Japan – Day 4

Good evening all, or should we say, ‘good morning’!? Today our friends jet-lag and exhaustion certainly made their presence known- I don’t think a mini-bus of 13 teenage girls have ever been so quiet; ‘The Best Driver in Kyoto’, certainly wasn’t complaining! Don’t worry though, we quickly found our zeal for exploring and we were definitely met by thrilling visits and equalled excitement from the students of Kyoto Koka Junior Highschool, but more on that later …
     Our day officially began at 9:30 ( ‘yes – a lie in!’), after a delicious range of intriguing Japanese breakfast cuisine and greatly missed western style buffet foods. We met with our guide (Keiko) and embarked on our first adventure; ‘ To the KinKaku-hi we go!’. The Golden Pavillion ( as it is known to the western world), is an incredibly scenic location full of culture and religious history. The kinkaku itself is coated in gold foil on lacquer  , and a sight of extremely intricate beauty. Alongside the obvious immediate allure, the temple is home to relics of the Buddha. The gardens and buildings are said to represent the pure land of Buddha in the world, and the area overall is recognised as a World Cultural Heritage Site ( as of 1994). There are also statues of the Buddha (to offer coins in exchange for good luck to), and, according to traditional Buddhist tales, partial ashes of the Buddha are located in the prestigious rooms themselves. When attempting to land coins successfully in the pot, one can say with confidence Mr Davenport’s aim was far from accurate, as was Aahi’s( who received 2 years bad luck consequently), but Lia has a deadly accuracy! As the most picturesque visit to date, the staple of Muromachi- period architecture is absolutely a Japanese must see rich with culture and beauty. The golden temple, in the golden sun, wins gold from us !
    Back on the bus and off on our travels again, this time to the highly anticipated school visit. As soon as we passed through the gates, we were met by bright eyes and wide smiles. ‘Konichiwa!’ To begin the session, the students and staff presented a talk on Kyoto and then proceeded to lead a tour. Despite a total of 130 students, the building was great in size and facilities ( including a full-sized auditorium and traditional culture rooms) , and quite simply put the Devisdale to shame! During lunch we were taught how to use the vending machine system, and enjoyed a meal of chicken and rice- not quite the famous AGGS brownies, but delicious nonetheless! Afterwards we joined an English class and played a game of, ‘Two Truths, One lie’, which allowed us to learn about the girls and find lots in common ; Eva especially indulged in engaging conversations about K-Pop phenomenons ‘BTS’ and ‘TWICE’. They then performed mini- assemblies on their favourite parts of Kyoto and their enthusiasm was contagious! We definitely want to come back and explore Japan during Cherry Blossom season; 2020 reunion anyone?!  The students were incredibly proud of their school and culture, generally an absolute credit- as we hope we have been to our school as well. Hopefully by the time of our GSCE’s, our language of choice as as strong as their English !
     Our third visit of the day was to Nijo-jo Castle, another World Cultural Heritage Site. Upon arrival, we were asked to remove our shoes as a form of respect and then entered the grand building. The floors are often referred to as,’nightingale floors’, and described by legend as a purposeful rat tic to detect invading parties. However, the singing floorboards are a result of old age and the  longevity of use. Through the castle the walls are decorated by paintings, which can be used to differentiate between time periods. The earliest painting depict tigers (a symbol of power used to intimidated enemies) but as you progress the art begins to convey messages of good health and luck ,by portraying cherry blossoms and including bamboo illustrations. As the home of the Shogun and family, the castle is of a traditional nature and include floor levels to symbolise status ; the Emperor always being position above the military leader. Furthermore despite the authentic identity, the castle is in fact a 1950’s replica of the 14th centenary original as the building was burned down in the aftermath of WW2 ( by vengeful monks).The experience enables great appreciation of evolution in Japan, from the opening to trade in the 18th century, the regrowth after WW2 loses and the abolishing of the top knot!
      Only one quick stop left in today’s sight seeing adventure : the Heian Shrine. Together we gathered to make wishes and purchase charms to wish loved ones luck and success.. The Shrine was a captivating sight of religion in practice, and a fantastic way to immerse ourselves into the culture of Japan. Finally we travelled back to our hotel for the next couple of nights. There we relaxed and regenerated before heading off for dinner.
    Tonight we were allocated a 2000 yen budget, and dispersed across multiple restaurants to enjoy our penultimate evening meal. While some braves new Japanese cuisine and others retried new-found favourites, we opted for a flavour of our food home away from home: a good old pizza! We know, we know;  ‘ but, you’re in Japan!’  To make matters worse ( or better, depending on  how you look at it), we also had time to go shopping were we enjoyed a good old Starbuck; basic much !? We loved experiencing ordering despite the language barrier, and the cheap ‘Forever21’ prices didn’t hurt either!
     That’s it from us, sayōnara! We hope you have enjoyed our blog.
      From Amba, Eva and Malak.

Japan – Day 3

The traditional style breakfast this morning included natto (fermented soy beans) which were an acquired taste but something we were all eager try. After our interesting breakfast, we packed our bags and got in a coach to the lake. On the way, our guide Keiko, taught us the numbers up to 20 in Japanese and told us about Kyoto (our residence for the next few days) and how it used to be the capital city of Japan.
When we arrived at the lake, we got on a pirate ship and sailed to a volcano. The ride was very beautiful and there were pirates made out of plastic on the top deck. It was extremely windy and cold, so a lot of people went below deck to have some snacks in peace.
We then got on some cable cars to the top of the volcano. The view was also quite breathtaking and we spent most of the journey frantically waving to people in the other cars (only 2 of them waved back). Despite our futile attempts having few results, we persisted in our endeavour for the entirety of the journey.
When we reached the top, we could barely see anything due to the violent wind and the thick smoke coating the side of the mountain. This particular volcano was famous for black eggs. They are made in a natural chemical reaction and if you eat them, you are meant to gain 7 years of life. Naturally, most of us tried them and they tasted surprisingly nice. The coach met us at the top of the volcano and took us back down.
We arrived at a station and waited patiently for our train. What we didn’t know was that the whole station was dedicated to bullet trains. We soon found out when we suddenly heard a thunderous rumbling coming towards us and before we could look, a train was racing past us, scaring the life out of us! After a few more similar events, we got used to the deafening trains and eventually, ours arrived. The train was surprisingly still and we could barely tell that we were speeding through Japan at 260 km per hour (except for the blurring buildings outside the windows, of course).
We soon arrived at our new hotel – a very modern and fancy building- and most of us seized the opportunity for some more shopping in the mall across the road from our hotel. After some intense shopping, and when we had settled in to our rooms, we went to dinner at a semi-traditional restaurant. We were given a platter of food for us to cook on a pan in the middle of our table. The food was very nice, but we struggled a lot with making our food actually edible!
We then headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation before another jam packed day.

Japan – Day 2

Japan Day 2
Feeling slightly more energised than the previous day , we set off from the hotel to visit the Meiji Shinto shrine. Our guide explained to us how Shinto shrines were for happy occasions such as weddings and other celebrations.
As we walked through, we encountered a group of Japanese school children on a trip to the shrine. They were very friendly and we took plenty of photos together! In addition, we learned how to make a wish and ‘cleanse’ ourselves with water!
On our way to lunch, we had a brief visit to the famous Takashite street which is very popular with the youth of Tokyo due to its brightly coloured storefronts & uplifting atmosphere. To many parent’s delight, we were running behind schedule, so did not spend much money!
We had an amazing lunch Sakura-Tei and got to make our own Ononomiyaki ( a sort of omelette)
It was delicious!
Soon afterwards, we headed to the train station to travel to Hakone in the romancecar train . Our hotel is a traditional Japanese house and at dinner we wore kimonos and learned how to cook meat in the shabu shabu style. We then went back to our rooms to enjoy a relaxing cup of green tea and write this blog. Arigato!

Japan – Day 1

Konnichiwa!  Welcome to our first blog about the exciting adventures we will have in Japan.

You probably thought our day started off normally where we are all energised and ready to go. Wrong! Half of us were waking up at 2:00 am because of jet lag, and trying to fall asleep. However, the day quickly turned into one filled with new experiences.

After a lovely breakfast of some traditional Japanese food, we took a train to the Outer Imperial Palace, home to the 125th Emperor and Empress of Japan. We admired the natural beauty of the stunning area (and took lots of pictures, of course!)

Our adventure continued as we walked to our Sushi making Class. We improved our sushi making skills (if we had any in the first place) as we were taught by a professional sushi chef. A lady taught us about the history of Sushi. Did you know: After a devastating earthquake in Tokyo, sushi chefs migrated to other parts of Japan, which is how it became popular all over the country.

For lunch, we gladly devoured our handmade sushi, although some of the shapes of our sushi were questionable!

After our delicious meal, we visited Tokyo National Museum, which is home to many culturally important artefacts. From armour to artwork, the museum had a lot of interesting information.

Lastly, we visited Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple. As we approached, our tour guide showed us a place in which we could get our fortunes. To do this, you shake a tin and make a wish. You pull a stick out of the tin with a number on it. Each number corresponds to a shelf with a fortune inside of it. If the odds are in a favour, you get a good fortune which you can keep. If you receive a bad fortune, you can tie it to a railing to leave the bad fortune behind. It was very amusing to see what people got, and for some people their fortune also can true!

Exhausted but nevertheless excited, we wondered down Nakamise shopping street, in the hopes of finding presents for our loved ones. But we still have many opportunities to do some shopping! Returning to our rooms, we seek the bliss of our beds, before remembering that we have an enticing dinner to look forward to, which is enough to raise our energy levels!

After dinner, we will try to have an early night so we are ready for another jam-packed day!

Delisha, Symal and Aahi

A Paris

We have just landed in Paris following a flight on a propeller plane! Quick pit stop and refresh before we head to Tokyo at 16:05.

Everyone is very excited! 🇯🇵

Welcome to the Japan Trip Blog!

This is where the Japan trip team will be posting updates about our various activities for parents to see. We will ask each of you to write some of the blog daily to let parents know what we have been doing. Take photos and ask permission before you do! PS. students are not allowed phones at all in the school visit, but we will take a photo that you can have.