Thursday, 28 February 2019

Japanese Tour Report by Frankston High students Sarah & Brigid

On Sunday 23 September 2018 the Frankston High School clarinet choir, led by Mr. Peter Sharp and Mrs. Sally Bredin, arrived at Narita airport and travelled to Ueno and Tokyo. We stayed there for four days experiencing the joys of Japanese culture and experiences such as their markets, Harajuku, Tokyo Disneyland, and the Studio Ghibli Museum.

Studio Ghibli Museum located in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, Tokyo

On the 28th we joined the Frankston delegation at Tokyo Station and headed off on the bullet train (shinkansen) to our sister city Susono. The delegation arrived at the Citizens Cultural Centre in Susono for a formal gathering where we were introduced to the Susono committee and our lovely host families. We all parted ways with one another and were treated to delicious culturally significant Japanese food and got to experience what it’s like to live with a Japanese host family.

Mount Fuji World Heritage Centre in Fujinomiya

The following morning, we met at the Susono Civic Centre with all members of the delegation and took a tour bus to see the sights of Susono and local area. We visited the Mount Fuji World Heritage Centre to learn of its history and importance and got to see the famous Mt. Fuji itself in the distance, but sadly we could not climb it this time.

The iconic Mount Fuji skirted by clouds

The next stop was a traditional Japanese temple (Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha) with a rich cultural significance where we got to pray, learn of the temple's history and significance, and be able to see a woman wearing traditional Japanese clothes connected to the history of the temple.

Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha

Sake is an important part of Japanese culture, so it was no surprise when we stopped off at a brewery for the next part of our tour. We were instructed on its history and the method to make sake and store it correctly. At the end of this session we got to witness all the tasting and buying of sake that the adults partook in!

Visiting the sake brewery

By this point in time we were all ready for some lunch, so luckily our next stop was off to an okonomiyaki restaurant where we got to mix our own okonomiyaki and fry them up on the special hotplate which was imbedded into the table to fry up our lunch.

Okonomiyaki restaurant with imbedded hotplates

The last stop on the tour was the Japan Garden Railway, where small mechanical trains are maintained and used for the enjoyment of the public. The garden is generally closed on this day but was especially opened for our group and we got to ride on the trains and a SEGWAY! We all parted ways with smiles on our faces at the end of a wonderfully eventful day.

Group photo at the Japan Garden Railway

At the beginning of the Saturday we got to spend time with our host families and have fun with them in the morning before we went off to the Cultural Centre to prepare for the Australian Fair the next day.

Go Mrs. Bredin!

The day of the Australian Fair had finally arrived, we were all ready and prepped for an upbeat day and an equally great performance. We arrived early to practice a few times and get ready. It was exciting when the people started arriving and looking around the various stalls the association had set up, showcasing different aspects of Australia’s culture. First, a Japanese primary school brass band did an amazing performance. We were intimidated by how good they all were. We performed three times throughout the day, along with the occasional game of cards during an intermission.

Frankston High's clarinet choir performing at the Australian Fair

It was a fantastic day. After it had finished and we cleaned up, we were spoiled with a fabulous Japanese after-party where we listened to taiko drumming, other performances, and many stalls with different Japanese cuisines. And to top it all off at the end of the day we got to experience a Japanese typhoon. It was very tiring, but all worth it, even the typhoon!!!

One of three performances given throughout the day

The day for us to depart from Susono and our host families finally arrived, and they were all sad but hopeful goodbyes to one another as we headed back to Tokyo. We separated from the FSFA delegation and spent our last day in Tokyo reminiscing on the times we spent together in this amazing country and relishing the fact that we were returning to Australia that night.

A study in precision and concentration

It was a superb experience and trip that we all got to spend together, memories and lasting friendships were made and there is no way we will ever forget this for a long time! We would like to thank the Frankston Susono Friendship Association for letting us come and perform in Japan for them and hope that they will continue to ask Frankston High School to perform with them on future trips and festivals.

Frankston High School Clarinet Choir September 2018

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Susono Visit Reflections - David Cross (FSFA Executive Committee)

In September, my wife Anita and I arrived in Japan for our very first visit, to take part in the Frankston delegation for the Australia Fair in Susono. After a couple of days traipsing around Tokyo with fellow delegation members Bev (an experienced visitor to Japan), Vic, Bob and Heather, we met up with the rest of the delegation at Tokyo Station and headed to Susono, where we’d be allocated to various host families for the next four days.

Tsukiji Outer Fish Market in Tokyo

Official Welcome Ceremony at Susono's Citizen Cultural Centre
Our hosts were Sayaka and Brian and their two young daughters. Sayaka was an exchange student for a year in Adelaide during her high school years; and Brian is an expat American who’s lived in Japan more than half his life. We were treated to wonderful hospitality and authentic Japanese home-cooked food, a real bonus for us.

Japanese Model Railway Park
A wonderful time working with our delegation members and our counterparts as we prepared for the Fair, with lots of activity – Anita working in the kitchens preparing authentic Aussie food and me helping set up the displays downstairs in the Susono Citizen Cultural Centre. A highlight of the Fair were the performances of the Frankston High School Clarinet Choir, who wowed the crowd and received a standing ovation for their final performance.

Frankston High's Clarinet Choir performing at the Australian Fair

Frankston Delegation presented on stage at the Australian Fair
After the busy day of the Fair, it was all hands on deck to pack up, then a wind-down with a variety of foods from little stalls assembled especially for the evening. All this took place while we were entertained by local musicians, including a taiko drum band, to which some of the Australian delegation joined in to demonstrate their skills and timing (or lack thereof) on the drums.

Akiyama Taiko Drum Group with Frankston High students at Farewell Party

Host Family at the Farewell Party

Host Sayaka farewells Anita and David outside the Susono Civic Centre

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Japanese Garden - Summer Update

The Japanese Garden, located on the VCE Campus at Frankston High School, was opened on the 15th anniversary weekend of the Frankston-Susono sister city proclaimation - Sunday 23 February 1997. It is both a physical and tangible representation of the strong relationship that has developed over the past 37 or so years between the cities of Frankston and Susono.

Whilst the garden continues to flourish for the most part, the summer months always present a challenge. In particular, the searing heat warms the large boulders, draws moisture from the earth, and creates areas where the mondo grass struggles to survive. Ironically, the weeds seem to thrive in these conditions as many gardeners would know!

The primary focus in the warmer months is to ensure the garden is well watered. Other tasks include 'dead-heading' or removing the dead flowers and leaves from the many azalea and rhododendron bushes, removing much of the leaf litter (including the bamboo leaves), and weeding!

After some hours work over the weekend, the garden is now in a presentable state for the start of the 2019 school year. My thanks to Adrian Thomas who was able to provide a couple of hours assistance on Sunday morning and has expressed a willingness to help in the future.

We will be back in the garden next Sunday morning (Sunday 3 February) from 9 a.m. If any other FSFA members are able to provide some assistance it would be greatly appreciated!

Our next executive committee meeting will be held on Tuesday 5 February at the Frankston City Council Chambers commencing at 6.30 p.m. Visitors are always made very welcome!