This week was a fun week for the students here at Ichikashi. The 1st year students went on a class trip to Nagano where they spent a few days hiking, cooking, and learning the rules and expectation of high school life. They all came back sunburnt and tired from all the activity - but much more closely bonded as a group. 

The 3rd year (senior) students spend Thursday in Tokyo touring a few Universities. They had the chance to learn about various campuses and see what facilities they have to offer. It is just the beginning of the school year here in Japan, so students have all year to decide what they want to do after high school - but it's good to get them thinking about it now.

As for the 2nd year students, steph and I joined them all on a day trip to Yokohama. The reason for this trip was mainly for the students to practice getting to Haneda airport (which is on the way to Yokohama) by themselves since they will be going there in the fall to fly to Okinawa. The students were all told to meet at Haneda airport at 9am sharp. Only one student came late and unfortunately, he received a 20 minute lecture by the one teacher that all the students are intimidated by! I was scared just listening from afar. (Japanese teachers have a way of looking at you in this intense way like "how dare you disrespect me!") Anyway, after meeting at Haneda, the students had the day free and just had to meet at Yokohama stadium (30km away) at 3pm. 

There are about 300 2nd year students and they are split up into 10 homeroom classes. It was a bit crazy in the morning trying to round them all up, but the homeroom teachers did a great job of keeping this organized and sending their kids off in groups of 5. It was also so cute to see them in their regular clothes since I see them in their very serious uniforms everyday! 

Yokohama is about 40 minutes from Tokyo...and Tokyo is about 1 hour from do some quick math and you will realize that the students and teachers all had to sit on the train for a long time that day! Japan life = train life. 

The students went on their way and the teachers also went off to various places (cup-o-noodle museum, world porters mall, red brick building, chinatown, etc). I headed off with four other teachers to the old historical Red Brick building near the water. They happened to have Easter flowers still on display which was awesome. 

We grabbed a quick coffee at Bills before heading to Chinatown to meet up with the other teachers for lunch. The best part was my co-worker, Mashiko sensei, had never seen Latte art before and was in awe of the design haha! But more on Mashiko and coffee later...

We had buffet lunch in Chinatown and the food was SO GOOD. I wish I had more room in my stomach to eat everything, but by the 4th or 5th dish I was already stuffed. And as you can see, I had to hold my own at the mostly-men table. It wasn't a problem for me though, and I have two older brothers to thank for that. 

After lunch we had an hour or so to walk around before meeting up with all the students at the arena at 3pm. We walked to Motomachi, a very fancy old shopping area, and stopped by this scone store that smelled amazing. I love these little towns of Japan, filled with so much character and quality goods. 

These are boys from the 2A "international course" homeroom. They will be going to Torrance at the end of this year to do the exchange program with North. I feel like a proud parent watching them grow up in front of my eyes!! *crying* 

At 3pm the students all met back at the Yokohama stadium. They had to check in with their homeroom teacher, return the cameras they borrowed, and take one more class photo before being finished for the day. It was really a fun day for the students to explore on their own and for the teachers to hang out! 

If you didn't know already, Japanese people really love to party. So after a full day in Yokohama...we took the train 2 hours back to Kashiwa and then had some time to kill before meeting up with all the teachers again for a dinner party to celebrate our successful trip with the students. So Steph, Ikeda sensei, Takagi sensei, and I took Mashiko sensei to Starbucks FOR THE FIRST TIME. Yes, that is right. He has literally NEVER stepped foot into a Starbucks ever. We couldn't believe it when he told us a few weeks with an hour to spare before dinner we knew we had to go. 

I ordered the new Cantaloupe frapp and after dropping the first one on the ground (oops) they kindly made me a new one and I sipped the sugary sweetness and loved it! So refreshing...and the little pieces of melon and pudding are the best. Mashiko ordered a dark chocolate frapp and after his first sip of Starbucks ever he said... "WOW. THAT'S GOOD" haha!

After our memorable time at Starbucks, we walked 10 minutes to the dinner place...a sushi restaurant. Lucky me. The head teacher of the 2nd year students started off the night with a speech in which he said "Amie will challenge herself to eating sushi tonight" HAHAA I had no way of turning back at that point (he knew I didnt eat seafood and was determined to get me to try). This appetizer platter was right up my alley and I was eating all the karage... but when the sushi came I took a deep breath, drenched the slimy fish in shoyu, and ate two pieces to appease my co-workers. 

After dinner I finally made it back home at around 9:30pm and when my head hit the pillow that night I thought to myself "whoa. what a day. I am exhausted. wouldn't want it any other way." (did I just make a rap right there!?)