Monday, June 30, 2008

Feeling Human Again!

Stealing a line from Beauty and the Beast, I finally feel human again! It was really tough getting over the jet lag this direction. I'm glad it wasn't this bad for the trip. My flight home was a bit uneventful. We were in economy plus which gave us more leg room. That made the flight so much better than the flight to Japan! When I got to Chicago it was time to say goodbye to everyone. We were heading to different gates and different terminals. Most of us just had enough time to go through customs and get to our gate before the next flight started loading. My flight was delayed of course. Then they started to call for people to give up their seats because the flight was oversold. I have always wanted this to happen so I could get a free flight somewhere. At first I thought, no, because I just wanted to get home and the bus would take longer. The lure of a free flight was too much though. The funny thing is that the plane was so late that the people on the plane and the people on the bus got to the baggage claim at the same time. Then, many of our bags weren't there. Somehow, even though the flight was late, our bags didn't make it! My bag with souvenirs made it, but my clothes were still in Chicago.The bag was delivered by 8:40 the next morning. It was all good. Now I'm trying to clear up the debris in my house that I left as I prepared for the trip. I'm getting laundry done, and then I'll tackle the lawn. I even planted flowers yesterday. I guess I'd better think about the triathlon I'm supposed to do the running/walking leg for. Hmmmm. That's it for now. I figured I should at least let you know that I'm home safe and sound.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fish Market

We were up early today 5:15 which probably wasn't really early enough, but we wanted to go to the famous Tsukiji fish market. We were told that the people working there don't really appreciate the tourists, because they get in the way and cause confusion. There are no flash pictures, and if you value your life, you won't get too close to the people cutting fish and you'll watch for the motorized carts. They won't stop for you! I'm hoping I got some good pictures. I didn't use a flash and they were all moving very fast, so things could be blurry!

We had yet another huge breakfast brunch, but this time I loaded up. We have to check out by 12, and I don't leave until 2:30 for the airport. I really don't want to go out. Some people are rushing out to buy last minute things. You know how I feel about shopping. Just so you know, if I don't have something for you, I was thinking of you. Heh, I just sent my last postcards yesterday!
I really should get out and walk though. I will be sitting on the plane for 12 hours! The lucky people going to D.C. have a 14 hour flight! Yikes! Someone said that for $100 you can upgrade to economy plus. I may think about it. The cramped 9 hour flight was tough enough. I'm hoping I'll sleep since I got up early. Well, I think that's it for me from Tokyo. I'll either update this blog with more information and pictures when I get home, or I'll link it to a web site. Thanks for tuning in. I've enjoyed the emails and comments!

Last Official Day - June 25

The day started with the presentations from all of the groups. They were all very interesting and entertaining. The Superintedent of the Inagi City Schools and two school board members attended the session. It was so nice to see them. The group from Ichinoseki had some pretty sobering pictures from the earthquake that happened over a week ago. They were very thankful to the people, because despite the natural disaster, the group was still warmly welcomed. They said an earthquake of that magnitude happens about once a century. After that, what else? We had a gigantic buffet. I'm glad only our bags are weighed on the way home! Then we had wrap up and registered for our class through Seattle Pacific University. Not everyone is taking the class, but it's basically just completing what we've already agreed to do. We had a break before the final farewell buffet, so a group of us hopped the train to the Meiji Shrine and the beautiful iris gardens.

Apparently the emperor would often walked these grounds because they are so beautiful. It took us awhile to find where we were going, so we had a whopping 20 minutes to walk the garden. That was too bad, because there were trails beyond the garden. Once again the Shrine is now located in the midst of a very busy business district, but when you are on the grounds you would never know it. It is so quiet! Of course you rarely hear cars honking horns or sirens anyway. We made it back to the hotel with about 45 minutes to freshen up before the Sayonara Buffet. Oka-san was able to attend the buffet after attending the session in the morning, so it was nice to spend one last night with her.
I ate sushi until my eyes popped out! Then we were treated to an Aikido demonstration.
Finally we sang "Auld Lang Syne". The Japanese speaking guides and guests sang it in Japanese. I think I wrote earlier that this is a popular song in Japan to sing at graduation. It is so popular that many Japanese students think it is Japanese folk song.
Then we sang in English. I think that's when it hit many of us that this is it. It's over. Our journey began 17 days ago and the time has just flown by. Our experiences have been very different but the feeling about Japan and its people is the same. This is a country of gracious, sincere, and friendly people, and the similarities between our countries far outweigh our differences. My unending gratitude goes out to the government of Japan and the JFMF organization for this opportunity of a life time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Art Education and the Tokyo Tower

Today we heard from Chihiro Tada. He operates a toy museum in Shinjuku ward. His father originally opened the museum encouraging children to explore the joys of low tech toys. He is concerned about the inability of children to be creative and communicate with one another, and he believes that turning off the television or computer games and playing with simple toys that use the imagination will help improve those two things. He showed us a toy that children used to be able to make on their own out of leaves. Today the only way they could make this toy is bringing in an older person to teach it to them in a workshop. The toy is called a snake. It works like Chinese handcuffs. You put a finger in the mouth and if you pull away it won't let you go. We made two simple toys that he said had been in existence for 350 years. Basically, he said someone had thought these up, and children used to make them all the time. He also said that when he was a student he never went anywhere without a spinning top.He would meet friends and play. The toys in the museum include toys made from wood by crafts people in Japan. He gives workshops to teachers and students and people come to the museum to work with the children. They make things with their hands, and their excitement about what they are doing causes them to communicate that excitement with the people around them. It was a very interesting talk, and I will definitely be using the items we made in class.
Our Inagi group met during the lunch break to discuss our presentation. We go first, so we want it to be decent. Cari has been doing the lion's share of the work pulling together the pictures in Windows Movie Maker. We'll have an opening and closing statement, so we hope it will be sufficient.
Then a former Fulbright Scholar who studied in Madison, WI took our questions about Japanese Education and Society. Clearly, the national curriculum is a point of contention among some teachers and society members. They feel it focuses too much on the basics and not enough on creativity. We seem to have the exact opposite in the states. Maybe we need to get together and develop a more balanced approach.
After the sessions a group of us took off on the Metro to see the Tokyo Tower. It looks just like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It even gets lit up at night. We even got a faint view of Mt. Fuji! It was very hazy, but I can at least say I saw it! Looking down on this city is an incredible sight. It is just solid buildings, and then you'll see a shrine, and then maybe a bit of green.
Alright, I had to do the fake fall off of the tower.
Then of course we had to eat, so we wandered down the street a bit to what we thought was a noodle shop. Well, we walked in the wrong door and ended up in a Korean restaurant. I have to admit that I wasn't to courageous. Everything sounded spicy and that is not my thing. I got potato pancakes and they came drizzled in cheese sauce with spice. It was actually very good. Everyone loved what they ordered, so it was a happy mistake. We headed back, and I was suddenly tired. So, I'm blogging, finishing the last of my postcards, and making sure everything is ready to go for Thursday. We give our presentations tomorrow and then there is a farewell dinner. Most of the people we hung with tonight were Inagi. We really had a good time together. It will be weird not to see them anymore.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ryokan in Hakone National Park

Like I said it just gets better and better. We had to say goodbye to our families on Sunday afternoon. We were dropped off at 4:00 and we heard from the Superintendent of the Inagi Schools, Sachie Matsuozawa. She was instrumental in arranging the school visits, home visits, and all of the wonderful things we did during our Inagi stay. We truly can't thank her enough!It was sad, but we were all flying high from the wonderful experiences we had. Everyone did different things, stayed with different family make ups, and in different types of homes. The one thing we had in common was that we agreed it was an incredible time! The superintendent knew we were headed to Hakone, and reminded us to noticed the beautiful hydrangea which are the most beautiful during the rainy season. We then started our trip to Hakone National Park and the ryokan where we would be spending the night. The joke in our group is that Oka-san always says the trip will take about 30 minutes no matter where we are headed. This time she said, "It will not take 30 minutes." It took about 2 hours. The only downside was that the rain finally caught up with us, so seeing Mt. Fuji was not going to happen. Ah well, I have two fantastic photos of it from someone who did see it! While on the bus Oka-san explained that the rooms are all tatami mats, and we should not wear slippers on the tatami. We were to put on our yakata (summer kimono) and meet for dinner at 7. The rooms were gorgeous! Cari, Cindy, and I shared the room. The guys REALLY loved the yukata. I wasn't sure they were going to wear their regular clothes home. Here is Oka-san with the coat that you could wear if you were cold. I was too warm, and all the eating I do makes me sweat. I'm very glad I haven't seen a scale in a while. We had low tables set with a ton of Japanese food. I figured that was the meal. No! The food just kept coming. We had shabu shabu, which was boiling water where we cooked our own meat and vegetable. They also lit a fire under the rice, and when our fire went out, the rice was ready to eat. I can't tell you what everything was, and quite frankly, I probably don't want to know what everything was. But, it was delicious. I was hoping someone would come along and massage my stomach so I could just continue eating.
We had plum wine, cold sake, warm sake, and many different kinds of soft drinks. We also had the use of a karaoke machine for two hours. So of course, we sang our hearts out.
We kept trying to get Oka-san on the stage, but she wasn't very cooperative. However, she did treat us to a song at the end of our time. Then it was time for the hot springs bath. Yes, this is the traditional communal bath with girls on one side and boys on a different side. Totally different rooms actually. First you have to completely wash yourself in a big open room - locker room style. Once you are completely cleaned and rinsed you enter the hot springs bath. The water is naturally heated in the earth and is often about 42 degrees Celsius. You enter sans clothing. It sounds a bit intimidating, but actually you just get in and forget that everyone is bare! No pictures for this part of the tour! You can only stay in for a short while at a time. Oka-san said someone stayed in too long the last time and fainted. When I started feeling a bit light headed it was time to go. I did some email and hit the sack. Oh, I forgot to mention that while we were eating, the hotel fairies came in and laid out our beds. I was pretty tired after the dinner and the soak, so it was time for bed. I slept very well. There was a waterfall and a rushing river outside our room, so we left the window open to hear it. The futons were so comfy that I chose to sleep in instead of going back to the hot springs bath. Instead, I chose to soak in the tub in our room. Notice there is a separate shower to wash BEFORE you enter the tub. The tub is just for soaking. Japanese families share the soaking water. The tub will often have a heating element in it to keep the water hot. We met at 8 for our last meal on the road.
Today we returned to Tokyo. Things are winding down, and it's sad to think that in a couple of days we won't see the people that have become our family in Japan.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Home stay Inagi City June 21, 22

Wow! I didn’t think it could get any better, but I was wrong! The last two days have been absolutely incredible! First, we checked out of our hotel on Saturday to meet with our host families. We filed in to the second floor of the community center, and all of the families were there clapping for us as we came in. We have been so warmly welcomed everywhere we go. It’s going to be difficult going back to our modest lives after being treated like celebrities for two and a half weeks! While we were sitting there waiting for all of the JFMF teachers to file in, Amy commented that it was like waiting to get adopted. Who was going to take us home? I was actually sitting right across from my family and didn’t know it. Takahashi-san and his wife Mari stood when my name was called and ran right over to give me a welcome card they had made. It was so beautiful and thoughtful. My nervousness faded away quickly, because they were so enthusiastic about my visiting. In the picture you see Yushino, their daughter who is in university for music performance, Mari the mother who recently completed her study for special education, and Takahashi-san. He owns a music store which occupies the lower floor of the house. They live upstairs. He plays the trumpet and guitar, and Mari plays many different instruments including the harp, piano, and the Japanese flute. After dropping off my things and unpacking we went on a whirlwind tour of the area. I felt badly because they asked me about lunch. I said I wasn’t really hungry, which I wasn’t, but THEY hadn’t eaten. By the time we ate much later on, they were very hungry. We started by going to the twin towers in Shinjuku. That is a very busy business district. The view was great, though it was overcast. I couldn’t see Mount Fuji, but what I could see was great. There was also a children’s art show promoting healthy teeth. The pictures were incredible. Then we toured Tokyo a bit, and we ended up at a television station. We saw some of the animated characters, watched a live talk show, viewed a few people pretending to be newscasters, and they really wanted me to do it. So, I stood up and two children and another adult stood. We had to play paper, scissors, rock to see who would do the newscast. The other adult won both times. My family was disappointed, but it was fun to watch the others do the newscast. Then we went to a shrine and a museum. I’m sorry I’m so vague, but I’d have to go through all of my notes and pictures to get the correct names. I plan on coming back to all of the posts when I have more specifics. Then, Sunday morning we had breakfast and headed over to Mari’s parent’s house. Their home is very traditional with tatami mats. It’s funny though, you see the tatami and sliding doors and a fax machine. It is a real mix of the past and present. Mari’s father is an award winning photographer, so he showed me some of his gorgeous photos as we had tea and little plum gelatin cakes. Everything was fantastic! These are Mari's parents. I need to email them to get names again. I'm not great with names to begin with, and then we've met so many people. I know I should write these things down, but I think of it after the facts. Heh, I like to live in the moment. He generously gave me three large photos.Two of the photos were different shots of Mt. Fuji (which is good because I don’t think I will get a view of it with the rain), and one of the Golden Palace in Kyoto. They are amazing. Then we went to another beautiful shrine and lunch. The time flew by! They spoke limited English and I spoke NO Japanese, but they had an electronic translator and I had my dictionary. I hadn’t used the dictionary at all up until then, but it got a work out at my home stay. I also used phrases from the book Jill sent (thanks Jill). It has the pronunciation as well, and they said my Japanese was very good. These are pictures of a couple of the things I was given. They were incredibly generous. They even sent a gift for my mom!
It was very difficult to say goodbye at the end of the stay. We had such a good time, they were so incredibly kind, and I really enjoyed the time we had together. I will definitely be in touch with them! Well, I’ll write later about the ryokan (which is fabulous). I’m typing in the lobby now, but I want to post this, and we leave in about 30 min.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Inagi Daigo Jr. High School

Tomorrow we head to our host family. My family is a self employed dad, mom, and two daughters in their twenties. I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm a little nervous too. I think everyone feels the same way! Then, on Sunday night we stay at the ryokan. I'll try to add the link so you can see it. We should be able to see Mount Fuji, but it has been really overcast. It hasn't rained, but it really wants to.

So, today we went to the middle school. It was really great. We were greeted by Vice Principal Fukuda, because the principal was out in the morning on business. He was a very gracious host, answered questions, made sure we had water, tea, coffee, etc. Then he answered a few questions for us during first period. We were confused because students were in class when we arrived, but looking at the schedule school hadn't started yet. We discovered that the students have 20 minutes of silent reading BEFORE school begins. They do that so everyone starts the day relaxed. Then there is a ten minute break. There are only 5 periods in the day and there is a 10 minute break between each period. Again, I packed my information before blogging, so I don't have the exact details. This school has about 32-40 students in each class. The desks were tightly packed and went from the door to the windows. There was a lot of fooling around, but the teachers don't seem to mind. They just keep teaching. I observed a couple of English classes, math (very interesting), science, gym and music.
Then we had lunch in the classroom. All of the students were assigned to first year classrooms (7th grade) Cari and I were in the same class and the students were eager to talk. Their Engish is very limited, but they make up for it in enthusiasm. Two girls were talking my arm off, and whenever they stopped the girl across from me asked questions in very good English. She was having trouble getting in a word edgewise.
I would love to post their picture, but we're not really supposed to post clear pictures of faces. After lunch we wandered around some more. One of the classes we observed was 8th and 9th grade study class. Today they were discussing career possibilities. They didn't look very interested, and I think kids here would be the same. We finished with a question and answer session with the principal, vice principal and three teachers. It seems that we always learn something new, so I think they are pretty interesting sessions. They gave us a lovely gift before we left. Sadly, this was Mari-san's last day with us. She was our interpreter for official visits, and those visits are complete. If we screw up on the home visit we're on our own!
This picture was taken as we left the junior high. Oka-san is on the left and Mari-san is on the right. They have really helped to make this a memorable trip!When I got to the hotel I did a quick load of laundry and I planned to do postcards. That didn't happen. I may end up hand delivering some of these! Anyway, we went out for dinner and then went looking for karaoke. We headed in to Chofu, but couldn't find the place. Then we asked a man on the street and he walked us to the place. We asked him to join us, but he chose not to. I didn't last long. I knew it was a bad sign when they offered us ashtrays. The room was hot, small, and reeked of smoke. It made me a bit sick, so I left and took the train back to the hotel. Alone you may ask? Yes, it is very safe here on the streets. I don't really think twice. I still have that look around attitude, but I'm not really worried. It's a nice feeling. OK, I've got to get some postcards written :) I'll report again on my adventures as soon as I can!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Komazawa Gakuen Girls' Senior High School

Today we headed for the Komazawa Girls High School. I thought it was going to be very different, because the teaching is based on Zen Buddhism. It was a regular high school with Buddhism offered as a class. We started the day with announcements and a short two minute meditation. Then we took a short tour of the campus and the beautiful library they have.
Then we headed to the zazen meditation room that we allowed to try. We were given a quick overview of Buddhism and then we were shown the correct way to prepare ourselves for meditation. Once seated properly and in proper posture, the priest showed us how they use a stick to whack those who are meditating so they correct their posture or wake up. He then allowed us to experience that. The waiting for it was worse than the whack. How can you meditate when you hear people getting hit?! After that, we were given time to observe classes. Fiona and I wandered into the calligraphy class, and the students eagerly greeted us and then encouraged us to try the calligraphy. They asked us a word we wanted to write and they made an example. I hope the sensei wasn’t too annoyed with us. Fiona did a great job, but when I started they all sucked in air. I realized later that I used too much ink when I noticed it had turned into a big black blob! Oops! I got another chance later thankfully. Then we had a Japanese lunch in the cafeteria.
They got us there before the crowd, but then students from the university, which is connected to the high school, started arriving with their bento boxes. There “lunch box” has several different compartments to separate the food. That way everything does not require individual packaging. They are very environment conscious here in Japan. There are recycling boxes everywhere. They are even on vending machines. OK, after lunch we were instructed by the calligraphy teacher. I did a much better job this time, and he gave us each a fan to do calligraphy on. It looks fairly impressive. We spent the rest of the school day observing classes and then we met with the principal and a couple of the teachers. We found that many of their high school problems we have in the states. They have banned cell phones from the campus, and when they heard about problems we have they looked satisfied that they have. We were allowed to take some old text books, and he gave us a little souvenir. After school they have club which is basically our extra curricular activities. We were able to observe a kyudo class, which is the ancient martial art of archery.
Apparently, the sensei (teacher) was a very well known archer, but he was too modest to say. He had just retired from the school after 42 years of service, but he continues teaching the archery club. We also watched the dance club.

The girls were very eager to perform for us and have their pictures taken. After that I wandered upstairs to see if I could find Ikebana (flower arranging). Instead I found students all around the fourth floor practicing instruments of various kinds. There wasn’t a teacher around, so they must have been practicing something they had already discussed. Finally, I was able to watch the tea ceremony club. The tea ceremony has many different facets, and it takes time to learn it and perform it properly.
The teacher was so apologetic about not having room for us to join, but we needed to get to the bus anyway. I am so tired and my legs hurt, so I had planned on staying in, but I ended up going for dinner with Fiona and Dean. We found an out of the way place not too far from the hotel. It was good, but I’m going to take a nice Japanese bath and hit the sack! We go to the junior high school tomorrow. Saturday we’ll spend with our host family and Sunday is the ryokan. More later.

Elementary School Continued

I’m back. We’re all having trouble getting internet connections, so I’m going to write this in Office and hope I can upload from the lobby computer. As I was saying, we had an incredible time at the elementary school. After calligraphy we were able to wander in and out of classes. This is an English class for sixth graders being taught by student teachers. Teachers dress very casually here, because they are always on the move.There were parent volunteers in the classes who knew English. Then if we had questions we could ask them. I was assigned to a third grade classroom for lunch. I went to their class, but they were at PE so I waited. The students change for gym so I was a little surprised when they came back and started stripping down in the classroom. I was a bit uncomfortable, so I waited in the hall until most of them looked changed. I asked Mari-san if that was common. She said it is because there is no room for changing, but some of the students are very uncomfortable with it, and it can cause problems. The students serve each other lunch. They are places in groups called han. Everyday one of the han is in charge of the lunch. There are also two students in charge of the classroom, so they make sure everything is being taken care of. I had a wonderful PTA member in the class helping me speak with the children. They were very excited to have me there, and they played rock, paper, scissors to see which han I would sit with. Although I became very boring to some of them when I couldn’t name my favorite video game! They asked about my favorite Japanese food and my favorite American food. I’m so mad I didn’t take a picture of the lunch.

Sometimes I just get caught up in what I’m doing and I forget my camera! All of the students eat lunch from school. There was a very thick slice of soft bread, soup with carrots, corn, cabbage and broth, a pork cutlet, and milk. It was very healthy and very good! Then they lined up, cleaned their place, and went out to play. They wanted me to play, but we were asking about cleaning and they had arranged it for us. Students clean their own room. Apparently they don’t clean on Wednesday, but when we sounded disappointed, Oka-san, the wonder guide got it arranged. The students move all of the desks to one end of the room. It is swept, and then cleaned with rags. The furniture is moved to the other end of the room and the process is repeated. We observed a first grade class, so the teacher did the big sweep.
I went out to play, and was immediately grabbed by the hand to play but the chime sounded to end recess. We were so disappointed! The rest of the afternoon we just observed whatever we wanted to, and then we met with the principal and teachers of the school for question and answers. That particular school has a high parent involvement and no apparent bullying problem. There is very little moving in and out, and the population is somewhat mixed. Just as we have problems with prejudice in the states, it happens in Japan. One of the group met a mother who said her child is Japanese and Rwandan. She is happy at that school because they are very accepting. It was explained to us that unless you are Japanese and born in Japan, you are not considered Japanese. So, if you are Korean, but born in Japan, you are still considered Korean. That sometimes causes trouble.

We ended up going to Chofu by train. We had a Japanized version of French food. It was rice covered with cream sauce and shrimp. It was then baked, and was quite delicious. No, I don’t have a picture – I was hungry! I was up until about 11 trying to download pictures and blog. The wireless isn’t working in my room, so everything is so. I came down to the lobby where it works, and just found out that I lost everything I wrote today! Ahhhh!! So I’m posting this and then I’ll rewrite about the high school we visited today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Inagi Dainana Elementary School

I'm still working on embedding slide shows, so bear with me!

OK, I'm tired so I'll post more tomorrow. We are getting up early to visit a Buddist High School for girls! Heh, if you double click on the pictures you can see them larger! I'm trying to figure out how to make a link to see all of my pictures. I'm so tired at the end of the day, it's sometimes hard to get it done. Oh, ah, the postcards? Haven't mailed many. Sorry!

Inagi Dai nana Elementary School June 18, 2008

Wow! Today has been the best day so far. It is going to take along time to write about it, so you may want to visit a few times as I update. It's 9 PM right now, and I'm dragging, but I really want to post some pictures and video. We got to the elementary school before the children arrive. Every day they are greeted at the gate by parent volunteers. The kids were very excited to see us and most made a point of saying hello. A few were very shy, and really steered clear. When the bell rang at 8:15, it's really a nice chiming sound like a clock, the students moved into the shoe room where they deposit their shoes and put on their school slippers. The children's slippers are really more like tennis shoes, but they only wear them in the school.
After English we tried our hand in the caligraphy class. I was only OK.

We waited in a lounge until the day started with an assembly in our honor. Imagine our surprise when we walked in to several arches of flowers that we wound through to get to our seats.

The students did most of announcing and then the show began, and it was one fantastic treat after another!

After the younger children performed, we really got to see what years of practice can do!

The drums were done by 5th graders and they were outstanding. We played rock, paper, scissors with the kids, but the twist is that if you lose, you give the winner a name card. Well, the kids swarmed us. However, the star of our group was Jotwan from North Carolina. The kids couldn't leave him alone. He said he felt like a rock star, and he could easily get used to all of this attention! The sixth grades provided music, and after the assembly the 4th graders performed and then taught us a dance. I don't think my thighs with get over it for a while.

After the assembly and the dance lesson, we were free to roam through the classes. There was a lot of activity! I was shocked, because I thought the classes would be very disciplined and quiet. It seemed like organized chaos, yet the kids always knew what to do and when to respond. I watched a third grade math class. Now, remember, they start the year in April. So, this is about 3 months into the new year, and the children were multiplying 1 digit by 3 digits! We haven't even started multiplication by the end of three months! I'm going to have to rethink my math for the upcoming year! Then between second and third period the children went out for recess. The teachers may go out and play with the kids, but I didn't see any formal supervision. Apparently, there is no bullying problem at this school either. Following recess we went to a fifth grade English class. They begin English in third grade at this school. They said, "Nice to meet you. My name is ____. What is your name? Where do you come from?" Then they served us Japanese food. We went down the table, and the children asked, "Do you like ______?" If we answered yes, they served that to us. They also sang a couple of songs in English. It was delightful! Then we tried our hand at calligraphy. I only did an OK job.