Monday August 8 arrived, and the exchange program truly began!
We opened the day at Nihon Fukushi University Affiliated High School, with some greetings by both sides. The American TOMODACHI participating students delivered some presents to Rakko: a sports banner with accompanying card, and popcorn from The Pittsburgh Popcorn Company.
After the morning's greetings, we traveled to Mihama City Hall, where we were greeted by the Mayor and Vice Mayor of Mihama, along with members of the government's education department. Beyond our greeting, the members of Rakko were able to successfully report receiving 3rd Prize at the All Nippon High School Bunkasai last week.
From city hall, we traveled to the seaside restaurant Uotaro, where we had BBQ. The students cooked fish, shrimp, clams, and many other fresh catches from the sea.
After lunch, the students gave their first performance in Japan! They performed "Arashi" in front of an audience waiting for them in the Uotaro restaurant, on drums borrowed from Rakko - drums that, in some cases, are much bigger than what they're used to!
Their performance was a rousing success, showing both the members of Rakko and the attending crowd the results of their hard work over the past year.
After the American students were finished, Rakko performed two songs, wrapping up a great time at Uotaro.
From Uotaro, the group traveled to Ebisenbei no Sato, a ebi senbei (rice cracker made with fresh shrimp) factory in Mihama. Beyond learning how ebi senbei are made, they also had the chance to cook and design their own senbei!
We then travelled to Shio no Yakata, where the students not only learned how salt is made in Mihama, but also had the chance to make salt themselves!
From Shio no Yakata, it was a short walk to Ryosanji, a Buddhist temple that is home to the grave of Otokichi, a Japanese castaway who in 1832 got caught in a storm with 14 others, before landing with 2 other survivors in the United States in 1834. Otokichi's journey is the subject of the song that Rakko performed at the All Nippon High School Bunkasai.
After Ryosanji came Noma Daibou (Omidoji Temple), famous for being the site where Minamoto no Yoshitomo - father of the first Kamakura shogun - was murdered. Students learned more about the story and saw the grave, which is covered with wooden swords left by those seeking to have prayers answered.
Following this, everyone returned to NIhon Fukushi University Affiliated School, having made it through an full and busy day, all the while not losing to the heat. Tomorrow is the first taiko practice in Japan, followed by a trip to Nagoya for a visit to a science center and a reception held by the Aichi America-Japan Society. Stay tuned!
For more pictures from the day's adventures, follow this link to see the Flickr album.