Tuesday, 6 February 2018

February Executive Committee Meeting Guests

We were fortunate to have Nathan Lane (Japanese Language Teachers Association of Victoria President) and Hiroshi Hondo (The Japanese Language Speech Contest Victoria President) attend our February Executive Committee meeting. Both contributed to our discussions of our 2018 Japanese Speech Contest which will be held on Friday 7th September at Monash University - Frankston Campus.

Each year we review how the competition was run and work to refine and improve for the following year. We discuss the feedback received from our judges, as well as the teachers, student participants, parents and executive committee members.

We are very grateful to both Nathan and Hiroshi for making the time to attend our meeting and provide valuable feedback. FSFA is hoping to further the relationship between our associations to promote the teaching and development of Japanese language within our community.

Nathan Lane (JLTAV President) and Hiroshi Honda (JLSCV President)

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

William D'Arcy's Japan Adventure - Part 4

Welcome to the last chapter!

The last two weeks I spent with my third and final host family. The end is nigh. But yet again, the change was a completely different experience. My new hosts, the Moriya family, are actually the biggest family ever! And they all live right next to each other. I had about three acting host mothers who were all as lovely as the next; not to mention 2 sisters and 2 brothers - one of whom was 18 and actually felt like my brother. However, due to my inability to pronounce Japanese correctly I could never say his name (Ryoto) correctly. This was rather embarrassing, but he seemed happy being called "BBQ boy" due to his part-time job. Ruka was a bit younger and very funny. Finally, Nono and Yuki, who are in elementary school, were so much fun.

The Moriyas took me to so many lovely places, even going as far as taking me to Kyoto! It's a long way away from Susono, so I am forever thankful because Kyoto was incredibly beautiful. Everywhere you turn there's something to see and do and there's always a tourist or two around every corner, so I fitted right in. Upon arrival to Kyoto, by some small degree of chance it happened to be the first day of snow for Kyoto. I was there to see it - what are the odds?

Kyoto is full of amazing traditional Japanese architecture. You can really see the history and just why it was the capital city for so long. But I think out of all the temples and castles that were too beautiful to describe, the highlight was definitely lunch. Lunch was a traditional ramen soup with a twist. This was no ordinary ramen, this was fire ramen! Basically, everyone sat along a big bar that looks into the kitchen. After everyone was presented with a large bowl of ramen, the chef revealed a big pot of what I assume was burning oil. Much to my surprise, one by one he poured the oil into the ramen, sending flames sky high. A true spectacle! It was delicious as well.

Every weekend is an adventure in Japan, and my time with the Moriya family was no exception. Hakone, the skywalk, takoyaki parties at home, soccer in the park and the time we drove up near Mt. Fuji and played in the snow. It seems every family I stay with is so much fun.

In between my adventures with my host family I also found the time to meet up with some my mum's friends from her time as an exchange student. Eiko Sato (née Sugiyama) was a previous exchange student to Australia and actually stayed with Mum's family. Namia Kominami (née Katsumata) was Mum's friend while she was in Japan on exchange. 

Of course the two weeks flew by while I was having fun and it was soon time to say goodbye, which I hate. I hate goodbyes and I hate it even more when I have to say goodbye to Japan! It has become my home and the people who hosted me have become my family. It'd almost be easier for me to just say, "see ya 'round," and walk away. Goodbyes are always too dramatic and long-term, I hate them! Alas when the time came, it was unavoidable.

But don't worry Japan, I'll be back! So, until next time, I'll see ya 'round.

P.S. Kyudo is still impossible - I almost hit a target!

"No ramen, no life!"

The Sky Walk

The Hakone Shrine on the shores of Lake Ashi

Playing with Yuki and Nono in the snow

William and Ryoto outside Fushimi Inari-Taisha in Kyoto

Ruka and William visiting Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion) in Kyoto

Kinkaku-ji with a dusting of snow - the first day for the season!

William with the kyudo girls - all the boys hurried home!

Bonus Report: "An Adventure in Review"

I'm back home now and it feels like I never left, although it's hard to forget the last two months. Looking back, I wish I had more time - but for what its worth, I don't think I'd change a single thing about my trip. Everything I did, everything I saw, everyone I met, made my trip into the adventure it was. I can walk away from it with the best of memories and know that it won't be long before I run straight back!

I'm so grateful for the once in a lifetime opportunity. FSFA and SOFA really gave me an experience I'll never forget. I'll have to go back, there's so much more to see! In two months I barely scratched the surface: every prefecture, every town, every household and family, every person, every part of Japan seems to have something to offer. So I'll be back, and I'll see everyone who made Japan special for me again. Aiko, the Egawas, and the Moriyas, as well as all the friends I met along the way. I look forward to seeing you all again someday, but until then, I'll see ya 'round.

Mata Ne!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

William D'Arcy's Japan Adventure - Part 3

It's been too long…

Just a little while ago a little event known as New Years took place and before that, Christmas. Year after year most of us spend this time with family giving gifts and what not. But this year I decided to mix things up a bit and spend my festive season in Japan, leaving Christmas behind me - or so I thought! Apparently, everyone here loves any excuse to have a festival and Christmas is huge with massive decorations up everywhere. It's much more extravagant than anything in Australia. Even Christmas dinner is the most amazing thing ever: everyone I've spoken to enjoys a lovely big box of KFC chicken on Christmas Eve. What could be better? Still, as I thought there's not a lot of focus on Christmas here. I wasn't really expecting to celebrate Christmas, which is a small price to pay for the 2-month holiday of a lifetime.  But still Christmas morning came, and BAM! - a small box from Mum arrived and another from Dad. Both were filled with chocolate and the best of gifts because apparently they haven't given me enough already. 

Christmas aside, it's time for New Years - I'm told it's rather important. This year my host family, the Egawas, decided that New Year would be spent at Hamamatsu, the home of unagi (eel) - which I might add is delicious. On the two hour trip to Hamamatsu, we stopped at Ryōtan-Ji Temple. Now I'm not exactly sure the purpose of the temple is. The word Zen was thrown around a bit, but I think that was lost in translation. Either way, it was beautiful: big, well-maintained gardens and huge, decorated buildings dating back hundreds upon hundreds of years. Moving on to Hamamatsu, we arrived at a big hotel, the tallest building in Hamamatsu. High raised ceilings, an all you can eat buffet and BEDS! Hamamatsu, like many Japanese towns and cities, is in no short supply of castles and shrines.  It's home to a rather cute castle which I'm told was the home of the first Shogun (maybe). 

Unagi pie! It tastes a bit like cornflakes, I'm not really the biggest fan. Still, we visited the Unagi pie factory which was kind of crazy. Maybe its because I've never seen the inside of a factory before but there were so many moving parts. Even the people operated like robots! It was possibly the strangest thing I saw. 

But it's time to step away from Hamamatsu and all the popular tourist destinations. It turns out my favourite place in Japan is right here in Susono, I Kyo Ji. Maybe I got the name wrong. (Cannot find the correct name/spelling - Editor) It was beautiful, untouched by tourists and people. At first, all you see is a small building with an equally small bridge leading to the building. But its not until you get close that you see the bridge stands above a deep cavern with water rushing through it. It's the same again on the other side of the building. The building is on a huge floating pillar of rock, surrounded by these deep caverns with fast flowing water. Around the building, many small statues are littered about, covered in moss and almost unrecognisable as people. There are also rough, worn down steps to the river below. I don't know why, but this one little place was more beautiful than anything I've seen in Japan and no-one has even heard of it.

Stay tuned, I only have about 6 days left in Japan and there's much still to say. Part 4 will be here soon!

Ryōtan-Ji Temple Gate

Ryōtan-Ji Temple Gardens

William outside Hamamatsu Castle

New Year's sunrise at Hamamatsu Hotel

Go Ryu no Taki (The Five Dragon Falls) with Kurara, the dog

I Kyo Ji