Youth Group Visiting Japan
I would like to thank the people behind this successful program.
(Participant in the Philippines university student group visiting Japan May 2009)
I was chosen as one of the Filipino Delegates who was sent in Japan.
On the first day we arrived in Japan, we stayed at the Shinjuku Washington Hotel. On the second day, we visited the Imperial Palace and took our group picture in the famous Imperial Palace Bridge. We also visited the Edo Museum. On the third day, we moved in our designated prefectures. Our group moved in Hyogo, Kobe via Shinkansen. Before we visited the Bosai Mirai Kan (Disaster Mitigation Study), we had our lunch in a restaurant and met my first Japanese friend, Tomoko, and we are exchanging emails and letters.
The next day, we visited to the high school. Our host brothers and sisters were studying there; we also took part in their classes. Almost all of the students were friendly especially the friends of my host sister and her teachers. They were very welcoming. Together with our host brothers and sisters we went to the University. Their school was high-tech and well facilitated. After finishing our activities for that day, we finally met our host family.
My Host family Akio, Ryoko and her best friend picked me up together with Riko, my host sister. They played the song of Kou Shibasaki's "Katachi Arumono" while I also sang on the car. They were so surprised because I knew the song. When we got home, my host mother, Kaori greeted me with a warm welcome. We had our dinner at the rooftop; we ate a lot of food and told a lot of wonderful stories to each other. They also turned on their heaters because I was very cold. That night, they put a small "sakura" box in my pillow. They knew that I really wanted to see a cherry blossom, I was very touched. It contained 3 pieces of sakura candies and until now, I still haven't eaten it. I also gave them presents: a box of dried mangoes, a box of tamarind, a picture frame and some key chains and bracelets. They really liked the taste of dried mangoes.
The next day Riko and I went to their school to participate in their school sports festival. I was the first Filipino to participate in the Obstacle Race. In that day also, we presented a traditional dance in their school, and some students joined us. After the activities, my family and I went shopping in Sanomiya but Riko was not with us because she had a review class. We had our dinner at the famous Kobe Port. We ate in an Italian Restaurant. The ambiance was perfect. The Kobe port was really a beautiful spot during the night.
The next day was our farewell party with our host families. Before we went to the meeting place, my host mother, Kaori, Riko and I went shopping again in Sanomiya. During our breakfast, they surprised me by giving me an original album of my favorite Japanese singer, Kou Shibasaki. But the most precious gift that I received from them was the priceless memories that we shared together as a family. They treated me as if I really were a part of their family. No other gift can replace that. My memories of them will never fade even when I am old. I am so glad that I was able to make them laugh many times. I am grateful to have them as my family. I will never forget them for the rest of my life because the three days I had with them was such precious moments. They will always have a very special place in my heart.
Sadly, we needed to go back to Tokyo as soon as possible because the (A) H1N1 flu virus was spreading. Our activities in Kobe were cancelled. But the JICE surprised us because in exchange with our cancelled activities in Kobe we watched a live Sumo wrestling back in Tokyo. For me, it was a breath taking experience because I only watched Sumo wrestling on TV before. We had our lunch in a restaurant where the Sumo wrestlers eat. We ate the same food. Then we visited the Science Museum and the Planetarium. After that we went to Odaiba, where you can see the replica of Statue of Liberty in New York. From afar, you can see the popular Rainbow Bridge of Japan that resembles the famous San Francisco Bridge. You can also view the illustrious Tokyo tower that looks like the Eiffel tower in Paris
We went to the renowned Asakusa temple. It is famous for the 3 giant lanterns in their gate. The moment I set foot in Asakusa Temple, all the negative energies from my body disappeared. I was sad that time because the next day we had to go back to the Philippines. We had our farewell party that night, The Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Foreign Ministry of Japan; Mr.Nobuhide Minorikawa was also present in our farewell party.
I still communicate to my Japanese friends even after the tour. I still chat with Tomoko Kurosawa, my first Japanese friend in Japan and Takayuki Wakamatsu, the host brother of my co-delegate. We communicate via email and social sites like Facebook. They are very friendly and nice to me.
I would like to thank the people behind this successful program. The Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS Programme), Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE), and National Youth Commission (NYC). Without them it would have been impossible for us to go to Japan and we would never experience this kind of overflowing joy that we still have.