Day 18- Country to the City…

Wednesday 5 October 

A final morning adventure in the old area of countryside Hakone. Visiting the Mt Fuji lakes area for a cruise on a pirate ship (Why? Because someone thought it would be cool to have pirate ships ploughing through the lake’s calm waters…). Then taking a walk along a remaining part the old Takaido cedar tree lined road used by travelers in fedal Japan. Students then visited the Hakone Checkpoint Musuem which showcases the purpose of these garrisons used under the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Travelling onto Tokyo and making great time due to our wonderful driver we were able to stop at an extra place- Ueno Park. The students really needed to stretch their legs so we took a nice walk through the park, visited the beautiful and slightly hidden away Toshogu Shrine (a shrine for the Tokugawa Shogunate). A quiet picnic dinner before moving on to visit Tokyo Skytree for an evening  360′ view of this fast paced city saw the students arrive at their hotel for a good nights rest…..tomorrow brings the promise of Disney dreams…..

Our Reflections of Japan…

A few of our students have shared some of their personal endeavors and highlights….

What amazing young people we have….

Aimee Bouter

My highlight of the trip would have to be realizing how similar yet different I am to other people on the JOE team, the Japenese people and just every one else.

Aimee Beverstock

My highlight was when the age and grade differences didn’t get in the way of our new friendships. Like I made friends with people that I have never heard of in my life and wth people that I thought I would never be friends with. I made friends with a person over shaperning pencils and I made friends over taking photos, and helping them take photos.

Caitlin Palleschi πŸ™‚

This trip has been so amazing it is hard to pick one highlight, I have enjoyed every moment of it! It has been great to be immersed in the culture and visit all of the places. But my favourite aspect of the trip would be the friendships and bonds each and every member of the team has created with each other, no matter the grade barriers! πŸ™‚ 

Chelsea Cadigan πŸ˜‰ 

This trip has given me such a bigger appreciation for everything I have at home, my family, my friends, teachers and most importantly the Japanese culture. My highlight has been getting a better understanding of myself and my peers and what I can do encourage the people around me and support them if needed and the fact that I’ve begun to meet knew people it’s a true blessing. It’s a real experience that won’t be forgotten. 

Hannah Smith ❀

 This trip has been amazing but my highlight by far has been the homestay! My family was amazing and I miss them so much, it was great having sisters for a change and my lil bro was really nice. I cried so much the morning we said goodbye, but found out that my home stay bro is coming over next year. I’m super excited to show him the same amount of hospitality and kindness that I received.

Rhys Warner

Japan has been great and I have loved all of it! I especially enjoyed visiting the castles as the architecture was intricate and unique. I have made many new friends especially Hannah smith ( Awwww thanx Rhys- Hannah).

Grace Lyne

Japan has been so incredible but my highlight so far would have to be the homestay! My homestay family was amazing and I love how alike they are to my family; I will truly miss them so much and the best part is knowing that I have another family halfway across the world who loves me. I will never forget them and will always cherish the memories I have made with them.

Isaac Caitens

Japan is an amazing country and the whole trip has been a wonderful experience, but if I had to choose the one thing that really was a highlight, it would have to be the openness and willingness of the Japanese people, especially my host parents. I really enjoyed sitting at the family table talking with my host family and exchanging phrases. It really is wonderful that they were willing to open their home to me (a stranger) for a week.

Daniel Butcher 

I’ve had such am amazing time in Japan so far and there has been no one thing that has been better than all the other awesome moments. I would say the best thing has just been the change of pace from normal life in Australia and the break from our usual lives and culture. It’s been absolutely awesome that as a group we’ve become great friends and had some absolutely hysterical moments! Quite sad that it’s almost over.

Leila Pokarier

I love Japan sooooo much! The culture, people and sites all contribute to this amazing country. My favorite part of this trip has been the home stay, were I found that a family nine hours away could be so similar to mine at home. It was such an amazing and unique experiments were many friends and relationships were made. πŸ™‚

Mackenzie Clark 

I’ve had an awesome time in Japan. My favourite part of the trip has been experiencing the difference in culture (mainly the difference in food) from our  western lifestyle. The home stay was a great experience for all the Joe team, especially the teachers as they didn’t have to be around us for most of the day. (Mac…we always miss our little Genki Gaijins- Mrs S)

Bella Gilligan 

Being in Japan has been such a life changing experience, the amount of self growth and maturity that everyone has undergone has been amazing. I have loved becoming friends with everyone and hanging out with new people. I am going to miss my host family so much, but I will never forget them and I will know that I have a second family half way across the world. I love Japan! And I will never forget this experience.

Day 17- Adventures in Nature

Tuesday 4 October

Spending last night in a ryokan gave the students the chance to wake up this morning to a full Japanese breakfast, rice, miso soup, grilled fish, pickled seaweed and flush, tofu with mushrooms….. 

Setting out early to explore the black crow castle Matsumoto Jo, the students spent their time taking in all the details they could. Finding the hidden floor which was for both storage of important goods and used as a secret “kill floor” against attackers, the maze of steep stairs and the displays of weapons from swords through to early firearms; the students were able to see for themselves how the use of the castle changed through its history.

Lunch (was a vegetarian delight of flat udon noodles and little treats) was at a lovely hidden gorge with hike down to a lovely waterfall. The students were able to walk through a different ecosystem as the gorge presented a drier forest with birch trees and steep rocky cliffs.

Our afternoon was spent chasing the beautiful Fuji San between the mountains and clouds and we were fornate to be given a full view of her! Some lovely photos were taken by our students.

The evening saw the whole team relaxing at an Osen, enjoying the hot mineral water baths and engaging with food challenges as the dinner was a beautiful kaisekiryori meal.

Tonight we held our tradiontional JOE “circle of triumphs”. Each member shares their highlights, personal favourite moments and sense of personal growth. Your children are amazing and you will be so impressed by what they have learned.

One of the most common learning curves has been the ability to really connect with others outside their usual peer/age groups. They are themselves surprised by the friendships they have made! We as their leaders are so very blessed by their willingness to just keep trying. – Mrs S, Miss R , Miss W, Mr C and Mr H.

Highlands A-callingΒ 

Hi All, Miss Roche here again! I wanted to take the opportunity to check-in and let you know how well the students are progressing. It was truly a blessing to witness the genuine affection they both gave to their host families and received back in kind. Many tales of heartfelt letters, gifts, special family meals and memories were exchanged in the bus as we embarked on our figurative trek into the highlands. Each student had experienced the best of Japanese hospitality and now has the gift of a unique and wonderful memory of the trip that belongs to them alone. The big and small acts of kindness by our friends at the sister school never cease to amaze us and I know the students have been enriched by their thoughfulness. 

Our jaunt into the mountains has been accompanied by a moving picture show of breathtaking scenery out the bus windows as we take in the general majesty of what Japan has to offer. The journey so far has been punctuated with spontaneous group karaoke and choreography as ‘excellent’ as it is innovative! The team leaders were thrilled yesterday to see the continued engagement of the students’ with various sites of historical and cultural significance. Despite their tiredness, they continue to ask insightful questions and seek out opportunities to use their Japanese language skills. They are truly an impressive group. I’d like to give a special shout-out to the student who asked me for directions to the toilet in pure Japanese yesterday (even though we were all Aussies there). You know who you are! I hope you’re proud of that moment – where language distinctions faded and you were just plain ‘communicating.’ How exciting! 

As the calendar prompts the students to begin turning their faces towards home, it has been great to see them determined to gain as much from this final leg of the trip as possible. They have been encouraging one another to continue cultivating new friendships and to acknowledge the personal development that has occurred so far. 

Thanks, as ever, for your support and for blessing your children with this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!