Day 14: Homeward Bound

Our final morning in Japan was filled with many tears. Handsworth students joined their Inage hosts for two morning English conversation classes before heading to the school auditorium to await the final transfer. A newspaper article had made it into the local paper about our visit to see Chiba’s mayor. As the bus pulled up we took one last photo on the steps of Inage High School. 15 minutes of teary good-byes later we finally got the last Handsworth student on the bus for the airport. It’s been a remarkable two weeks, and indeed a remarkable exchange experience spanning all the way back to October. Today we are on our way home!

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And here’s one last parting gift… a final video!


Day 13: Incredible Inage!

What a day! Today Handsworth students joined their Inage host students in classes. They enjoyed an intercultural class, an English class, kendo, judo, handball and a craft class where they made their own chopsticks. As afternoon turned to evening, we all headed down to the auditorium for a farewell party. As everyone enjoyed the buffet spread prepared by Inage parents, the video made from Inage’s visit to Handsworth last October played on the big screen. Speeches were made. This time Handsworth was represented by Donna and Ruairi. And then was our big dance performance! It was a huge hit. Finally we had a surprise montage video created by one of the Inage students as a farewell present for the Handsworth students. Tears were already flowing, and we still don’t leave until tomorrow. The most heard comment tonight was, “I don’t wanna leave Japan!”

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Day 12: Host Family Day

Today is not a typical blog post day as Handsworth students will spend the day exclusively with their home-stay families.  When we meet at school on Monday the students are sure to have dozens of stories to tell.  We’re looking forward to it!  In the mean time, check out this neat time lapse video of Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo – a place that some Handsworth students got to experience firsthand!

Day 11: Disney Day!

Today, Handsworth and Inage students all got together to enjoy Tokyo Disneyland!  We arrived at the park early in the morning, and before entering took pause to celebrate another Handsworth birthday – this time for Lucia!  We all sang happy birthday, exploded noise makers and had Lucia blow out a candle to make a wish in her birthday tiara. Then the students had the rest of the day to enjoy the park!  Disneyland is always more fun in a set of Mickey (or Minnie) ears, right?!

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Day 10: Tokyo Tour

Today our Inage friends hosted us on a tour of Tokyo.  We began with a trip out to the Edo Museum where we learned about the history of the Tokyo area, particularly during the Edo period.  With our refreshed historical understanding of the region we then set out for one of Tokyo’s oldest temples at Asakusa.  The surrounding area provided another great opportunity for students to pick up souvenirs, try local foods and take some great photos. Lastly, we headed out to visit the Ghibli museum, a Japanese animation Mecca.  Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside, but everyone had a great time viewing the feature film, discovering the design process of Ghibli’s animation studio and exploring the gift shop.  Back at the school, Handsworth students reunited with their Inage host families and headed home to prepare for the evenings activities.  Tonight, word on the street is that everyone will be going to a karaoke bar!  And tomorrow morning we are up early to meet at Tokyo Disneyland!

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Day 9: Checking Out Chiba

This morning the students were abuzz with stories about their first night of home-stay, sharing tales of exotic foods, long commutes and unique & interesting features of the homes they were staying in.  Today was our tour day organized by our friends at Inage, and it centered around discovering our sister city, Chiba.  We began the day at Chiba’s version of Science World, called Qi-Ball before heading over to our formal reception with Chiba City’s Mayor Kumagai.  This was our most important formal function as ambassadors for North Vancouver.  Speeches were made, gifts exchanged, a commemorative photograph taken, and the students had the opportunity to ask questions of the mayor.  The afternoon was spent at the enormous Makuhari shopping complex, where students engaged in some retail therapy and even played basketball on the indoor courts.  Back at Inage Sr High School we wrapped up our day by learning about the art of traditional Japanese flower arrangement called Ikebana.  Students were allowed to bring home their creations as gifts to their host families.  The top 3 arrangements, as chosen by the Ikebana teacher, were made by Nikki, Glenn and Jake.  Before departing back home for the host families houses, Handsworth students had one last opportunity to perfect their dance performance for Monday’s farewell party.  Tonight, rumor has it that many of the students will be getting together to go bowling?!  We’re looking forward to hearing the stories again tomorrow!

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Day 8: Bullet Train to Tokyo

Our day long journey today took us from the sleepy hill town of Takayama, back to the booming city of Nagoya on the coast, and then north-east to Tokyo and Chiba where we would meet our friends in Inage.  After a warm greeting from our hosts we had a brief welcome ceremony that included speeches from students.  We took a group photo for posterity and then it was off in pairs to the homestay-families’ homes.  Tonight begins the second and most interesting leg of our journey – billeting in a Japanese home.  Tomorrow, students will no doubt have stories to tell!    …Oh, and it looks as though we may have finally found the sun!

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