Over the holidays, 12 students from Wollemi embarked on a week-long exchange trip to Dotonbori, Japan! The trip included excursions with their hosts to the Umeda sky building, the HEP Five shopping complex, Kyoto, Osaka castle, Asakusa Sensoji temple, and Universal Studios.
They spent their weekdays at Kaimei High School, where their hosts attend. There they attended classes, learned calligraphy, wrote haikus, did some Japanese cooking, and attended a Japanese tea ceremony. Overall the boys had an excellent time in Japan, from the delicious food, making new friends, and comparing the differences between Australian and Japanese culture. Many of them found it a life-changing experience and would like to go again. We asked them each a few questions about their trip. Read their answers below!
What was the highlight of the whole tour?
Why was that the highlight?
What did you learn?
Any words/advice for future participants?
The grass is greener on the other side
You won’t regret it
All the sights and the different food
There are no bins so you need to carry around plastic bags for rubbish.
Make sure you always have your phone on you as it’s very easy to get lost and you don’t really need a data plan for Japan as there is usually free wifi everywhere. Another tip is that if you see some completely different food that you don’t want, just try it most Japanese food is heavenly!
The highlights would be the kendo class for me.
The lesson was quite disciplined but fun.
I learned that there are no bins. The trains are always packed not like Sydney.
Make sure to find shops like 711 marts that have bins. In trains wear your backpack forward, this will make sure your bag doesn't hit people. The 7/11 is your best friend if you're low on money. The people there speak little to no English so download google translate. Google or Apple pay does not exist at most stores that accept cards.
I have a lot of things that I enjoyed there during the trip but my highlight would probably be the excursion with our buddies.
I chose this one out of all the other things because I think that during this excursion we were all able to meet buddies of everyone else which helped us to connect with other people that we don't really know, especially having to be in a different country with different cultures we can really learn a lot about each other.
I learnt that there are many things that Japan has that Sydney does not. First of all the fact that there is no rubbish is absolutely amazing, it was really clean there. Two, there are no bins at all. Finally, the bidets on the toilets are actually very cool.
My advice to those who would go to Japan would to be learn the language first. Take time to actually learn it because for us in our case we weren't even able to communicate with people there properly but luckily for me, I knew a tiny bit of Japanese there so it was not much of a trouble but it is still very much advisable that you should learn the language first. Always take a bag for your rubbish otherwise you can be in big trouble and get a fine for littering. I know this is pretty obvious but you should DEFINITELY try the food there, it is AMAZING. You will love it no doubt. Be sure to learn how to use the utensils there such as chopsticks there because spoons and forks are quite rare to use in most restaurants. As well as manners used when eating and what utensils are to be used for that specific thing.
The food and the people
It was so welcoming
Japan in a way is very similar to Sydney
Definitely have a little backpack to hold passports and other essentials
The students at Kamei
Made a lot of nice friends there
That Japan has a much more sophisticated way of living
You won’t regret going
The students and the sightseeing
Very nice and had loads of fun
There were no bins. Japan was very clean. Very beautiful
Eat everything no matter what. And learn the language!!
Hanging out with Wollemi and Kaimei friends.
It was great fun and we made many priceless memories.
Opportunities like these are rare so make the most out of them.
Don’t be afraid to talk to people and learning a bit of Japanese can make the trip smoother.