Prepare for take off: Japan on the horizon for language students

A group of Blackfriars students is getting ready to say konnichiwa to Japan.

The senior Japanese language students, together with Head of Japanese Chikako Oguma, Head of House Beau Leonard and former Blackfriars maths teacher Dan Winter, will travel to Japan in April – the school’s first overseas trip since the covid pandemic.

The group will spend 14 days in Japan – visiting  Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagoya and Tokyo – experiencing the culture, cuisine and customs of the country.

Oguma Sensei was thrilled to be able to again take a group of students to her home country.

“In Nagoya, we will visit our sister school (Otani Senior High School) … that will be a great experience,” Oguma Sensei said.

The boys will spend time with their Otani “buddies” and take part in after-school club activities, known in Japan as “bukatsudo”, and excursions.

During the trip, they will also visit Adelaide’s sister city of Himeji, the Hiroshima Peace Park and Tokyo Disneyland, attend a baseball game, take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and dine out at Okonomimura, an okonomiyaki theme park.

Oguma Sensei said all the students would learn a lot from the trip.

“The younger students … can see that there’s a bigger world out there; that what they are learning is used in other places,” she said.

“The Years 11 and 12 boys, they can really try out their language. Those Year 12 boys are ready to have a really good conversation. I think it inspires them to study Japanese more.”

Year 12 Japanese students Matthew Jones and Nam Le are heading to Japan.

Year 12 student Matthew Jones was most looking forward to visiting Otani Senior High.

“So, interacting with the Japanese students and seeing how they live, how they study, go to school, and going to their club activities,” said Matthew, who has been studying Japanese since Year 5.

“I think we will be able to have somewhat simple dialogue, but we have enough tools that we will be able to understand one another.”

Fellow Year 12 Nam Le was “really, really excited” for sightseeing: “Just going to difference places, experiencing a new environment.”

He was also interested to see the similarities, and differences, between his own Vietnamese culture and the culture in Japan.

Blackfriars first took students to Japan in the late 1990s, after developing the sister school relationship with Otani Senior High School.

Fun facts about Japan

Kit Kats: Japan is famous for its wide variety of Kit Kat flavours, with more than 300 varieties, including green tea, wasabi, salt & lemon, peach mint and sake.

Island of cats: Tashirojima is a small island in north-eastern Japan where cats outnumber humans. The cats were originally brought in to deal with mice that plagued silkworm farms.

Mascot culture: Japan has a strong mascot culture. Many companies, regions and organisations having their own cute and quirky mascots, known as “yuru-chara”. These mascots often have their own merchandise and fan following.

Longest life expectancy: Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, with an average lifespan of more than 84 years. This is attributed to factors such as a healthy diet, active lifestyle and access to quality healthcare.

KFC: Every Christmas season, an estimated three to four million Japanese families treat themselves to KFC, which reportedly sells 10 times more on 24 December than on a typical day. Orders for 25 December must be placed months in advance and people queue up outside takeaway outlets.


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