Eight students, two teachers and two parents of La Salle Academy have recently returned from a wonderful twelve-night trip to Japan.
The group visited many sites of historical and cultural interest, enjoyed the fun of Disneyland in Tokyo, Toei Movie Village in Kyoto and Universal Studios in Osaka, renewed friendships with students of Toke High School who had spent time at La Salle in August and experienced life in a Japanese home as guests of a Homestay program.
Accompanying La Salle Academy were students and a teacher from St Raphael’s Catholic School in Cowra.
The itinerary included three nights in Tokyo. The group were met at the airport prior to visiting the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Sky Tree and Sensoji Shrine.
Using the highly efficient Japanese rail system, they travelled to Chiba Prefecture where they spent time at Toke High School, renewing friendships and sharing stories with the staff and students who had been guests at La Salle recently.
From there to Disneyland for hours of fun. No trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit to the shops, so time was spent at Akiharbara,
Ueno and Shuboya where all practised their bargaining skills. Japan is famous for the Shinkansen, the Bullet Train and the group travelled regularly on the very fast train from Tokyo to Kyoto to Hiroshima to Osaka. Kyoto, home for three nights, has many World Heritage Sites and the group visited the most famous – Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkakuju Temple (Golden Pavillion), Nijo castle and Meijji Shrine.
The day was completed with the attendance at Gion Corner for a cultural demonstration of dance, tea ceremony, flower arranging, court music, kyogen theatre and Bunraka puppet theatre.
A visit to Toei Movie Village where Japanese historical movies featuring samurai and ninja characters are made, enabled the group to learn about this part of Japanese history.
Hiroshima, the target of the first atomic bombing in history, is now a major city in western Honshu, having been rebuilt following the war.
This city was the third city to be visited and did not disappoint.
The major focus of our visit was to reflect on the horrors of war by visiting The Peace Memorial Park, The Atomic Bomb Dome, the Cenotaph for victims of the bombing, the Children’s Peace Monument and the two statues of Sasaki Sadako, a 12 year old girl who died, 10 years after the bombing, of leukemia. She was the inspiration for the story Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes. The mood lifted the following day by a visit to Miyajima Island in Hiroshima Bay, home of Itsukushima-jinga Shrine.
Osaka, where the students stayed with local families, was the final city to visit on the itinerary. After travelling from Hiroshima by bullet train the group attended Universal Studios and despite wet weather, had a wonderful afternoon, availing themselves of as many rides and attractions as possible in the time.
Students were met by host families at 7pm before being taken to homes to live as Japanese for the next two nights.
The experiences varied for the students but all agreed that it was wonderful and although the language barrier created difficulties at time, a smile and hand gestures usually resulted in getting the message across.
A flight from Osaka to Tokyo on Sunday marked the beginning of the return journey. Although tired, the students and staff returned with wonderful memories, new friends, empty pockets, heavier bags and a greater love for Japan, the people, the food and the sites.
The travelling students are to be congratulated on their willingness to participate, try new things and ability to interact so well with others. It was an honour for the teachers to be accompanying them and a special thanks to Nicole and Cameron, the travelling parents.