On 13 April, 17 weary eyed but excited students, and three teachers, Mr Gauci (Dad), Ms Steele (Mum) and Ms Hawkins (big sister), made a very early arrival at the Adelaide Airport. We boarded our flight to Hong Kong unsure of the incredible memories awaiting us. After 8 ½ hours on the plane, we landed in the Hong Kong International Airport. Seeing as this was our first experience with foreign currency, many of us jumped at the opportunity to purchase expensive coffee and muffins! Another four hours of flying found us in a cold and wet Osaka.
The following morning we dressed into our school uniforms that had been strategically rolled in our suitcases. A day at Osaka Seiko Boys School followed. We performed, joined English classes and witnessed an amazing judo demonstration.
That evening when Ms Hawkins and Mr Gauci went to purchase our tickets around Japan (our beloved Japan Rail Pass), the rest of us went to dinner in ‘Mio’ Shopping Complex. We spilt into small groups trying a range of different cuisine. A group of us found ourselves in a Japanese noodle bar with Ms Steele, a night none of us will ever forget!
The next day we were up early heading to Hiroshima. When we arrived we met our guide and made our way to Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum. It was surprising to see another side to the war story and to see the devastation the bomb caused to the people of Hiroshima. This was also our first experience with Okonomiyaki, a dish with a very unique taste that suited some of us and not others. That night we also experienced tremors from the earthquake in Kumamoto.
Day two in Hiroshima was spent in the company of wild deer at Miyajima Island. The deer came right up to us, one in particular forming a bond with Mr Gauci, whom he named ‘Persistence.’ Although filled with deer, it was also filled with small shops and stunning shrines, and everyone was so respectful.
That evening was Okonomiyaki (take two) and karaoke. Between the 20 of us, we managed to find the money to get us a return bus trip and entry to karaoke in downtown Hiroshima. We had so much fun belting out some of our favourite tunes!
Our next stop was Kyoto. We found ourselves staying in a traditional Japanese hotel, a very different and interesting experience! Our beds were on a bamboo floor and meals were eaten from the floor also. Kyoto is home to many temples, some of which we visited on day two. Our favourite temple was Kinkaku-jia, golden temple in the middle of a lake. We did a bit of shopping and re-boarded the bus to a Japanese tea ceremony. This was our first encounter with green tea and red bean paste dumplings, an interesting experience!
Back onto trains again, this time towards Seto where St Capitanio is located. It was a delight to meet with the girls whom we had farewelled three weeks earlier. We arrived at the school to a warm welcoming from the sisters and students. We performed for the girls and we were lucky enough to hear their amazing voices as they performed for us as a school. We participated in classes and were amazed how different it is to Australia.
Our last stop was Tokyo, where we participated in a Taiko Drumming session in which we learnt lots and had a lot of fun. Tokyo meant one thing…. Disneyland! We arrived at Disneyland bright and early and headed straight to Space Mountain, a favourite for all of us. Many laughs were had and memories made, it truly is the happiest place on earth.
On our last day in Tokyo we were all admittedly a little tired from yesterday’s adventures. We took part in a traditional sushi making course giving us a greater understanding of Japanese culture. Our last night was spent reflecting upon the memories that had brought us together as a family for the last 11 days.
We would like to say a massive thank you to the school for providing us with this opportunity. To Ms Steele and Ms Hawkins, thank you for everything, for all of your help, at any hour of the day, your positivity and kindness, thank you for allowing us to get to know you so well and helping make it a trip we will never forget!
Jessie and Sarah
Japanese Music Tour Students