A delegation of 10 students, Grades 7 – 12 and five adults travelled to Shiraoi and Sapporo, Japan for a 12-day visit, July 12 – 23.
Thursday, July 12 they arrived in Chitose Airport at 9:20 p.m. and bussed to Tomakomai to stay the night in a hotel. They were all ready for a good night’s sleep.
Friday, July 13 – after breakfast at the hotel where they sampled many Japanese traditional breakfast foods including natto, the group headed off to meet the Mayor at city hall. They were welcomed by the entire city hall staff clapping as they arrived. The delegation exchanged greetings with the mayor and counsellors, exchanged gifts and each of our delegation introduced themselves in Japanese followed by a tour around Shiraoi. Their first visit was the Ainu museum where traditional dancers preformed. Then on to Sendai clan, Shiraoi manor house museum where Karen Fyles dressed in Samurai warriors suit and had her photo taken. After that on to Quesnel House where the delegation had their picture taken in front of the one-third-sized replica of the Quesnel City Gold Pan. At 5:30 p.m., the delegates met their host families, who were as nervous and excited at meeting as the delegates were. The evening was spent getting to know one another.
Saturday, July 14 – delegates spent time doing various activities with their host families, then met in the evening for a welcoming party where traditional Japanese entertainment was shared (dancers and drumming) along with an incredible feast of Japanese food.
Sunday, July 15 delegates spent the day with their billet families doing a variety of activities.
Another early morning, Monday July 16 – delegates toured the Marine Park, Noboribetsu Ninja Park, Jigokundani (Hell Valley Hot Spring) and Lake Kutarra. They enjoyed the many sites along the way and time flew by quickly.
Tuesday, July 17 and Thursday, July 19 – delegate students attended school with their billets and participated in a variety of activities, from cooking and music to academic subjects including English and Japanese classes.
Adult delegates toured the schools, visiting classes and connecting with Twin Schools where gifts were exchanged.
Thursday, July 19 – the adult delegates and Shiraoi community members climbed Mt. Tarumai, a nearby volcano and enjoyed incredible views of the area.
Friday, July 20 – the delegation spent the morning walking around Shiraoi visiting shops and sites, enjoyed lunch at the Grandma’s restaurant. Later at Kura they spent the afternoon being dressed in kimonos and working on flower arranging. In the middle of the photo of the delegation with Japanese ladies in kimonos is the director of Kura; her name is Kunie Ogiwara. In the evening the group were treated to a farewell party at “Kura,” a Shiraoi community group where hamburgers were cooked on an outside grill. Inside they all gathered enjoying music and dancing the night away. It was evident the connections that had been made during the week.
July 21 – Saturday morning many tears were shed as they said their goodbyes after an incredible week with the many host families and community members of Shiraoi, who welcomed them into their homes and community. Delegates then headed off to Sapporo to visit the Science Centre, Sunpiazza Shopping Mall and the Historic Village of Hokkaido. In the evening dinner and shopping was enjoyed at the Arcade mall which was walking distance from Hotel Okura.
Sunday, July 22 – delegates visited the Winter Sport Museum where they tried many sport simulations and rode the chairlift to the top of the ski jump for a view of Sapporo. Next was a much enjoyed visit to the Chocolate Factory (Sapporo’s Disneyland!), then lunch and shopping at the Factory Mall. The evening was spent at the Arcade mall and nearby parks where summer celebrations were in progress.
Monday, July 23 –the group boarded the plane at Chitose Airport for the flight home via Seoul, Korea where they changed planes. It was hard to believe how much they had done in such a short time, how many
connections were made with the wonderful people of Shiraoi and how much amazing food they had eaten, they all were sad to leave, vowing to return to Japan soon!
– submitted by