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Japan - Futaba

Day 1(16 June 2019) 
Cultural Tour to Asakusa Temple and Edo-Tokyo Museum

After a 7 hour flight from Singapore to Tokyo, we arrived in Japan excited and ready for our adventures today. After checking in to the hotel, the School Principal, Mrs Rachel Lee, Teachers, Mr Colin Toh and Ms Tay Su Yin and the twelve of us began our cultural immersion trip by visiting the Asakusa district which is renowned because of the Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa Kannon Temple) and the bustling streets that are lined with shops filled with Japanese traditional snacks and souvenirs. We also visited the Edo-Tokyo Museum and learnt about the historical developments of Tokyo from the Edo period up to the 2000s. We had an early night as we needed to prepare ourselves for our school visit to Denenchofu Futaba High School the next day.

“Some thoughts today, we learnt the importance of
Perseverance. We walked 15 000 steps.
Responsibility. We constantly looked out for one another to ensure each others’ safety,
Punctuality. We must respect others and not waste their time.” (Danielle Lim and Ashley Tay on the events of today)
“History is different around the world. One’s perspective of a certain historical event is different from the other.”  (Veronica Ng on the exhibits at the Edo-Tokyo Museum)

Observations and Reflections:

Efficient and punctual trains and commuters give way to alighting passengers. There are many recycling bins in Japan.Budgeting and prioritising what was important, for example, food and souvenirs.It is important to plan and research so that I can be more prepared and efficient. Good time management; punctuality is required and it is advisable to be ahead of schedule. 

It is interesting that everyone in this group is able to interact well.  Japan sticks to a strict system. Japanese people treat others kindly and are welcoming, even to foreigners. It is best to stick closely to someone or a teacher, especially when it comes to boarding of trains. ~ Venecia Wong

On trains, Japanese people do not talk loudly and respect others around. Perseverance. We walked 15 000 steps.Responsibility. We constantly looked out for one another to ensure each others’ safety. Punctuality. We must respect others and not waste their time. 
~ Danielle Lim and Ashley Tay
On trains, Japanese people do not use their phones and remain quiet. The Japanese speak very softly. Travelling alone is not easy. I learn to manage my money and fill up the travel declaration forms on my own. History is different around the world. One’s perspective of a certain historical event is different from the other.The streets in Japan are very clean as the Japanese have very high standards of hygiene.  ~Veronica Ng

Day 2(17 June 2019) 
School Immersion: Denenchofu Futaba High School

We visited Denenchofu Futaba High school today. What caught our attention was the amount of greenery in the campus. School facilities are kept in good condition. Students generally care for the school environment and take pride in keeping the school compound clean. The teacher-student relationship is good. Lessons were fun and engaging and everyone was attentive. Some Japanese girls even took the initiative to translate the worksheet (in Japanese) to English. They were patient to explain to some of us the Japanese history in one of the lessons.

CCAs were organised and well-executed by student leaders. The training schedule was planned by them. Members were disciplined and respectful.

It resembled exactly like the anime from all the things that were observed today - from the students’ behaviour and how they participated in the lessons to the time where the students were having their lunch.

The Japanese students are kind and warm-hearted in general. They care for their friends and are helpful.

Learn to be more inclusive. Be respectful to others and not to judge. - Jacqueline Kow, Veronica Ng

I will make it a habit to start cleaning up on my own. I will also start small by doing some household chores -  Venecia Wong

Step out from your comfort zone! It is not that bad.-Angeline Ie

Day 3 18 June 2019 Tuesday
Cultural Tour to Harajuku, Meiji-Jingu shrine and Chinatown at Yokohama

We started the day early by heading to Harajuku station - Meiji-jinku shrine. The place gave a sense of peace right from the start. Before the walk towards the shrine, Ms Tay told us to be quiet so that we could use our senses to feel the tranquility around us. We could hear the sound of the gravel we walked on and the sound of the trees being blown by the wind. It felt very zen. Next, we went to Harajuku street which was a street across the shrine. The area was crowded. We observed that the people along the streets dressed differently, so called the Harajuku fashion. The street was lively. Interesting food was sold along the streets and some of us got rainbow candy floss, “lightbulb” drinks and ice-creams with animal designs. Some of the stall owners were quite innovative and resourceful in the use of the limited space. The experience was eye-opening and we wished we had more time to explore the street. 

We left Tokyo and reached Yokohama in the afternoon. The local train we took to the hotel was noticeably slower than the ones we took in Tokyo. There were fewer people in Yokohama. We took a walk to Chinatown and managed to stroll along the port area. It was a perfect place to take awesome pictures. 

A very enjoyable day. 

“To be mindful of my actions as it will affect others.” - Ng Rae Wern

“In order to make the most accurate depiction of things, one must know the story fully.” - Nandini Ela

“We should rely less on our parents for directions. We have to do things on our own.” 

Day 4 19 June 2019 Wednesday 
School Immersion: Yokohama Futaba High School

We started our day at Yokohama Futaba High school by first introducing ourselves to the teachers at their staff room and to the students at the parade square. Some of us did have different experiences throughout the day. Some enjoyed the lessons and the company, especially those who took part in Music and Volleyball. In the fifth period, we did a presentation to the 9th graders on Singapore culture and CHIJ Secondary. 

We visited Mother Mathilde’s grave in the afternoon. Mr Chiba, the head of Yokohama Futaba, shared with us stories of Mother Mathilde and some of the nuns, who had followed her to Japan. We have a stronger appreciation for their work and dedication. We were brought to Yamate Museum, near the school, where it housed a lot of donated vintage and interesting items. Parts of the CHIJ history was also found there. 

We took a train to Shizuoka in the late afternoon.

It was a tiring but fulfilling day. 

“A class who is motivated together, will succeed together.” - Nandini Ela 

“You always need someone to help and guide you in whatever you do as it gets things done more efficiently.” - Ashley Tay

Days 5 and 6, 20 and 21 June 2019 Thursday and Friday
School Immersion: Shizuoka Futaba High School
and visit to TOYOTA Automobile Museum

Today was the first day at Shizuoka Futaba school. The journey was about 30 minutes from the hotel to the school. We met our buddies and went for their lessons straight away. Every morning, students would gather in their classes and have a moment of silence for reflection and to start the day. Our interaction with our buddies in the beginning was awkward but they warmed up to us and started talking about our hobbies and other things. Even though we did not understand classes that were conducted in Japanese, our buddies tried to communicate with us using signs, numbers and pictures. They also used their e-dictionaries to translate Japanese to English for us. These efforts helped make communication much easier.

In one of the lessons, the history teacher sang and acted to draw the students’ attention. Students in that class was observed to be more attentive and participate more actively. We got to experience different lessons like Living Science and Home Economics. We found out that sewing was taught at a young age in Japan.

Students prepared their own bentos for lunch and they took great effort to decorate these lunch boxes. We got to try their specially-prepared bentos. They were delicious. Our buddies always finished their food - a reminder for us not to waste food.

Every Thursday, students were required to attend club activities that were 45 minutes long. Some of the clubs were Mountaineering, Tennis, Dance, Harp, Chorus etc. These clubs were usually self-run by student leaders and there were hardly any absentees. Chorus was the most interesting as students sang and danced along with the songs.

Shizuoka students are really very self-driven and discipline. They were seen to carry heavy bags everyday. They brought their homework and textbooks back home for revision. Students were seen walking or cycling to school instead of being driven by parents. They were very welcoming and friendly. They were generous in almost every way and this had made our stay here at Shizuoka enjoyable and memorable. They would be missed.

Day 7: Closure of the Japan twinning trip

“Throughout the whole trip, the experiences and things I have learnt in Japan was really eye-opening. It might still be a homogeneous society but there are still people with their own unique personalities and ambitions and do not conform to the norms. Teenagers in Singapore and Japan are not really that different in terms of interests and likings.” -Venecia Wong

“ I used to think that Japan is very traditional in terms of the lifestyle and now I think there is a good mix of modern and traditional lifestyles and habits.” - Go Maomi

“ I used to think that Japan is clean and the people generally are friendly. I also thought that every class will have a “mean girls” club. Now I think that Japan is really very clean. Most people are hospitable and the students are kind and loving.” - Julia Chung

“Be yourself and try your best, even if you do not know how to do something. By trying, you can achieve great things.” - Jacqueline Kow