Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Summer program ended with exhausted faces!

Four students staying at the same family were picked up by a shuttle taxi to Osaka Itami Airport. Other three students came to my house last night so that all three would be picked up by a shuttle taxi at 5:30AM! GTS left home before 5 to get to the train station where the rest would meet GTS and go to airport by train! All made it without problem and took of Osaka for Tokyo to be transferred to the international flight to Chicago! GTS will run some errand after the program to prepare for the next program in 2010! GTS is planning to have a little different ones next year to improve program! Oh! By the way, 1101 in fall has only 25 seats left! Morning classes are almost full!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Farewell Party went well with host families!

The final day of the study abroad program successfully passed with a lively farewell party with host families! Every teacher, every student, every host family mom greeted one after another. Students presented their thank you letter to their host families and made a final class presentation in front of everyone. The major event was "SUIKA-wari (breaking watermelon)!"
Two watermelon were completely smashed by one student and one kid from host families! Early flight tomorrow morning will bring everyone back to Chicago where the routine life be resumed! No accidents, no sickness, no bad news..... another great summer program was almost completed! Next year? Yes, we will be back here again! Stay tuned!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Osaka Castle in light rain engulfed us!

Final week for the program began and everyone took the final exam this morning! Regardless of how they did on the exam, I hope everyone got unique experience and learned what other people cannot usually learn! Heavy rain in the morning stopped by the time we began travelling to Osaka Castle though it rained heavily while we were in the train to Osaka! Rain re-stoppped when walking to the Castle t the station! Amazing! I will miss everyone in the trip soon! Life goes on but hopefully many will come back to my class or function back in Chicago!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ninja show! Real Film shooting, etc. at Movie Village

The group visited the Toei Movie Village where some Ninja show, Haunted house and other real movie shootings were going on. Some are interested in certain aspects of Japanese cinemas and its culture. Some are not so much but it was the first official program during the summer program! Osaka Tenjin Festival will be tomorrow and many decorated boat floats will be marching in the river as well as huge fire works will take place as a finale. 5 days left for the program and hopefully everyone miss Kyoto, oh yes, GTS, too!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bump into the former students' group in Arashiyama!

Today was the Sushi making and tasting day at school! Everyone tried making his/her own roll sushi after which we directly went to Daikakuji-temple where everyone did Han-nya-shin-gyo script writing! Walking in its garden and Sagano-meguri took us back to the Randen Station where GTS and students bumped into former students (some are past study abroad students with me and some were regular students of mine in class)! I am glad to see my students leading their own trip to Kyoto!! Really happy about it. We may see with each other at Tenjin Festival this weekend!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Animals in Kyoto welcomed everyone!

Revised schedule due to the weather brought us to the Kyoto City Zoo today where a baby giraffe was born 10 days ago! Feeding time for animals matched our visit so some enjoyed them. Near the zoo, there is a Nanzenji-temple and GTS 'home' which is located next too so-called a love hotel. Every student met GTS' mom and got some gifts and took pictures of 'that love hotel "Chapel Cinderella" not GTS' condo!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Phoenix Pavilion in Rain!

Rain has been quite active in the rainy season this year! Daily schedule must have been altered along with the weather. Getting to Phoenix Pavilion doesn't cause too much trouble with raining. Well, rain actually was weakened by the time we walk around the Pavilion! Keihan Train took us to the Pavilion and brought us back from there. Everyone compared the Amida-house with the design on the Japanese 10 yen coin! 10 days left for the program! Oh, yes Japanese 1101 at COD has only 40 seats left (60 seats have been filled!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Floats Parade of Gion Fest in cool Kyoto! and to Tokyo!

Unlike recent years, Gion Festival Floats marching was under the cool cloudy day in Kyoto! This event is one of the best cultural events during the program and next one will be next week in Osaka Tenjin Festival! After dismissing during the Float Marching, those who are heading Tokyo gathered at Kyoto Station at night. GTS made sure everyone got on the night bus for Tokyo and two cell phones are handed over to the group. It has been confirmed that everyone on the bus safely arrived in Tokyo for this long weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Eikando-temple saved us from the rain!

After lunch around the academy, we took 30 min bus ride to get to Nyakuoji-Shrine and Eikando-temple. As soon as entering the main hall of Eikando, it began raining. While touring within the hall, rain added some nice mysterious feeling into the group. We found out what it was when we lost three students on the way back to the original bus stop we got off! Those three must have been turning left when we turned right! The rest of the group headed to Kyoto Handicraft Center where some bought Yukata for Gion Festival! Most of them will leave for Tokyo by night bus after Gion Festival and will be back early morning of Monday, the Ocean Day holiday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mt. Kurama was a piece of cake after Fushimi!

Everyone has learned from the previous day and tried to be stick together to wait for GTS and a little EMA coming down from the Mt. Kurama! The Eizan Train took us from Demachi St. to Kurama before climbing up to the Temple and walking down to another side of the mountain where Kifune Shrine holds the god of water! Hot and humid days continue!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine ate 4 students!

One of the most famous shrines in Japan welcomed us in a super hot day and the group were separated into two groups without intention. Yet, life went ON! Millions of Torii-gates and steps challenged us followed by the Higashiyama Mountain trail along with a small stream! It was the first pedestrian heaven night before the Gion Festival Float Marching (7/17). Students may enjoy these pedestrian heaven one of these three nights! Now all the floats are ready! Kurama-temple in the mountain is now waiting for us today!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monkey Park in super hot/humid day!

Everyone in the group is athletic so it shouldn't have any problem but one student's sandal broke and climbed up the mountain with bare foot! Incredible!! Monkeys are all enjoying swimming in the pond and food given by human being in the cage! Clear view of the city energized us and now it is just a middle day of the program! Gion festival is coming up and everyone is now getting ready for the last half of the summer program! So many Torii-gates at Fushimi Grand Shrine are now waiting for us today!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Deer welcomed us with the Giant Buddha!

Express bus from the school took us to Kyoto Station from which we left for Nara by Kintetsu Railway! One our train ride brought us to Nara Park and Todai-ji temple where great buddha was looking down on us! Super humid weather caused a lot of sweat while getting up to the Nigatsu-do (February Hall) and Shigatsu-do (April Hall). From the stage on the top of the hall, Nara-city including beautiful mountains were visible! On the way back at the Nara station, GTS bumped into his old friend, professor of Nara Women's University since the last meeting 20 over 20 years ago! GTS learned that another friend has just passed away b/o cancer!

Nishijin Txtile Kimono Fashion Show!

After lunch we had a long walk to the Nishijin Textile Center to see the Kimono Fashion show after which we dropped in 'Seimei Shrine' to examine Japanese exoticism. Though we all got purified, when we arrived at Nijo Castle, the main gate was closed and it said "Kyuu-joo-bi (Castle resting day)"! I did not realize that the castle could rest. If I were the anti-gov't samurai force, this day is the very day I should attack! Well, instead we quietly re-direct ourselves to Heian Jingu Shrine garden!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rainy day continues but better than too humid!

Daily schedule has been modified due to the weather last few days but actually a lot better than too many humid days! Arashiyama park and Tenryu-ji temple on Monday and Nishijin textile center on Tuesday were superb! As soon as we got to the textile center, the Kimono Fashion show began so elegantly. We walked to Nijo Castle which was unfortunately closed yesterday, so we went to Heian Jingu Shrine instead to enjoy the most beautiful garden! Our adventure continues!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

First full weekend for everyone!

While GTS is busy running around for many errands caused by the father's passing, every one in the program seems to begin oriented and enjoying the local life in Kyoto. The weather has been unexpectedly good for us, and we are not dying of the humidity yet! The Milky Way festival is coming up in a few days and all the Gion Festival floats are now ready! Some began eating soft serve every often!! I love 'athletic' students of this year and GTS is rather having difficulty with keeping up with everyone! What? Am I getting old? Yes, certainly I am!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tofukuji-temple visit for the first time in the program!

Two city buses took us to the south east side of Kyoto city where Tofukuji-temple and its garden spread! This is the first visit during this summer COD program which began in 1999. The nice weather (not humid! even breeze let us feel good!) Students are planning to go to Tokyo during the long weekend of 7/17 right after the Gion Festival. Their plan is leaving Kyoto for Tokyo by night bus on Friday and return in the same way on Sunday, so that they have enough resting time on Monday, the National Ocean Day! First weekend must excite everyone and GTS and Ema are heading to the Zoo, 3 minutes away from home!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Steep slope to Kiyomizu temple didn't kill anyone this year!

The bus took us to the Main torii-gate of Yasaka shrine where floats for Gion festival had been stored! Nice breeze helped everyone move forward to steep slope to the Kiyomizu temple! Superb view from the temple overwhelmed us and get us ready for tomorrow! Some directly go home, some went to the city center for shopping! GTS? huh! get back to see Ema and drink a can of KIRIN! Rain has been only during the night and day time so far is ideal for us!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Silver Pavilion in the muggy day!

The rainy season causes the muggy day on which everyone is suffering from the sweat! Yet, life goes on and we dismissed for lunch right in front of the hospital where GTS was born and fueled for walking up to the Silver Pavilion! Clear view from the eastern mountain in the garden of silver Pavilion energized everyone to walk along the Philosopher's Trail to get to the Bus stop. We will have a nice view from the south eastern mountain temple tomorrow! No one got sick nor tired from studying and walking! I love it!