7/8 – LiamToday was our free day. Upon waking up this morning, we were tired from our previous day with the Hokkaido University students and then our trek through Mt. Moime’s observatory platforms. We scrabbled out of bed, grabbed our nigiri and headed to Sapporo station for breakfast. Marshall, Owen, Victor, and I went to Mister Doughnut before reconvening with the rest of the group. Then, Sophia, Marshall, Kalani, Victor, and I traveled by train to the beach where we ate lunch and relaxed. Later in the evening, we left for dinner with the rest of the group. We ate at a traditional Japanese restaurant. Dinner was excellent and now all that lingers on my mind after such a long day is sleep and school tomorrow.7/11 – JayaToday was Cayla’s birthday (a girl from the other group). She turned 19 and our class threw her a party. Our whole group got up early just to go get her stuff for her birthday. We got Matcha Mochi and a Cheese Cake. Celebrating with her made me realize how lucky I am to be in such an amazing and thoughtful group. Tonight we met with college students to learn about Ainu culture. We ate bentos, learned to play an unusual instrument, and experienced cool cultural dances. Tomorrow is Sophia’s birthday and we have a ton of surprises planned and I can’t wait!7/12 KalaniEven though it’s not in the journal I feel like we can’t leave out today. Today was Sophia’s 16th birthday and we had all decided on doing something for her in the evening. We still had lessons today but we all walked together to the building stopping with Sophia where she wanted to eat breakfast . We arrived to our lessons and the day continued as usual except more people were in our class. Our whole class was there for the first time since our first day of class. At lunch the boys rushed to get a cake for Sophia, barely making it back to class in time. After class Mion-San surprised us with karaoke. Waka Waka? It ended a bit too soon and then Mion-San took some of us the the arcade and then out to dinner. When we got back to the hotel it was time to put our “plan” into action and threw her a surprise party. We sang to her then we all went around giving her presents, which mostly consisted of strawberry pocky and other foods. We also all signed a card for her.7/14 SiennaToday we woke up early to visit a women’s college. When we met up with students from the college,we split into three groups so they could show us around their campus. We saw lots of foliage and historical buildings. We watched a calligraphy group demonstration. A Japanese band also played for us and then we played games with the Japanese students. We learned how to cook thin egg slices and rice for sushi. Some people wrote wishes and hung them up on a tree for the holiday. We each made skibanas (which we learned work best with the leaves still attached to the stem). Then we ate a huge sushi salad that they had prepared for us that morning. Since we ate with the students we got to speak with them and help them prepare for an English test. We were sad to leave our new Japanese friends but are excited to meet our homestay families tomorrow!7/15 MarshallToday involved waking up at 5:30AM to pack and get ready to leave for Bihoro to start our homestay. We packed our belongings and loaded onto a bus at Sapporo Station. The bus ride was around 5 hours. However, we were prepared as we had plenty of snacks. I spent most of the ride listening to music so it went by pretty quickly. We transferred from this bus and drove the remaining way into 2 smaller vehicles to get to our destination. Once we arrived, we set up tables,chairs, and utensils for the lunch we were going to eat before the host families came. Our lunch consisted of udon, potato salad, corn, and various refreshments. After eating we cleared up the area and had another homestay orientation before families started arriving. When all the families arrived, we had a big circle where we all did greetings and then split up and went out separate ways. My host family is very cool! My family consists of grandparents, a mom and a dad, and a cute little boy and girl. They were really happy to receive the gifts that I gave them and instantly put them up on display in their shop (barber shop). We communicate mostly through google translate and gestures as we cannot speak each others’ language very well.7/16 VictorI woke up this morning and my host mom made me salmon, salad, and onigiri for breakfast. Our group played Taiko drums for a few hours. My host family made me sushi and are planning to go to an onsen tomorrow. I’m also looking forward to going to the high school tomorrow.7/20 PhinHomestay families have been fantastic! Most of us are eating constantly. We’ve visited a kindergarten, middle school, and high school. They were all pretty fun. I enjoyed the onsen and temple stay.7/21-7/22 KelseyOn these two days, students were too busy to write journal entries. On the first day, we ran around all day making food for our thank you party for the host families. Students hand-made nigiri sushi as well as soba and karaage (fried chicken.) Families had a great time. On the second day, students were with their host families and made their own memories– stories they will tell at a later time! That’s all for now– we are off to Kyoto!Presenting a gift of melons at the arigatou party.
Meeting the mayor of Bihoro
Group picture in Sapporo at the train station, with Mion-san!Playing Koto with a group of performers.
Arts and crafts in a Japanese kindergarten.