JL Flight #4 cancelled and rescheduled for tomorrow

Japan Airlines flight #4 was cancelled this morning due to maintenance issues. The group is currently getting off the plane to go back through customs and to a hotel provided by Japan Airlines.

I will keep you posted once I know the name of the hotel and more details about their departure time tomorrow.

Kate and Dan report that the girls are energized and looking forward to another night in Tokyo!

 

Sayonara, Kichijo

A beautiful image of Kichijo School just now. Students are in the final cleaning of their homeroom classes, and shortly we’ll walk through the school gates one last time to Nishi-Ogikubo Station. From there, we’re en route to Tokyo Station, Narita Airport, JFK, and Miss Porter’s School. Our adventure comes to close in Japan, but in so many ways it has just begun.

Kichiko School

We’ve had the experience of a lifetime; these words from our students:

Welcoming…memorable…SO THOUGHTFUL…bittersweet…kind…hospitable…warm…considerate…inclusive…remarkable…living…unforgettable…generous…learning experience.

Mata mite ne. 

Until we meet again.

 

 

 

Final day, final class

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.

Annika decorating

Clare, Gabe and their Kichijo partners collaborating.

 

We leave Kichijo for the last time in about two hours, with hopes to return one day.

“From a Day Gone-By”

To Our Kichijo Family: You are part of all our yesterdays!

You are forever in our spirit.

We began our Farewell Party with a well-prepared schedule of fun,  and the afternoon passed far too quickly. Porter’s students were not to be intimidated by a quiz, even at a party, and the contest went to a tie-breaker in the final round. The room turned boisterous with animated card games, hundreds of charming photo-ops, tabletops scattered with delicious snacks and treats, and many, many rounds of hugs and tears.

As we drew to the close of our lovely and memorable gathering, each school sang a song important to its community and tradition. The meeting room filled with joyous teenagers fell silent save the dulcet tones of Porter’s and Kichijo students in song. It was a special, even profound, moment in time.

Finally, we took a group photo of the host-sisters, buddies, faculty and staff of both programs:

We are surely building our tomorrows from the lasting spirit of this exceptional opportunity and adventure. Thank you to our host- families and host-sisters and buddies; thank you to everyone at Kichijo  School who worked tirelessly to make our International InterMission visit such a stunning success, and thank you to Miss Porter’s School for insisting that global citizens need to be… well, in immersion experiences around the globe. Tomorrow is our final “sayonara.” Bring tissues.

Farewell Party

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.

Nearing the end of our time in Tokyo

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!

Chado: The Tea Ceremony

The Tea Ceremony, or Chado, (“Tsa-do”) is an essential part of Japanese culture and a ritual that takes years to master. The formal ceremony itself, the chaji, is a meditation on tea, the beauty and impermanence of time, and a call to a spiritual awakening of our human imperfections. Formal tea ceremonies usually last about four hours. (Ours did not!) The tea room is spare and unadorned, except for the beautiful natural elements of the tatami mats, or the presence of a singular, small display of chabana (flowers).

Some tools of the Chado ceremony: a tea container, a bamboo ladle (hishaku) for purifying one’s hands, a tea bowl for matcha, a chasen (bamboo whisk), and chashaku, the small, delicate, tea scoop above the bowl on the right.  

 

 Porter’s students had an introduction to the tea ceremony in a formal class taught at Kichijo, but when the Porter’s students left to meet host-sisters, the Kichijo students remained in class, taking instruction on the proper placement of utensils, appropriate presentation of the bowl, and the physical approach to the furo (heating structure), hibashi (fire chopsticks), and other tools and vessels included in this very specific ceremony. Kichijo students in this photo have been taking the tea class class for two years.

There are many Japanese images and poems surrounding the art and ritual of tea drinking. I’ll close with this from Kobayashi Issa, a late-18th/early 19th century Japanese poet from Kashiwabara in the mountains of the Shimano Province. His pen name, “Issa,” means “one cup of tea.” Enjoy!

the tea smoke

and the willow

together trembling

What a beautiful way to welcome-in the evening!

 

Konnichiwa from The Yellow Group!

Porter’s students love a photo-op, and the Yellow Group (below) is hamming-it-up for the camera. This was taken moments before students ran off to 6th period English class following our afternoon reflection.

Veronica, Anya, Victoria, Sofia, and now Annika (having tossed her backpack out of the photo!) in the Kichijo Courtyard. 

After classes each day, students clean the buildings:

Keeping Kichijo clean!

Finally, a few parting reflections from members of the Yellow Team today:

From Veronica: One of the many things I’ve learned during my stay in Japan is how important it is to be flexible and open-minded while travelling. I am the type of person who finds something she likes at a restaurant and then will never order anything else on the menu… the experience of trying a traditional Japanese meal makes it worthwhile. Besides being open to trying new foods, you need to be open to a new form of communication. My host family speaks relatively good English, but sometimes they have to translate through their daughter or a translation app. The communication has gotten easier as time went by. Though it was challenging at first, I’ve built a close relationship with my host family.

From Sofia: We only have two days left in Japan, which is really sad…We’ve gotten really close with our host families. I’ve tried many kinds of food which has been a little hard for me, but I’ve been open-minded and I’ve liked a lot of them. I am really happy that our school gave us this opportunity of experiencing a new culture. It has been a great trip and I’m going to miss Japan a lot.

From Bella: The best and probably most valuable part of this experience has been staying with my homestay family. They are some incredible people and the connection we have made is very special. I invited them to New York, and because of them I think I will keep returning to Japan.

Snippets from the last few days

Good Thursday morning to you all: Ohayou Gozaimasu! We’ve got mild temps and sunny skies this morning in Tokyo. Porter’s students are in classes all day today until the tea ceremony/afternoon activities following the close of the academic day. We’ll send photos back later today; in the meantime, here are snippets from the last few days of our Kichijo adventure.

Hello from the “Blue Group” at 9:15 this morning!  Students are divided into two groups to accommodate space in the Kichijo classrooms. The Blue Group stands in the Kichijo Courtyard one hour ago. 

From Eliza N about her host family and travel so far:  Japan is amazing! I have never felt so welcomed by a group of people in my life! My host family has been so kind and are always excited to show me new things and new places! The other day we went to Mt. Fuji; it was one of my favorite experiences not he trip so far, and I’m very happy I got to experience it with them!

From Victoria L following our visit to Kobe College: The warm environment created by the faculty and and students was very much appreciated, even though the visit was short. Visiting an all women’s college founded by a Porter’s Ancient was inspiring to me and helped me see firsthand what a Porter’s education. motivation, and dedication can achieve.

Cooking Club yesterday: Students made almond cookies and looked quite satisfied  with the results:

Clare, Eliza N, Sofia, and Julie BG: Watch out Chef Eric! 

We’ll spend time with the “Yellow Group” this afternoon. Be sure to check back later this afternoon for more of “Tokyo Today!”

Wednesday Morning

Students are in classes until lunchtime today, then we have reflection and “long homeroom,” an opportunity for Porter’s students to lead discussion in their homeroom class. We have several students attending Cooking Club this afternoon, so I’ll get photos and post those later today. Looks like we’re in for some rain today–the first we’ve had here since we arrived. We’ve had mild weather and plenty of sunshine–perfect for after-school activities in and around Tokyo.