Riccarton High SchoolRiccarton High School

RHS goes to Japan!

Star Wong (year 13) and Simon Lim (year 12) share their highlights from their trip to Japan.

There wasn’t a day that was not filled with adventures during this two-and-a-half-week trip. There were new places to be and delicious food to eat every day. If we weren’t on the peaks of Fushimi Inari shrine, then we were at the peaceful ends of Arashiyama forest. Every day was a new journey for Riccarton High School students! 

Day 1 – 2am was the average time students rose from their beds feeling groggy and tired. We did not know what to expect and pondered to ourselves if we should be excited or worried. We all collectively agreed that 3am was the time we would arrive at the airport. Once everyone was comfortably seated in the plane, you could almost hear “Ah, finally, sleep”.

When arriving in Japan, there were a lot of  “Ah” and “Oos” despite only arriving at the airport. Finally, we were there and the excitement was obvious. 

Disneyland, yep, that’s right, it was only day two,  and we jumped into 12 hours at the land of happiness. Indeed, everyone was happy with their Mickey Mouse ears and flavoured popcorn.

Days three and four were spent in the traditional city of Kyoto. We visited famous gardens, shrines and temples including  Kiyomizu-dera. Osaka was next; we stuffed our faces with every type of food and experienced their unique advertisements; they popped out to you literally and metaphorically.

On day six and seven, we traveled to the peaceful cities of Kurashiki (Christchurch’s sister city) and Hiroshima. In Kurashiki everyone experienced a Japanese curry lunch thanks to the manaakitanga of the Kurashiki City Council; some even experienced wearing Kimonos while walking around the beautiful historical quarters. Hiroshima was quite shocking. Most of us understood the horrors that took place there; however, we did not realize the extent of the devastation. It opened up a new world and horizon for everyone. Then, finally, it was time for us to go to Takefu Higashi High School.

We were looking forward to experiencing a different culture and meeting our homestay family that we would be with for a week. After the formal yet friendly welcome introduction from the whole school, we met our homestay, and spent the first night together with them and their family.

On our first full day at school we joined the third-year students (yr 13s) on a 15km walk through the city to a local park where we ate our lunch, played tag, and catchball with Takefu students, and were able to create great memories together. Proper classes started the next day which included English, PE, Geography, World History, and Mathematics. We were able to work together with Takefu students during those classes, so it was super exciting and interesting.

After visiting downtown Fukui in the afternoon, we went back to school to experience a Japanese-style flower arrangement class. The teacher kindly explained to us step by step, and much to the surprise of many of us, it was interesting to try out something new – the boys ended up taking out the best arrangement! 

On Thursday, one of our classes was calligraphy.  It was cool to know that our work would be hung up on the wall at school for a month. After lunch, we went on a field trip to Takefu Knife Village and Echizen paper village. We got to see the knives getting made in the workshop by famous knife masters, and we also had fun making traditional Japanese-style paper with our custom decoration on it. Later that day, we tried out a traditional tea ceremony in a Japanese-style room at school.  

On our last school day we had classes in the morning before heading to Fukui Dinosaur Museum. It is the third biggest dinosaur museum in the world. It had dinosaur robots with motion sensors and a gigantic T-Rex fossil, as well as lots of geological information. That evening we had the farewell party. We had food, received our certificates, played games together, and were able to spend time all together for the last time.

It was really sad to think that this was the last moment that we would be at Takefu Higashi. After the farewell party, most of the Riccarton students went bowling together with our homestays. On Saturday, we had a free day where we got to spend some time with our host family. When it was time to leave for Tokyo both Riccarton and Takefu students were sad to say goodbye to each other, and most of us got pretty emotional. 

We are so thankful to the homestay families for treating all the Riccarton students with kindness and friendliness and also for treating us like an actual member of their family. They provided us with food, accommodation, transportation, and all the memories that we were able to create together. I believe that there will be another opportunity to meet the students and the homestay families whether it is in Japan or New Zealand and am glad that we were able to experience real Japanese culture that we wouldn’t be able to experience anywhere else. 

It was time to head back to Tokyo for our last few days to experience the hustle and bustle of the busy metropolitan and get some all-important shopping done!  Japan has so much character and history everywhere, no matter where, there was always something to learn. We gained confidence in our language speaking and learnt more about the culture of Japan and the Japanese high school system, but also learnt about budgeting, travelling in a large group, being responsible and of course, friendship. 

A big thanks to Asia New Zealand Foundation for the grant that helped our trip in many ways. Thank you to the Riccarton High School Board of Trustees for allowing this amazing trip to go forward. Thank you to our whānau for your support, to Mrs Biddington and Ms Schnell for accompanying us, and last but not least to Ito Sensei for the countless hours of work he put in to make it an unforgettable experience. 

Star Wong, Yr 13

Simon Lim, Yr 12