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Summer Programmes

The Project Begins

11 July 2017

I’m glad to say we made it to Yamagata with no problems despite the amount of luggage we hauled around with us. Yesterday we were given our induction and met the family running the centre. In Japan they take off their shoes inside a building and then wear slippers around the house which was a bit of culture shock for me as I clumsily stumbled around everywhere in slippers a few sizes too big for my tiny feet. Our accommodation is a traditional Japanese room, complete with tatami mats and sliding doors. As I’ve never slept in a tatami room (or even been in one) before, it was a fun new experience and I enjoyed it, despite the constant whirring of the fan. The family seem really nice and the place has a close-knit feel to it that is completely different from Tokyo. We’re up in the mountains here as well so the scenery is incredible, with barely any houses around and plenty of rice paddies. Today we visited a few shrines and temples that apparently inspired the famous haiku poet, Basho. Although it was a steep climb of no less than 1000 steps, the view from the top was absolutely stunning and I could definitely see why Basho was inspired. After the shrines we dined in a soba noodle restaurant. Soba is a type of noodle made from buckwheat which is often eaten cold in the summer with a dipping sauce, crunchy shredded seaweed and spring onions. We ate in the traditional Japanese manner by sitting on cushions on the floor at a low table which was also a new experience for me. I would like to get used to it as my back hurt a little afterwards – I can imagine it’s a great way to improve posture. Then we were allowed to go shopping and we explored a mall, looking at all the interesting things for sale. I was particularly intrigued by the supermarket, especially as the fruit in Japan is incredibly expensive – one punnet of grapes sold for around ¥1200 (about £8)!
Our evening meal was in the centre and we have to clean up everything along with the boys living in the centre. The boys were quiet and polite; I look forward to getting to know them better in the weeks to come. Well, time for bed as it’s going to be our first workday tomorrow and we have to be up at (groan) 6:30am. Wish me luck! おやすみなさい。