We are so very close to returning, but first, there’s time for one more class! The Porter’s students participated in an Ethics class with students from Kichijo, discussing a very appropriate topic…happiness! They discussed and shared their ideas about family, friends, passions, and of course food.
Sara organizing her thoughts.
Clare, Gabe and their Kichijo partners collaborating.
We leave Kichijo for the last time in about two hours, with hopes to return one day.
KIchijo held a farewell party this evening for the Porter’s students. It was a lovely way to end our last full day in Tokyo. There were many, many tears, much laughter, and promises to keep in touch. Our students shared a rendition of “Farmington’s Calling,” a song which is normally performed in certain circumstances, but we felt it was appropriate to share with new family. The Kichijo students in turn sang an impromptu version of their school song, which was an unexpected and wonderful gift.
Some of our students are heading out for one more night in Shibuya before packing and preparing for travel tomorrow.
Today is our last full day in Japan and that fact is bringing with it conflicted feelings. There’s sadness that we’ll be leaving, and several of our students have shared lovely messages from their host sisters expressing deep connections. There is also homesickness and a desire to return to the “real world”. The students are looking forward to their last few chances to have fun with their new families, to see the amazing sights of Tokyo, and, of course, to eat amazing foods.
This morning our students had an opportunity to practice shuji, the art of Japanese calligraphy. This ancient art requires many years of study and practice to achieve proficiency; in the hour they had, I think our girls did remarkably well! Like many ancient arts in Japan (such as the Chado they experienced yesterday), the purpose is not just to create something beautiful, but to focus the mind and body. It is simultaneously writing and meditation.
Gabe and Julianne hard at work.
Later today, Team Tokyo will enjoy a farewell party with Kichijo students (and are planning to sing for them to show their gratitude), and then many will have a Friday night on the town.
Our current plan is to leave Tokyo at approximately 7:30 Saturday night local time, to land in NYC at 6:30 Saturday night. It looks very strange because we will be traveling backwards in time. We are all very hopeful that we don’t encounter the same kind of delays as we did at the beginning of the trip…but if that happens, it’s just another chance to practice resilience and flexibility!
After spending only a week in Japan, I can already confidently say that it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. From the beautiful temples in Asakusa to the breathtaking view of Tokyo Skytree, the city continues to amaze me every new step I take. Yesterday, I finally saw the vibrant Harajuku. With every store containing a new, exciting fashion gem, I skipped through the Takeshita strip holding an abundance of shopping bags. Delicious restaurants and cafes were on every corner, serving mouth-watering food of all sorts. As we walked by what seemed like a normal cotton candy stand, my host sister excitedly ran to grab one. She grinned as she walked towards me with a rainbow colored cotton candy stick twice the size of her head! Everything in Harajuku was graphic and larger than life, even the ATM was bedazzled. It was a incredibly special experience and I cannot wait to go back to Japan.
We have returned to Tokyo after a busy, wonderful weekend of fun and camaraderie in Kobe and Kyoto. We explored Kobe College, learned about earthquake relief efforts in Kobe, enjoyed time at Arashiyama in Kyoto, ate ridiculous amounts of food, and had the transcendent experience of seeing the majestic Fujiyama at 250 km/hr.
I feel I can speak for Kate and all the students as I send infinite gratitude to all our new friends: Yasuko Nagase and her husband Brian, Chancellor Mori, Dr. Ken and Ms. Kiyoshi of Kobe College, Yutaka Matsubara, and Deuce, Hiro and Max at Au Chalet Arashiyama. Domo arigatou gozaimasu to all of you!
The students will be spending Sunday with their host families enjoying Tokyo.
Today the Porter’s girls had another Japanese lesson and then participated in a PE class, playing field hockey with the students at Kichijo.
We then travelled across Tokyo to the Joshi Gakuen School, where our students shared a presentation about Porter’s. They then joined the local students in small groups to share pictures and discussion. Quick friendships developed, and we had a wonderful time.
Tomorrow we will gather early in order to take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kobe and Kyoto to meet Yasuko Nagase, a Porter’s Ancient from the class of 1996.
Good morning from Tokyo!
Today our students will be continuing their study of Japanese, participating in a PE class, and working together to develop their presentation for this afternoon’s trip to Joshigaikuen, another girls’ school in Tokyo. There, our students will meet with their Student Council, hear some information about their school, and make a group presentation on a variety of ideas important to Porter’s: Traditions, leadership, residential life, and so forth. They will then have an opportunity to meet informally in small groups to discuss various topics.
They’ve also been having adventures with host families: visits to hot springs, ascending the Tokyo Skytree, karaoke, visiting shrines and temples, and of course shopping.
The Porter’s crew had their first day at the Kichijo school today. They didn’t attend the normal class schedule. Instead, they had a tour of the school, met twice as a group to reflect on their experiences so far, and participated in Japanese lessons (which will continue through their time at Kichijo). In addition, we took a group walk of the area around the school in order to get a feel for the neighborhood…and, of course, buy tasty snacks.
This afternoon, the students are participating in theater, softball and volleyball. Tomorrow–more Japanese lessons, and an afternoon visit to Joshigakuin.
We arrived at Tokyo Station just after noon and the Porter’s crew met up with their host families. Tomorrow morning it’ll be time for school, but for now they’re engaging in food, fun, and hopefully a healthy dose of sleep.