Thursday, June 13, 2013

Japan : Day 5, 6 and 7 of the 10-Day Summer Immersion Program

Wazzup Pilipinas!

This post is all about day 5, 6 and 7 of our 10 Day Summer Immersion Program in Japan.

Riding the Shinkansen bound for Saitama on Day 5

For our fifth day in Japan, we had a very quick review session in the morning on what to do for our Tokyo field work and for our school visit. Then after lunch, we had to rush to the shinkansen or bullet train, that would take us to Saitama. We would spend the next four days at the Urawa Center. The shinkansen was indeed very fast, yet I felt that the ride was very smooth and even more stable than the train. We arrived at the Urawa Center early evening, and so we just ate dinner, and prepared for the activities the following day. Again, we were treated like royalty with such five-star accommodations.

Preparing for School Visit and Tokyo Field Work  on Day 6

The schedule for our sixth day in Japan was lighter than usual. In the morning, we had a short welcome program by the staff of the Urawa Center, then we had a tour of the facilities. The staff showed us how the library, self study room, lounges, kitchen, and other facilities.

At around noon time, we were already free, so Flori Sensei and one of the staff accompanied us to the supermarket nearby. The supermarket also had the 100 yen shop, and we bought some of the things we will need for the school visit. We spent the evening planning for the Tokyo field work, since our group was not that fulfilled with our Kyoto field work. We planned to visit several places in Kyoto; unfortunately, we ran out of time because we spent so much time at Kyomizudera and Nijojou. Our volunteer, Moeka-san, was also very tired already with the walks and runs we did around the city.

So we also had to consider her condition as we did not want to abuse her kindness. So this time, we mapped out our plans on how we can visit all the places we listed for our Tokyo field work.

Going around Tokyo for our field work on Day 7
For our Tokyo field work, we planned to visit Shibuya station for the statue of Hachikou, Meijijingu, Harajuku, Asakusa and Ameyoko. I am so happy to say that we were able to successfully cover all of the places we have wanted to visit.

At the Shibuya station, I immediately ran towards the statue of Hachikou where many students and other people were also waiting to be photographed in front of it. We waited patiently for our turn. Our volunteer, Tsukada Yui-san was very game and was also very pleasant to deal with. She spoke good English, so she had a chance to practice her English with us, and we also had time to practice Nihongo with her.

We made a brief stop at Bic Camera in Shibuya to buy cameras. Minah-san and I were very glad that we were able to buy cameras at only Php 5,000-6,000 in price range, when in fact the exact same models in Manila cost around Php 11,990 and above. What a great deal!

Next stop for us was the Meijijingu. It is actually a beautiful shrine found in the middle of a city. Tokyo is the cosmopolitan city and capital of Japan, and everything within and around it was ultra-high technology and very modern. But stepping inside the Meijijingu was a magical experience because it was like being transported back to early 1900 when the shrine was being built. Meijijingu is actually located within a forest that covers over 700, 000 square meters. No wonder, many people feel really relaxed because the place is surrounded by hundreds of species of plants. When we went there, many people in office attire and school uniforms were there also, presumably to seek help in looking for work and in passing examinations, as what most Japanese would do. The Japanese people believed that the spirits of the dead ancestors, specifically Emperor Meiji and his wife to whom the shrine was dedicated, would answer their request positively.

From a distance, we took pictures of the place, and discreetly took videos of the people as they were purifying their hands and writing down their prayer requests.  

After Meijijingu, we went to Harajuku, the fashion district of Tokyo. We meant to take pictures of the AKB48 shop. AKB48 is a popular girl group in Japan and since our students know them, we took pictures of their shop. Along the way we also found cosplayers, and had our pictures taken with them.      

We took a quick lunch at McDonald’s in Harajuku, then proceeded to Asakusa. In Asakusa, we bought some authentic Japanese souvenirs like kokeshi dolls. Celine-san and Reina-san bought small paintings and other goods. Then we went to Ameyoko or Ameyokocho for the chocolate shop. In Ameyoko, you just pay 1,000yen and they will fill your bag with chocolates to the brim. But we didn’t like the chocolates being sold, so we did not buy. 

We were able to visit almost all of the places we wanted to see, so we were really very happy with the Tokyo field work. We took many pictures and videos of the things and places we wanted our students to see, so I guess we can say we got the mission accomplished. 

On the way back to the center from Kita Urawa Train station, we got lost again! This time, we rode the right train at the right time. However, locating the center from the station was difficult, because everything looked the same. We tried using the map, but even the map was of little use because it wasn’t very clear. So we had to ask around for help. We were really touched when a Japanese man in business suit came to our rescue and was actually willing to take us to the center. We also received help from two Pinays who knew where the center was. Thank God that we arrived home at around 7PM safe and sound.

Contributed by: Isabelle Sanchez

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