In June, seven upper school students visited Japan along with US Japanese teacher Masako Onakado and nurse Clare Elchert to experience the country’s rich culture first-hand.
Students on the trip were Tiffany Chang, Ashley Hejtmanek, Katie Liang, Victoria Liang and David Wu, all rising juniors, and rising seniors Jonathan Lau and Kelly Chen.
The group’s first stop was the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima on June 8, where they visited the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Peace Memorial Museum. Before leaving Hiroshima, the group met a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing who volunteered at the park as a storyteller, and who shared his experience in Hiroshima and his opinions on the bombing.
That evening, everyone went to Miyajima Island and had fun playing with fireworks before retiring for the night in a traditional-style inn. The next morning, the group visited Itsukushima shrine.
After leaving Miyajima Island the next day, the group headed to Kyoto via bullet train and stayed the night in a temple. The following day was highlighted by a walk through Kyoto’s Arashiyama district and more temple visits.
Not ones to linger for very long, the students and chaperones boarded another bullet train for Yokohama on June 11. This year marked the 150th anniversary of the city opening its port to Western countries, and to commemorate the milestone a celebration known as the Y150 Expo was taking place. There, they saw a performance by a giant robotic spider and checked out several interactive exhibits.
The next day the group checked in with Harker’s sister school, Tamagawa Academy. The students got to meet with their buddies for the first time. “We took a tour of the campus and were amazed by the facilities and wide range of classes offered at Tamagawa,” Onakado said. “Students also enjoyed eating the lunch made by their buddies’ moms in the buddies’ homeroom.” Following the tour, the Harker students went home with their buddies to stay with their host families for the weekend.
Harker’s students returned to school with their buddies the following Monday and took part in a Japanese class and learned how to make some Japanese snacks. Later, the group met with school president Yoshiaki Obara.
The group’s final day was spent sightseeing in Tokyo, visiting the famous Sensoji Temple and the Akihabara district, famous for its multitude of electronics stores. As a final surprise, Onakado took the students to a karaoke parlor for some last-minute fun before heading back home.