Last weekend my childhood friend, Asami, was in Tokyo! She has family in Senju, which is conveniently on the way to Tokyo for me so we met up in the morning for church and then an afternoon exploring the city!

I loved introducing her to my church family and they welcomed her with open arms...and were especially impressed with her Japanese! For lunch we headed to Roppongi where we ate at Afuri (yuzu ramen). Then we headed to Ginza, found some amazing icecream well as your average $200 mango. 

It worked out for us to stay on the Eastern side of Tokyo (as opposed to the shibuya side) since Senju and Kashiwa were both on that side of the we hit up Asakusa and Tokyo Sky tree. This senbei was so fresh and so good!

One day with Asami in Tokyo was way too short! We are already scheming up our ideas for a reunion in Japan again next year. I love love love having visitors and seeing people from home in Tokyo. 

After hanging with Asami on Sunday...I had to turn gears and get ready for a busy week ahead.

This past week my school here in Japan, Ichikashi, hosted the high school I attended as a student, North High, in our annual exchange program. It was so crazy being on the Japan-side of things this time around...since I grew up knowing this exchange program as both my brothers, my sister, and myself were all a part of the program when we were in high school. Life has a crazy way of coming full circle.

We welcomed the group of 16 students and two teachers on Tuesday at our school in a very formal assembly. The North students were all a bit nervous and intimidated by the formality of it all, but they soon warmed up to things and enjoyed being reunited with their host students (who they hosted in Torrance back in November).

A quick flashback to...7+ years ago when I was a high school senior and I hosted students from Ichikashi! I loved being a part of the exchange program and it is just so funny that now I am working at this exact school that we hosted students from.

The assembly was all 1st period and it included a lot of speeches, some formal gift giving, and both the Japanese and American National anthems which was actually the first time I've heard the American National anthem in Japan!  

The students were very busy all week....Tokyo on Monday, Welcome assembly and school tour on Tuesday (some of them went to Dland after), Calligraphy, computer class, kimono wearing, kendo, P.E., English classes, Japanese classes, and a private concert from the brass band which made all of the students cry (our brass band is seriously top notch)!! Being on the teacher side of things, we had a dinner every night this week. One with the principal and staff, one with KIRA city members, and one with just the teachers from North.  

This was from one of the dinners, where we all went to Tonkatsu. I am a HUGE fan of every and all kinds of Katsu and this was some of the best I've ever had. I mean just look at that perfect meal!!

After a busy week, we had a Sayonara (farewell) party at school on Thursday night. The underclassmen helped decorate and set up and the students performed a dance and shared some highlights from their trip. They ALL cried when they thanked their host families and it just reminded me of what an incredible program this really is. 

These kids (underclassmen) are so full of joy!

I was cracking up when I turned around during the group shot and saw this scene...haha!!

Our awesome school principal gave out awards to all the North students. He even gave both his welcome speech and farewell speech in English! Impressive.

Here's a group shot of all the North students and all of the Ichikashi class 3A students who hosted them.

What an awesome week! I love that this is my job and I get the opportunity to work with these students and staff. God is so good in how He works things out and sets up situations years and years in advance. Back in 2009 (and way before that when my mom practically ran the program!) when I was hosting a Japanese high school student from a city called Kashiwa...I would never have imagined I would be LIVING in Kashiwa one day and calling Kashiwa Municipal High School home. That's all God... and it's all for His glory.