by Jonathon (Year 11)
At the end of Term IV, ten students, three past students and two teachers went to Japan for two weeks on an educational tour of international culture, world food, mind-blowing architecture and Alia style drama.
First up, we visited Osaka, which is a large metropolis known mainly for its food culture and places like Osaka castle. Although our visit in the city was short it definitely left an impression…
During our visit to Osaka castle a couple with pamphlets came up to us and invited us all to attend a tea ceremony, free of charge, all we had to do was follow these complete strangers, get in their cars and drive to a temple not too far away. Wary of the legitimacy of the experience and that we wouldn’t have to pay for anything a small group of us jumped at the offer. Everyone in the group turned gps tracking on and went off to the matcha tea ceremony. As it turned out none of us were in any danger. We performed a traditional tea ceremony that had been passed down from the Samurai for hundreds of years and performed a prayer that stayed a running joke for the rest of the trip. We left feeling grateful for the very sacred and rare experience. Osaka was great, although short, now it was time for a tired group of travellers to journey to Kyoto.
Kyoto was definitely one of the more low-key cities. There were many temples, wider roads and older architecture but it wasn’t something to miss. In Kyoto we visited Kyoto tower, many temples, cycled through the city streets and along the Kamo river and drank weird Japanese energy drinks. The thing that brought the entire group the most joy would have to have been the donut shop at Kyoto central station. Who needs world renowned architecture and first class food? Japanese glazed donuts are all we need. Other than eating delicious mouth watering glazed pastries, many cool things happened — one of the students, Kelly, rode a bike for the first time, we pet deer and learned temple etiquette at Nara Park, went to great restaurants and took the bullet train to Tokyo.
At this point in the trip most of us were completely drained of energy, but we tried to pull through. Tokyo is the city of lights, it’s enormous and busy. We went to Sega arcades, karaoke, the Studio Ghibli Museum, hikes, Miraikan science museum, Akihabara Electric City, shopping in Shibuya and more temples. A part of the trip to Tokyo that will stay with me is when a small group of us went to a mountain and hiked to the summit. We had great conversations on the way up on subjects like starting your own city, zombie movies, the magnitude of Tokyo compared to Melbourne and people taking breaks because of the exhaustion that comes with hiking. Getting to the top of the mountain and seeing Mount Fuji was amazing. We took some funny panoramas. It was very special.
Though most of us were tired it was a really amazing experience seeing the city, getting to know people I may not have ever talked to, building friendships and becoming a little Alia family. Thank you to Yuri for organizing this trip and Hagan and Yuri for supervising with the help of Friday and past students Jess and Mikaela.