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To view the photos, please click on the links. From there you can click on each photo and view individually or as a slide show.

Last two days

Due to the weather our last two days were a little changed around. After a well deserved sleep in on Sunday, we walked to Ueno Zoo. Our main reason for visiting was to see
the two pandas. They were gorgeous and we all wanted to bring them home. It was then a quick sprint to see some tof the other animals- my favourites were the polar bear and the gorillas.
From the zoo it was a short walk to Ameyoko market for a spot of shopping. Then a quick train ride to Asakusa to see a temple and try to get some more shopping done. It was a short walk to "kitchen street" from there. Unfortunately this weekend is a long weekend and this city is mayhem. There are more people than I have ever seen before. Kitchen street was not a pleasant place to be.

Due to the change around, it was then time to shoot over to Akihabata- electric city. More shopping done! This group is big on shopping. Back to the hotel to start packing the bags, then off to dinner. Dinner was Korean BBQ. This is a fantastic way to eat. All the food is chopped, you simply select it, take it back to your table and cook on the BBQ at the table. The kids loved the waffle maker and the shaved ice machine.

Today was the sky tree. This is a brand new building and is huge! the observation deck is 350m high. We knew there would be a wait but we weren't expecting nearly two and a half hours. People were everywhere. The Japanese are very good at waiting patiently of long periods of time, unlike us Kiwis. The views from the top were stunning, but it was only a quick trip due to the delay and the hoardes of people.

A quick train ride to Asakusa to grab some lunch, then it was off to the airport. This is where I farewelled everyone and sent them on their way as I am staying a bit longer.

Everyone has had a fantastic time and from what I overheard this morning, time in Haramura is most definitely the highlight. Everyone has learnt so much, whether intentionally or accidentally. New friendships have been made, new foods tried, new experiences experienced. I love coming here with the school group. Each group is different and I see things through the kids eyes and learn from them, just as much as they learn from me. Thank you for letting your children take part. I hope they have got as much from it as I have.


Disneyland


Disneyland- the pictures tell it all really, so not too much to write about. Being a Saturday we needed to be there early, so we left the hotel at 7.45 and go
to Disneyland just after 9. Unfortunately one of the major attractions is under reconstruction so we couldn't ride it. We took off straight to splash mountain
and used our fast pass to book in a ride. The earliest time was between 4-5pm! We all then shot round to space mountain and joined the queue. Two hours
later we were finally on the ride. Lots of screaming and laughing, it was worth the wait. The crowds were huge and it was extremely hot. We broke up into
smaller groups and wandered around. When we all met up together, everyone had bought ears or hats and everyone had had a great day. By 5.30, we had
found ourselves a spot for the light parade. The parade doesn't start until 7.30, but getting a good spot early is essential, plus it gives everyone a chance to
slow down. The parade is amazing and the photos certainly do not do it justice. After the parade, there is a short wait and then the fireworks begin. After the
fireworks it was a scrum to the train. All the kids were easy to spot on the train ride home as they were wearing all their new hats. There was a quick stop at
Mcdonalds and we were back at the hotel by just after 10, with some very weary kids. Even though due to the large crowds, we didn't get as many rides done
as we wanted, it was a fantastic day. Don't be surprised if you get greeted with strange hats coming through the gates at the airport!


Friday 5th October

A buffet breakfast after a large buffet dinner. Where do these kids fit this food? Bags had to be packed and stored before we left for the morning. We
were at the Peace Park museum by just after 8.30. In the three times I have gone, this was the quietest and we almost had the place to ourselves.
The museum is hard to describe. The first bit is about nuclear weapons and how they work, then about why the bomb was used and why Hiroshima was
chosen. The next part is on the devastation of the city as a whole- how the people reacted and how the city coped. The most harrowing part is how it
effected the people. The stories are just horrific and some of the exhibits are shocking. This is my third time to the museum and I still find it shocking.
Pita made the comment that she never wants to come to the museum again, it was too yucky. Everyone came out very somber and sat quietly for a little while.

There were lots of questions through the morning. The main question being, how could people do this to others? After the museum we wandered to the
Sadako children's memorial. This is where we hung out paper cranes. Shani and Amelia were chosen to hang them as they had made the most. Pita was
chosen to be the representative to ring the bell. A group of blind students were also visiting the memorial and sang a lovely song all about the bombs. Without
being prompted our kids stood and listened silently and then clapped loudly when they had finished. It was lovely.

Next was the A-Dome. We all had a walk round the building and taking in the damage. On the way back to the hotel we went via the shopping street.
Clothes galore were bought, trailers maybe required at the airport to get the extra stuff home. We were back at the hotel just after 12 so as to catch the
bus to the train station. We had bit a wait. Yasu found us a spot upstairs where we could all sit, we were lined up all sitting on the floor. A little Japanese
girl, about 4, came up to play. She was running about and visiting us all and she was very, very cute. Ms Wolochaty had some lollipops and a NZ pen,
Macy added a little notepad, and gave it to the little girl. Her mother was very appreciative and they wandered off. About 4 minutes later, the mother is
back, with a gift for us all! She had bought some little cakes for us all. The was an extremely nice gesture and everyone yelled out thank you to her.

Bullet train left at 1:45, for a 4 hour trip to Tokyo. It was an interesting trip, lots to see along the way, including mt Fuji. We hit Tokyo train station on rush
hour. Doesn't help that it's also a long weekend so lots of people are heading away. We had bit of a battle to get to the bus. Once on the bus it was a 20
minute trip to the hotel. We had time to dump our bags and then it was dinner. Dinner was just down the street and was on the 3rd floor of a pokey little
building. Dinner was Chinese and it was fair wolved down. Once again, far too much was eaten. Due to tomorrow being Disneyland day, it was an early
night, as tomorrow will be a BIG day.


4th October


Thursday 4th. A lovely Hiroshima morning. We started with a short walk to the edge of the Peace Park to catch our boat to Miyajima. It was a 45 min
ride, down the waterways and into the bay. Once on the island it's a short walk to the itsukima shrine, of course avoiding all the deer on the way.
The island isn't a small one. It is very large and also very mountainous. The shrine is known as the floating shrine as as high tide the water surrounds it
and it looks like its floating. The torii (gate) is further out in the bay and also appears to float at high tide. Miyajima island is an extremely popular tourist
destination and also very popular for traditional Japanese weddings. Every time I have been there, we have managed to catch a glimpse of a wedding
and today was no different.

After wandering around the shrine, it was a short trek up hill to the rope way. The rope way is in two stages, a gondola ride, then a cable car. It takes
people to the top of Mt Misen. Lunch was had at the top, then some of the more adventurous took the half hour climb all the way to the top. It was a very
hot day and it wasn't an easy walk but the views were worth it.

Coming down the mountain and back to the ferry was done via the shops. The poor shops didn't know what hit them. Samurai swords were bought left,
right and centre. At the ferry terminal, Amelia suddenly realised that see had misplace her wallet. Her and Ms Wolochaty ran off at great knots to try and
find, but alas they were not fast enough. The ferry left without them. I stayed behind, as I knew how to get back to the hotel. The three of us went back to
the store where Amelia had bought something, in the hope she had dropped it there, but no luck. I found the local Koban station (police) and phew, it had
been handed in. All money was intact and Amelia was very, very relieved. We now had some time to kill until the next ferry, so some retail therapy was
required. We even managed to find a place where the little fish clean your feet. I have no idea what it is called or why the fish do this, but it is the most
bizarre feeling in the world. We were shrieking and giggling due to the sensation and the tickling. All the other shoppers were giving us very strange looks.

Dinner was a buffet and a very delicious one. Plates were loaded up many times and the food was disappearing at a fast rate of knots. When they got
started on the chocolate fountain, there was no stopping them. There was a lot of moaning and groaning on the way back to the hotel due to bulging
tummies.

At the hotel there was some time to get bags sorted, then those that wanted to, could join Mr Sweeney on a stroll to see the A-Dome lit up at night.
The A-Dome is one of the few buildings that survived the bomb. It has been preserved in the state that the bomb left it- twisted metals and steel. With
being lit up, it was kind of eerie but beautiful at the same time. The kids had lots of questions and Mr Sweeney tried his best to answer them. We took a
small detour on the way home down a shopping street. The shops had all shut at 8.30 but we thought it was still worth a look. Part way down the street
we came across an artist drawing caricatures for 100yen. Macy and Sarah jumped at the chance and had their pictures done, as did Miss Gibson and I.
We were highly entertained by the artist and his friends. Poor Gary was asked if Tracey and I were his wives, Tracey's reply, was no, he was our
grandfather! The kids thought this was a hoot and have now started calling him Papa Sweeney. By the time we got back to the hotel it was nearly 11.
A lot later than we had anticipated, but we had had a great time.


Wednesday 3rd October


Well the faces at breakfast said it all, yesterday was exhausting. There were some half asleep kids arriving for brekkie. After breakfast it was panic stations
for some, as bags had to be packed. Some of those bags are looking very full after all the gifts received in Haramura and after all the shopping. I think some
packing lessons will be in order very soon! We stored our bags at the youth hostel and were on our way.
It was a couple of train rides to the Kaiyukan aquarium. This is a huge aquarium that houses many, many animals: otters, sea otters, jellyfish, seal,
coati, capybaras, dolphins, manta rays, hammerheads, sharks galore and of course the mighty whale shark. The exhibits are breathtaking, especially the
whale shark. His size is immense and he is only a baby. We were here for 2 hours, wandering around, taking in the sights. The gift shop got a very good work
out with many soft toys being bought, myself included- sorry Mum, the frog collection has been added to!

We had lunch outside. Another very hot day. It doesn't help that when traipsing round the railways stations, air con either doesn't exist or is up far too high for
us. At the youth hostel they requested that the rooms be kept at 27 degrees! All the hotel corridors are extremely hot and are best not to be spending a huge
amount of time in.
Another couple of trains back to pick up our bags, then it was migration time, walking all our gear to the station and through the station. We looked a sight,
25 people, single file, all wearing same shirts and hats, all carrying the same bags and obediently following Yasu. We had wee bit of a wait until our train.
Kids were sitting on the floor all over the place, it was too hot to stand. This was our first bullet train ride and the kids were very excited. We almost had the
car to ourselves. The trains are 16 carriages long and each car seats 100 people. The train is like a plane, it's very smooth and certainly doesn't feel like you are
going over 200 km/ h. The trip to Hiroshima is 1 1/2 hours long by bullet train, over 3 hours by car. There is even a 'trolley dolley' selling food just like an airhostess.

We arrived in Hiroshima just after 4. There was a bus waiting for us to take us to the hotel. There was an hour or so of quiet time in rooms- everyone needed this
time. Dinner was my all mine favourite, okinaminyaki. This is a Japanese pancake, full of cabbage, noodles, meat, sauce, and mayo. It is a specialty of this area
and is delicious. Though it wasn't everyone's cup of tea. The name of the restaurant was Cabbage, though it sounded much better in Japanese. Yasu very kindly bought everyone a yummy dessert. Due to everyone being so tired, it was a very early night.

Hiroshima is a very beautiful city. It is very green and has lots of trees and parks. Looking at it now, you can't tell about its horrible past. The only clue to the past
is the fact that there are no old buildings. It's a lovely place to visit and I have to say is my favourite city in Japan.

Tuesday 2nd October

Phew, what a day. Am sitting in the foyer of the hostel, baking in the heat, at nearly midnight. We hit the ground running. Breakfast was at 8, we left
the hostel just after 8.30 to head off to the train station. It was a beautiful morning, forecasted to be 28 degrees. We stopped just down the street to
buy lunch. Thank goodness for Yasu. Without him, we wouldn't be able to negotiate the stations or buying the tickets.

Today we were heading to Nara. This is an old capital city and is a very special place to visit. Nara is famous for its deer. The deer are sacred to the
buddist religion and they are everywhere around Nara, including on the roads. Our first meeting of the deer wasn't far from the train station. Kids bought
the little crackers and fed the very eager deer. Next was the earthquake museum. This was a spontaneous stop and was good. There was a special chair
that the kids could sit in and it would simulate a richter 6 earthquake. most of the kids lined up for the chair. Plus being inside was a respite from the heat.

Todaji is centred in a huge park and is a very popular tourist destinations, both for foreigners and Japanese. In Todajii is the worlds largest wooden building
and inside that building is a 14m bronze Buddha. The building is now only a third of the size it used to be. It is an amazing sight to see. Inside the building is
a pillar with a hole at the bottom. The size of the hole is the size of the Buddha's nostril. If you can fit through this, then you are to be brought good luck. Most
of the kids made it through.

We stopped for our picnic lunch, just outside. Some of the boys have perfected the art of being gannets! A lot of food was being hoovered down.

After lunch
we wandered around to the temple of the 1000 lanterns. These are a variety of huge stone lanterns and bronze hanging lanterns, simply stunning. The kids
had some quiet reflection time. The walking continued. This time it was to a traditional part of Nara. The streets are very narrow and the houses extremely close
together. So close that each house has a firebucket on the door step. There was a chance to do a little bit of shopping further down but not much was bought.

It was about an hours train ride back to Osaka. It had been a long day and a few kids fell asleep on the train. On one of the trains, an elderly gentlemen felt sorry
for Matt S and handed him 1000 yen(worth about $16), Matt was very good and was very appreciative. Was a lovely gesture. We got back to the hostel at about
5.30, had some down time and then dinner at 6.30.

At 7.30 we were off were some shopping. It was a train ride away and our first experience of some crammed trains. Shopping was in Namba, a very, very busy
shopping precinct. The kids had a huge spend up. Many pairs of shoes are making their way back to NZ.

We got back to the hostel about 10.30, shower time then trying to pack backs for moving tomorrow. The amount of walking today has been debated. Yasu's phone
tell us we have walked over 15km. Some of us debate this, but the are many sore feet and very tired bodies. The aquarium tomorrow- this is my recommendation
after I visited last trip, so I am hoping the kids enjoy it. Hiroshima tomorrow afternoon.
Monday 1st October

Saying goodbye boo ho


Sunday afternoon/night, a typhoon hit parts of Japan. The only sign of it we had was some rain in the later afternoon/ evening and a little bit of wind.
Absolutely nothing for us to worry about. Last morning in Haramura. Lots of sad faces to be seen at the council offices, where we were waiting for the bus.
A couple of speeches were given, we did the haka and then the horrible part began- the goodbyes. There were lots of tears, even from the boys! Tears
indicate that everyone had a great time and that we don't want to leave. Below is a list of what people did in the weekend. The second list is the highlights
of everyone's time in Haramura.

Weekend
Finn- Fuji q, worlds tallest & fastest roller coaster
Ben- walked up part of Mt Fuji Jamie-swimming pool, hydro slides, beach at the pool with waves
Matt S- went to Matsumoto castle, went to a bread restaurant
Shani- Fuji q, best one was really fast, got really wet in the log flume
Matt J- sumo wrestling
Dylan- sushi train, Matsumoto castle
Georgia- went to hello kitty land Madi- dressed in a kimono, went to hello kitty land
Amelia- Fuji Q and sushi train. 2 hrs wait at Fuji Q, so didn't get to go on everything
Sarah- Fuji Q, okinaminyaki restaurant( Japanese pancake)
Macy- Fuji Q, made music boxes
Tonisha- shopping, donut shop
Shaye- tried on kimonos, went to McDonald, went to hello kitty land
Tayla- Matusmoto castle and frog street
Josh- Matsumoto castle, up a Mountain on a gondola, swimming pool,
Jacob- Matsumoto castle,rode in a rickshaw, communal baths, bowling
Pita- Matsumoto castle, bowling, sushi train, Suwa lake, footspa
Diana-outlet shopping,
Gary- Duncan- mini golf with family and friends
Jo- went to a festival, dressed in a kimono
Tracey- wasabi farm, Matusmoto castle at night for a orchestral performance
Vicki- went to host families for dinner,
Raewyn- hiking up a mountain, going to a festival at a local temple

Highlight of the week in Haramura.
Finn- going to park to play soccer
Ben- fireworks at takeru's house
Jamie- making new friends and going to school, meeting new people
Matt S- going up the gondola up the mountain.
Shani- Japanese BBQ, the whole family was there, played a lot, laughed a lot.
Matt J- playing football, sumo wrestling, sushi restaurant and arcade.
Dylan-playing soccer after school Georgia- wearing kimonos withShaye at McDonald's.
Madi-getting to know my family better
Amelia- school Sarah- school
Macy- meeting new people
Tonisha- nursery school
Shaye- staying with the family, doing stuff at home with the family. Nursery students
Tayla- doing the warm up dance with the nursery students
Josh- learning
Jacob-everything
Pita- home stay
Diana-going to Sarah's home stay for birthday dinner, going to Duncan's home stay for BBQ.
Gary- catching up with my Japanese family and all the culinary delights.
Duncan- hospitality and food
Jo- how the family embraced me
Tracey- homestay
Vicki- Matsumoto castle
Raewyn- everything- school and homestay, meeting old friends and making new friends.
Haramura is a beautiful part of the world, not only the natural beauty, but also the people. They have welcomed us into their village, their homes and their hearts. There can be no way to repay this, thank you is simply not enough. A special thank you to the people of Haramura. Most of the day was spent of the bus going from Haramura to Kyoto. Gary helped make the trip a little more exciting by handing out honey, soy and sake crickets. Believe me, they didn't look at all appetising. Most of the kids tried one,
Jamie had a couple. Supposedly they were honey flavoured with bit of a crunch. Not my cup of tea.
We had a couple of stops along the way for pit stops and to refuel. Finn and Jamie learnt the hard way not tot drink too much on the bus. Our stop for
lunch was a little different, as due to the rain, it was lunch on the bus. We got to Kyoto just after 1pm. Our first stop was Kiyomizu-dera. This is a 400 year
old temple on the side of the hill, giving great views of Kyoto. This temple is famous for its clear water. All the kids drank water from the special fountain,
the water is supposed to give good health. Most kids also walked the stones of love. They had to walk from one stone to the other with their eyes closed.
Doing this ensures good love in the future. Watch out folks, cause all the kids did it!
The Japanese economy got a boost on the way back to the bus. A lot of shopping was done. Jamie and Jacob bought their samurai swords. A couple of
mums are in for some very nice gifts too but that's secret squirrel stuff. Our other stop in Kyoto was to the golden pavillion. This is a fantastic building completely
covered in gold. Words cannot express how fantastic it is, so just check out the pictures. It was overcast in Kyoto but very muggy, 27 degrees. The heat has
now begun.
We had about an hours drive to Osaka. We are in the youth hostel, up on the 9th and 19th floor. We had dinner a the hostel, I think some kids simply inhaled it! It was communal baths night, all the kids seemed to cope very well, no tears that I know of. Very big day tomorrow, first really big walking day. Hopefully it won't be too hot!


Sunday 30th
I was taken to a small temple in Haramura, as they were having a festival there. Matt J also was taken there. his host mum managed to convince the men taking
part in the sumo wrestling so let Matt have a go. He wasnt brave enought to take his shorts off like the other men, but he gave it a very good go!

28th September last day of school 

Last day of school plus Sarah's birthday. Nothing much to report. Kids were in class until after lunch. Pita, Sarah, Matt S, Tonisha, Ben and Macy
became teachers. They got to teach one Japanese class how to play the ukulele. From what heard they did a great job.
Lunch was interesting, udon noodle stew, prawn filled spring roll and octopus salad.
After lunch some paper cranes were brought back to the room. Ben, Amelia, Jamie and Josh, had been given them by their class.
After lunch we had some time for some book work, then a quick performance practice. The last session of the day was the farewell. Once again,
we were clapped into the hall and seated across the front. The onlyspeech this time was Gary. The performance was a shortened version,
as we had already done some at the welcome. We did the dance, Toia mai and of course the haka. Matt J did and awesome job of leading it. I was in
the audience and could hear the oohs and aahhs.
After our performance, our kids went and got a Hara student and dragged them onstage, as well as all the hosts. A giant haka was then performed,
with Dylan leading. Our other two items were also repeated on request. Those on stage were performing (or trying to), along with some of the audience.
Was great to see. The last part of the farewell was the presentation of the ukeleles to the school. They are most appreciative of this gesture. The school
then presented us all a small gift- a bandana.
Back in the classrooms, bandanas were put on and everyone went off for the last cleaning session. I finally managed to locate Finn to get photographic
evidence that he can clean. The end of the school day was at 4.15. When I left at 5.15 there were still lots of our kids hanging around. Some were there
til 6 due to soccer practice, but some just were having fun hanging out with their friends.
At 9.30 last night there was a knock on my front door. I was surprised to find out it was for me. Standing at the door was Josh and Jamie. As soon as
Josh saw me, he chickened out and ran away but Jamie told me that they were visiting Ben and about to light some fireworks and they wanted to show me.
I was expecting big fireworks, but they were very quiet and sedate. This didn't worry the boys, they were having a ball.

There will be no photos or posts for a couple of days as its the weekend and everyone is off doing their own thing. Below is a list of what people are doing.
For those with Fuji Q on their list, this is scary place! A giant amusement park with some very fast and very big roller coasters. See you when we are in Osaka!
Plans for the weekend.
Pita- bowling
Macy, Shani, Sarah, Amelia- all going to Fuji Q
Shay, Madi, Tayla, Georgia- Matsumoto castle
Finn- ninja carnival
Matt S- Fuji Q and Matsumoto
Ben- mountain climbing, shopping
Jamie, Josh, Jacob- Matsumoto, swimming
Tonisha- mallet golf and shopping
Dylan- bowling and sushi
Matt J - not sure, maybe arcade
Gary- climbing up a mountain, going to Nagano
Diana and Vicki- shopping and to Duncan's for a BBQ
Tracey- wasabi plantation, visiting grandparents
Raewyn- gondola up a mountain


27th September photos

First, some highlights of last night for some people.
Madi- went to a sushi train, really cool. Tried octopus sushi, corn sushi and hamburger sushi.
Dylan- BBQ for Yuta's birthday, Duncan and Pita also there. Japanese BBQ better than NZ BBQ.
Macy- went o piano lesions and then McDonald's. It tastes different and they have different drinks.
Amelia-played badminton on Tuesday night. Her family asked what sport she liked, she said badminton, so they went out and bought
racquets so they could play.
Matt S- ate teriyaki eel, it was very nice, lit fireworks.
Matt J- went to the arcade and played heaps of games, went to a noodle restaurant for dinner.
Finn- went to a park after school to play soccer. Had sashimi for dinner.
Sarah- went to a sushi train in Suwa. It was cool but she wasn't brave enough to try new things
Duncan-BBQ awesome, great food. Plenty of beer and first attempt at sake.

On to today. Today we were being taken around some local sights. Before we started Ben was complaining of a swollen stomach,
diagnosis was made. He is eating too much and has put on weight!!! Our first port of call was the library. in 2002, the very first group planted
some trees. it is always a part of our trip to get a group photo with these trees. Josh and Sarah got to hug the trees.
next was a local museum. This is a very old house that has been kept in original condition, as well as having an exhibit about silk worms, as Haramura used to be famous for its silk worms. Our main purpose for going to the museum was to do some traditional Japanese weaving. All the kids got to have a go and 3 placemats
were created. Pita is desperate to have her group's one and was offering large amounts of money! Tayla was a brilliant teacher and helped
all of her group. I think she was even offererd a job.

Next port of call was a local ice cream factory, local being nearly 45 mins drive away. On the way there we did get some fantastic views
of Mt Fuji. At the factory we watched a short video about the ice cream making process. The factory is placed on top of a spring and uses
the mountain water to make its products. We had a very quick tour. Much of the ice cream making process is automated. Any workers we
saw were covered head to foot, including face masks. At the end of the tour it was all on. We had 15mins for all you can eat ice cream. The
kids went nuts! Josh was the first to get brain freeze, he was pushing them down, which was difficult considering how frozen and hard they were.
Out of the 26 people we had on the tour, 96 ice creams were consumed. I would say tasted but I don't think many of them were actually hitting
the taste buds. Of the 17 kids eating, they demolished 70 ice creams. Special mention needs to go to those who managed to eat 6 in the
15 mins- Pita, Dylan and Matt J. I was concerned about people being sick on the bus, no need to worry. But there were several sugar highs,
it was a loud and giggly ride back to Haramura.

Back in Haramura, we went to the Yatsugtake Cultural Park. It was a stunner of a day so we went and sat in the park to eat our packed lunches.
Duncan's lunch looked amazing. Gary had baby honey bee rice balls. This is a delicacy. Last night for dinner he had crickets!The kids were all
excited to see what had been packed in their bento boxes. Umbrellas got some use at lunchtime as they were used by the kids are shade. After
lunch it was play time. The park had a variety of sports equipment for people to use, as well a frisbee golf course. A couple of kids gave this a go.
The kids had a ball playing.

Once everyone was worn out, we went up to the museum part. Haramura is famous for its night sky due to no major cities close, so there
is a night sky show and some space memorabilia, including a space ship that has actually gone into space. We didn't go to the show but the kids
did explore the space ship. Jamie took the opportunity to pay 100 yen so as to try on a space suit. There is also an exhibit of some the bugs in the
local area. Among the exhibits are some live bugs- huge
stag beetles and elephant beetles. These are alive and able to be touched. Some were very brave and faced their fears, these beetles are huge
and very scary looking.

Next was the 'crazy cars'. These are a variety of pedal cars that get driven around a small track. The kids ( and certain adults) loved it. There were
crashes, races, screaming and general fun. The adults were knackered but the kids didn't want to leave. We were dropped back at school and everyone
went their separate ways.

Tomorrow is our last day of school and some of our kids are feeling very sad about this. The may be a few tears at goodbye time.

Job time: the position of English language assistant at Haramura Junior High School is up for grabs. Qualifications for the job are, you need a degree.
No teaching qualifications required, no Japanese required. Needs to be able to start in March/April.Would prefer a Franklin resident as this helps strengthen
the bond between Pukekohe and Haramura. If you would like more info, please contact Gary. So if you know of someone who might be interested, let them
know or let Gary know. Haramura is a beautiful town and the people are very friendly. A huge opportunity for someone wanting to learn more about this
fantastic place.


26th September-elementary school

Off to the elementary school! The school is a 5 minute walk from the junior high. It was a lovely morning, so great to get some nice fresh
mountain air. We were welcomed into the gym and all seated on the stage. Once again we had to introduce ourselves. The elementary
school has about 400 students ageing from 5-12. After speeches it was performance time. The whole audience clapped along during two
of the ukulele items. During the dance some of the little kids were following the moves and dancing along too, which was great to see. Although
I was worried that Pita and Shaye were going to have to stop dancing as they were giggling so much at the new dancers. The haka went down
very well. The elementary students performed a beautiful song for us.

For the day, we were spending each period with a different year level. The first group was the Yr 1 and 2's. They did a very cute dance routine
for us, all of them colour coded by different bandanas and wrist bands. They were very cute. They requested that we teach them the haka.
Each Puke student had a group. The boys taught the boys, the girls taught the girls. The groups then came together in to slightly larger groups.
Finally, the Pukekohe students were on the stage and everyone did it together. Some of the Haramura boys had great pukanas!

The next groupwas the Yr 5s. We were broken into pairs and then put into the 3 classrooms to be taught calligraphy. Japanese students start
learning calligraphy fairly early on, each student has their own calligraphy equipment. Some of our kids caught on very quickly, others found it
rather tricky. Each student was presented with a piece of their work on a piece of cardboard for them to take home.

The yr 3s performed a recorder item for us and a skip rope routine. Everyone was broken into small groups and they taught us some origami.
Jacob was very proud of his hat that he made. The year 4s performed a couple of traditional dances for us then taught us some traditional
Japanese games. They were definitely harder than they looked.
At lunchtime, each class had 2 people as guests. Tayla and I were in grade
two class. It was so cute. Each class had an interpreter. Through the interpreter they asked us lots of questions- how old are we, where do we live,
how long was the flight, what airline did we fly with. The questions were endless. When we finished eating, we were mobbed. One child asked for our
autograph, suddenly the rest of the class wanted them too. One boy didn't have any paper so got Tayla to sign his hand. Tayla was then dragged
around to play games. It sounds like everyone had a great time in the classroom. Lunch was a hamburger- a meat pattie. This was made extra special
by having a boiled quails egg on top.

The last session was the yr 6s. They put on an amazing gymnastic routine. Lots of oohs and aahhs were heard from us. It ended in a giant human
pyramid. Shani wasn't so keen for us to do this back in NZ as she is sure she would be the one ending up with a broken arm. We played a game
involving lots of rock, paper, scissors. There was a small question answer session in small groups. Georgia was interview by a local newspaper
reporter so we are waiting to see her name in the paper.

Everyone had a great day, lots of excitement and many new friends made. Personally,
I always find the nursery day and the elementary school day, highlights of the trip. I am staying directly opposite from Ben. When I got home tonight,
his host mum was outside and explained that Jamie and Josh (along with their hosts)had come to visit. The noise coming from the house was
horrendous, so I snuck in to find Jamie on a set of drums and Josh on the guitar. They were locked in a room by themselves. Earplugs might be a
good investment if they were to visit again :-). Main thing is, they were having fun. Tomorrow is our day out, I am sure we will all enjoy the ice cream
factory we are visiting! Fingers crossed for fine weather.


25th september nursery school. Sorry, lots of photos today, too many cute ones to choose from. Have tried loading a video of the haka but not sue if it will work


What a day! Today was nursery school day. Some of the kids weren't too sure about it but everyone came away having a ball. In fact no one wanted
to leave! We started with a tour of the older kids. We were met with a horde of screaming 4 and 5 year olds. All the kids were so cute, we got lots of
waves and high fives. We were then taken into the junior part, the 1 and 2 year olds. I did my best to kidnap a baby but the staff were onto me. The kids
were gorgeous, a couple of our students even got a few cuddles.
We were then taken out to the playground. All the nursery students were lined up in classes. Each year group has a different colour hat. The nursery
school has 220 students ranging from 10months old to 5yrs old. It's the only nursery school/ day care in Haramura. We had to stand in front and say our
names. We also sang the national anthem, the Japanese song and on special request Matt J led the haka.

We then joined the little kids in their morning warm up. We were invitedto play a game with the students. We were put into three groups and each group
joined a class. The game involved a very short net and having to get as many hackysacks into the net. Due to our height, we had to be on our knees. Some
of our kids may have been slightly competitive and one blonde teacher may have been cheating.

After the game, the nursery students put on a performance- everyone of us was blown away, they were amazing. We then got some playtime. Some kids
had their hand grabbed and were rushed off to the giant sand pit. Tayla and Jamie had several running races. Ben was playing in the playhouse, Tonisha
was hanging out on the monkey bars. There is lots of photos showing all the action. The 5 yr olds followed us all the way to the gate and bid us a very fond
farewell.

We got back to school in time for a Japan book session, gluing in lots of bits and pieces ready for the next part of our trip. Lunch was great, beautiful deep
fried hoki, salad and of course rice. For the afternoon the kids were off in buddy classes. Clean up was on again at 3.30. Some thought they could avoid it,
but alas they didn't. The parents and Jo didn't go the the nursery school. They took the opportunity to do a little sightseeing in Matsumoto. This is about
45 minutes away by train. Matsumoto has an amazing castle, not the English type castle but the amazing Japanese type. Sounds like they had an awesome
day, they came back looking pretty weary. Wednesday is elementary school day. It's usually a fantastic day, I am looking forward to it so hope the kids are.

24/9/12- first day of school. Some of today's photos are a bit blurry due to distance and me shaking, apologies.

Monday morning- a gorgeous sunny morning. Ben and I (we are neighbours) managed to get a great view of Mt Fuji as we
left home. All the kids were at school in our room, comparing their home stays and their evenings. There was lots of noise
and lots of excitement. Here's the kids thoughts on their first night at their home stay. Food seems to the common theme!
Sarah ate octopus, not her favourite meal- it was weird.
Pita played Just Dance, and beat everyone.
Matt S- had a very nice dinner and played piano. Itsuki's sister is very good at the piano.
Jamie- host family all really nice and he's having lots of fun
Georgia- house really small, watched sumo, was really strange.
Amelia- went to the arcade, went to the photo booths, found an ice cream machine.
Josh- house is pretty flash, went out last night. Dad's car is very cool. Went to a sushi train.
Pita- family really nice, house is amazing
Jacob-had a lovely dinner, it was very different to home.
Finn-KFC for dinner, tastes better than NZ.
Dylan- family is nice, had a good time.
Madi- lovely house, really like school.
Matt J- had tempura, very yummy
Macy- yummy food, Korean style BBQ.
Ben- Daisuke's mum makes very good food.
Shani- went out for ramen noodles, very uncomfortable sitting on the ground.
Shaye- played board games and card games, family really nice.
Tonisha- cooked at the table, very strange
Tayla- had a Japanese BBQ ( very different to the nz version)
Duncan - host family very nice and friendly, they speak very good English.
Tracey- pasta for dinner. Lovely family
Jo- traditional sashimi dinner, accompied with beer, wine and sake
Diana- huge 7 course dinner, house up in the forest, beautiful gardens.
Vickie- spoilt with a 7 course meal Gary-
Koike house as great as ever.
Raewyn- lovely to be back with my host family from 2006.

There was a photo in the local paper of Shaye meeting her host family- we are world famous! Our first event at school
was the welcome ceremony in the school gym. The whole school was standing and we were clapped in and stood at
the front. More speeches were made by the kids, they will be experts by the time we leave. The performance was a
short version, just the national anthem, Japanese song and the ukulele items. They did an awesome job again.

Duncan, Vickie, Diana and I explored the local supermarket. We were there to get water for the kids, as it is rather
hot today. The supermarket is an outing in itself. Check out the photo of Duncan pushing the trolley around!

The kids come back to the base room at every break, it is full of noise and lots of excitement. Some of the kids have
done some baking in science, calligraphy and helping in the English classes. This afternoon was school cleaning time.
I have photographic proof of your lovely students being able to clean- they have no excuses now.

One young lady was asked this afternoon, how her day was going. Her reply was 'Not good." It turned out she had used
the Japanese toilet and her slipper came off her foot and fell in the toilet!

Out at sport this afternoon, an exciting discovery was made. The kids found a snake skin. They were all excited about it,
the Japanese kids weren't so sure about it. They gave poor Miss Gibson a fright, when they came back into class and
casually wrapped it around her neck. Heart attack material. But watch out kids, cause she will get you back!


Day one and two
The plane flight was long but everyone coped well. Not too many kids got sleep, the games and movies were more popular.
after landing at Narita airport, we had a taxi of nearly half an hour. Once we were off the plane, it was a huge walk to customs,
thank goodness for travelators.
coming out of the airport was bit of a shock. It was 5.30pm and still 27 degrees.
The buffet dinner (and breakfast) proved very popular. One every trip we have a foodie, this trip it would appear to be Jacob.
He was eating everything in sight and loving it! His family may want to invest in some bigger clothes. It was an early start on
Sunday. We were on the road by 7.30. To get to the right highway we had to go all the way into central Tokyo. We got
glimpses of Disneyland and all the amazing buildings Tokyo has to offer. The rain did put a dampener on things, but it did
cause and accident between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini, so the boys were quite excited to see this. We didn't get to see
Mt Fuji, but we did spot a troop of wild monkeys on the roadside.
We arrived in Haramura at 12pm and went straight to the welcome ceremony. Everyone did their speech and they all did a
fantastic job considering how nervous they were.
Host families were introduced and then it was lunch. After lunch the host performed a couple of items and then it was our turn.
It was requested that we sing the Maori version of the national anthem twice. The second time was without music. As soon as
the kids started singing, a large group of the audience stood and started singing it with us! It was a very special moment and
nearly made a certain teacher cry. The kids performance was fantastic, all their hard work paid off. The audience was clapping
along and this made the kids try even harder.
There were a couple of party games, hence some strange group
photos in today's photos. As their birthdays are while we are on the trip, Finn and Sarah, had a special presentation and
everyone sang happy birthday to them. Shani did a great job of presenting the mayor with a gift and was thrown in the deep
end by having a microphone shoved at her. At the end of the afternoon, everyone went off very happily with their host families.
There was some nervousness,as to what they would find, but everyone was looking forward to it.
You may notice in the email from Gary, that toilets are mentioned a lot. The western toilets are a marvel of modern
technology. The Japanese style toilets can be just plain scary. Several of the girls bit the bullet today and used the Japanese
toilets even when they had a choice
of western style. Good on you girls. They all decided it wasn't too bad after all.