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School Trips

School trips are great. Everyone, teachers and students alike, always look forward to the school trips. In Japanese junior high schools, the first and second grades go on a day trip, and the third grade goes on a three to five day trip, in my ken, usually Tokyo to see Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Disneyland, and the sites around Tokyo. To the right is Todai-ji temple in Nara. In my first year of the JET program, that was where the first grade went for their yearly school trip. They type of trip varies wildly between historical or cultural, as in a trip to Nara or Hiroshima, and those purely for entertainment value like amusement parks.

Usually for one day school trips, the students are made to dress in their P.E. uniforms. There is a short assembly outside of school before they are loaded up into buses. When they arrive at the destination, students are looked over again to make sure their appearance and nothing they have is against regulation. I always see girls being forced to change their legwarmer/baggy-type socks. The school officials and teachers always want to present a good face.

Teachers pose with a theme-park character
Students on a water-coaster
at a local amusement park

The JET almost always goes on one of the day-trips. I always asked, but was never allowed, to go to Tokyo. At the amusement parks, they lecture them on the importance of behaving before they go inside, then turn them loose. The teachers hang around in packs and keep an eye on things when they themselves aren't having too much fun. As a JET you're expected to go from group to group of students, hang out and entertain, and you have a ton of fun doing it, too! The day is exhausting, but worth every minute.
The photo at the left was taken when I went with the first graders on a trip to a local island. An hour or two on a ferry and then a few more hours exploring the island. I love school trips!

One time, I went on a trip to the south of Wakayama to pick ume, or Japanese plums. Ume juice is delicous and Wakayama is known all over Japan for producing the absolute best and sweetest juice. After picking the fruits, we took our booty home and bottled up the green plums in sugar water for days. You can't actually eat the raw plums, they are far too sour!

School trips never get out of hand... the students are far too excited and far to afraid to do anything which would jeopardize future school trips! The trips are an awful lot of fun and as a JET you get some of the best quality time to be with the students.


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