boys worked well while the girls and I learned to describe foods (by eating them of course....bitter, sweet, etc). Had to try some crazy wasabi flavoured chips (not so nice). Towards the end of the lesson - they were broken into 2 major groups (mixed) to prepare their skit for the final day (has to be a funny, 10 min skit - all in Japanese, all off-by-heart). Harry Potter for one group, Snow White gone bad for the other. Should be entertaining.
After lunch they got changed into PE gear and judo uniform for an afternoon of judo and kendo..... This was an afternoon full of laughs (there are lots of photos and a couple of videos of this which I will give the boys on our return).
Judo - The Gentle Way
Started off with learning to fall; follwoed by throwing someone over your back; ending with pinning someone to the floor.
Kendo - The Way of the Sword
Once they were kitted out in a helmet, breast plate and skirt-like piece they were issued a bamboo stick....once they were shown the places to stike (head, wrist and side) they were unleashed on each other. Other than a few misplaced strikes (Connor.....) it seemed to be a very popular activity.
A much quieter afternoon tomorrow will see us head off to pottery after Japanese class.
Today saw the first of the Japanese lessons. Kids were split into 4 groups (2 Scots and 2 Marsden). Scots are a lot more advanced than the Marsden girls (as they do not study Japanese at school) so I went with them instead of sitting clueless while the boys were taught. 3 hours of lessons (9-12) which ended with a crazy game of Japanese 'fruit salad' using words they had been taught during the lesson. Was a bit mad and several butts hit the floor when seats were fought over. Aidan and Aaron both had to sing when they ended up in the middle 3 times. After lunch the girls headed off to pottery and the boys and I went to a glass-blowing lesson. We were shown around the workshop then jumped right in and made a paper weight and vase each (it sounds like some of the mums might be getting these so I hope they turn out well). Douglas made a particularly large vase as he got a little carried away and blew too hard. Back to school in time to meet billets and head home for the evening.
Sugoi (great) day was had by all.
Location: Yokohama, Japan
It was a VERY long day yesterday - airport at 5:15am....check-in, then race to board plane to Auckland (Santino got pulled aside at security as he had left his compass in his pencil case.....surprisingly he was able to keep it - ditched it in Auckland though). Arrived at Auckland and once again raced to board our international flight. 11 hours to Narita Airport, Tokyo. Both Marsden and Scots students were great - most watching 3 or 4 movies. Poor Ty had some bad luck as his luggage did not make the flight.....should be here tomorrow though (fingers crossed). Met at the airport by Sam (old Scots boy now working at Toin) and Liz - 2 hour drive to Toin Gakuen where the boys met their host familes and left with them. Jacqui and I are staying at the girls dorm.....communal showers (so up at 5:30am to avoid that!).
The kids started arriving at Toin from about 7:45am - early start for some! Shared their experiences of their first night (beds and slippers were hot topics). Today was orientation day - outline of the schedule for the next 3 weeks, tour around the MASSIVE school campus - kids already thriving on being treated like rock stars - crowds of students waving and calling out to them). Marsden and Scots students looked a little silly wandering around with shower caps on their outdoor shoes - but have now got their inside shoes so look slightly more normal. Lunch was a great - good to see the boys trying new food - not sure about the girls as they eat in the girls' only section. Students are now all off with their host families for the rest of the weekend - won't see them until Monday for Japanese class then pottery.
Sayonara for now
Location: New Zealand
The countdown is on!
Monday now - we leave on Friday morning! Super early - so be at the airport by 5:15am (at the latest) packed and ready to go.
- Passport (will be waving good-bye to you if you don't)
- Yen (or you will be doing some serious window shopping)
- Clothes (or you will be walking on your own when you start to smell)
Think they are the most important things.
See you there