3rd full day in Yamaguchi

Trip Start Apr 26, 2009
Trip End May 13, 2009

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Flag of Japan  , Chugoku,
Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our third full day in Yamaguchi was a 'meet the kids' day and 'Temple' day.

We started out by going into town in the morning to meet the Labo kids who will be going on the one month exchange program to various places in Canada and the US this Summer. ** We were among the first to arrive at a small, older building, traditional with floor mats and no chairs. Soon the kids began arriving.

There were two Labo tutors and about 25 boys and girls, about 13 years old. At first were very shy with us. After a while they warmed up to us, and started showing us their "my family" folders. These will be given to their host families in Canada and the US, a way to introduce themselves and give a little information about themselves, where and how they live and Japan.. Soon, as more kids arrived we almost had more of these to look at than we could keep up with. After this we played a game of "Bingo" with the kids. Its one of the fun exercises the Labo tutors use to get the kids to interact and speak more English. Each square on the Bingo sheet has a question, in English. The students have to ask a different person each question to collect each square. In this game, one has to get 3 full lines to win.

Eve and I were next on the program. We introduced ourselves, told the kids where we were from, about Canada, and about our travels through Japan. We also told them what they could expect, and what would be important to know, about going to a "home stay" in North America. Lastly, we took some questions. The children were very shy, and questions did not come easily, but we fielded a few from the brave students. It was a lot of fun interacting with the kids. We presented the kids each with a small pin of the Canadian flag and a post card showing Canada and its provinces and territories. Ours was a short stay here as this session was to help continue to orientate the kids to some of the aspects of going for their "home stay" and work some more on their folders. For them, today's session would be from 10 a.m. - about 3 p.m.

We now proceeded back to the house, at which time Eve and I took a quick walk up the hill above the house. It was a hot day (little did I know I was beginning to sunburn my head at this time!) Being Sunday, the baseball diamond was busy with games and the tennis courts with matches. We strolled around, looking at the trees and flowers, and then made our way back to the house for lunch which Mizue had prepared.

After lunch Haruna and I went for a walk, down the mountain from the house, to a kids play park, which also had an excellent view of the city below. It was starting to get a little warmer by the time we started our way back up to the house. I then went out on my own again, as I wanted to see a housing area called Canada Village, where all the (modular) houses were sent over from Canada to be assembled in Japan. I did stop at one of the neighbourhood vending machine to gab a refreshing grapefruit drink (grapefruits from Texas!) .

After I got back, we went to the "Laundromat Studio" to dry clothing. The Daikoku's have a washing machine (Sharp of course - Yasutoshi works at Sharp), but no dryer, as they can hang it out dry, as the climate they live in is fairly warm all year. Today Mizue and Eve each washed one load at home and, as it would be a little quicker, took our clothes to the Laundromat to dry. The machines were not coin op like at home, but time was purchased through a machine there, noted on a card, and then the card inserted into the dryer. We put our loads of laundry in the dryers and then decided to head off for ice cream. We had 30 minutes to wait. We went to one of the nearby grocery stores, and looked in wonderment at all the plastic models of the different ice cream cones and sundaes, made our selections, and sat down to enjoy. It was a perfect interlude for this hot day! After our ice cream, our laundry was done. A quick fold and we were on our way!

We took a quick trip up to the Ryuzouji Temple. It was secluded in the mountain area up a narrow road. There were not many visitors today, with most people having just visited during Golden Week. We washed our hands and mouths before entering. Mizue got us our "temple passport". This we would be able to get stamps and written verses at all the temples we visit in the future. Now we definitely must come back to Japan to fill up our passport. It has a beautiful setting in the mountains, beautiful with running waters and trees. Here we saw many statues, big and small, depicting various deities, (one very large mean looking one which scared Haruna as a child - and it was easy to see why) and a very high waterfall. Haruna and I rang a very large bell, using a very large swinging piece of wood. The sound resonated throughout the area.

We made our way to a small community centre, a medium sized, newer building, across the street from the Laundromat, for Mizue's Labo Welcome Party. This one would be attended by just her Labo students, generally about 100 kids of various ages, including a few we met this morning. Today some would be absent as it is now exam time at some of the schools. This party was not only to have the kids meet us and for us to chat with them, but to also celebrate one student, Ayaka's graduation. She started with Labo, and Mizue, when she was only 2 years old and now she is attending University. Haruna told us there is not a designated time kids are in the Labo program, but they can be part of the program while they are in school (or younger). With university, Ayaka is now too busy to stay in the program.

The kids started trickling in, and by 5:30 we had a full house. The first thing on the agenda was a "Welcome for Eve and Greg". We were welcomed to Japan and were presented with a very beautiful bouquet of flowers. Three traditional Japanese dances were performed for us. The girls ranging from about 8 to 16 years, were dressed in beautiful kimonos and hair adornments. They all looked so beautiful and the dances were amazing. Two of Elizabeth's home stay sisters, Mizuki & Hiroko, performed the last dance telling the tale of a mother and daughter.

After this a couple of songs were sung in Japanese. Next, a presentation and speech was made by Ayaka, Mizue's graduating Labo student. She spoke for about 10 minutes telling everyone about her time with Labo and how she is going on to university and will work very hard in the future. She will be studying arts and showed everyone a beautiful painting she made. Haruna said Ayaka was so shy and quiet when she was younger and has now grown into a confident, more outgoing young woman with Labo.

After all the festivities, we mingled a bit and some of the girls wanted to show us their collection of traditional hair pieces and fans. There we also got a quick lesson on fan twirling and opening. Now it was time to eat. A large pot luck supper was laid out, with everything from traditional dishes to Japanese pizzas and pastas, french fries and even some KFC. Many desserts and cookies were also available. Pictures followed and at about 8:30 we were done for the evening, as it was Sunday, and many of the kids had school the next day.

We made one stop on the way home. Mizue and Haruna wanted to show us the Five Storied Pagoda of Rurikoji Temple at night. Maho (who played the piano for us the firs evening) and Ayaka tagged along. This is the temple is very famous in Yamaguchi, and is actually a National Monument. There are no nails or screws in its structure. The temple was lit up, and though it was dark, we could tell the grounds were beautiful with its greenery, flowers and waters. We washed our hands and mouths and made a wish at the temple. We stopped to try some of the beverages in the vending machine on the way out - some were hot and some were cold from the machine, most of our selections were good with only one getting a "thumbs down". Though we couldn't see him, there we heard from one of the largest frogs in Japan, with a very deep 'ribbit' or 'geto-geto'.

Now we were really done for another very full day.

**Mizue estimates this year Labo (Japan) will be sending 600 kids to Canada, US, Korea, China, Australia and New Zealand for the one year school exchange. This summer there are 25 students going to Canada and the US for the one month summer "home stay" in North America, from the Yamaguchi prefecture alone. Labo Yamaguchi expects to receive about 10 kids to their prefecture for the summer one month "home stay".
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
The Daikoku home

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