Being a Saturday students had the opportunity for a sleep in as we weren’t expected until 10.00am at Seishu HS. The day was the wettest we had seen and students arrived in plastic ponchos and under umbrellas.
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The day was divided into two distinct parts. The first part was preparation and participation in a Saturday class lead by select Grade 3 Universal English students, involving prospective students from various schools, and MacKillop students. To start with we produced posters for the event which was going to keep an account of our introductions, followed by what the students believed is ‘cool’ in Australia, what is ‘cool’ in Japan and finally imagining what we could create if we could mix two of these e.g. Matcha (green tea) Tim Tams. The MC of this session was Matsui Sensei and he carefully crafted the event easing the nerves of the anxious prospective students.
We broke for lunch and students retired to the International Room to enjoy their bentos with their hosts. Interestingly the gap between starting a school day and lunch hasn’t been easy for MacKillop students who are so used to having a recess. We have tried to do as we were told – eating food outside of lunch and the end of the day is seen to be forbidden!
A bus took us to the second distinct part of the day – sightseeing. We first visited Hokkaido Jingu – a Shinto shrine. Majestically displayed, surrounded by a small forest of pines, it felt sacred and if seen in spring amongst Cherry Blossoms even more so. After washing our hands we were lucky to view a wedding including the brides Shiromuku (costume) and a baby’s blessing (Omiya Mairi Blessing). After making wishes for the future we had the chance to purchase lucky charms (Omarmori) and fortune telling scrolls (Omikuji) which generated a healthy discussion.
A highlight for the day was visiting the Okurayama Sapporo Ski Jump Stadium (Okurayama-Schanze) on the eastern slope of Mt Okura. This venue holds international ski events and can house 50,000 people. What an imposing sight! Imagine skiing as fast as you can downhill for 100m and then jumping only to land another 100m plus (the record being 143.5m in January this year) further down the slope. We think this could only be for the skilled ski jumping, adrenalin junkies with nerves of steel. It appeared rather daunting!
From this sight there were beautiful panoramic views of Sapporo City and unfortunately, the weather didn’t allow us to use the ski lift to ride to the top of the jump. So we visited the Winter Sports Museum at the base of the jump. This museum reveals both the history and the excitement of such a specialist event and is interactive allowing our students to experience simulated winter sports. All of this culminated in ice-creams on the way out.
We took the school bus back to Seishu HS and waved goodbye to our students at 4.30pm dismissal for them to train into town for some shopping and a day with heir host families. Looking forward to their stories!