This is a translation of the speech I gave on January 21st to my host club. It took about 3 hours to write, but only lasted 10 minutes in Japanese. Oh well.
It has been exactly 5 months since I arrived in Japan! Time sure went by fast! Since it has been a while since my last speech, I want to share my experience of my school trip and New Years.
First, I will talk about my school trip. Although it was a while ago, I can still remember quite well.
On November 24, we set off for Tokyo. From there, we took a plane to Nagasaki.
The second day we spent touring Nagasaki. First we went to the Peace Park and saw an interesting statue. We donated the origami cranes we had made before the trip and then headed to the atomic bomb memorial. One of the survivors gave a very sad testimony and I thought, `it would be good if we never have to face such a tragedy ever again`. After that, we went to Glover Garden, where I looked for heart stones. There is a legend that if you can find all three heart stones, you will become happy. As Ursula is a Catholic school, we also visited some historic Catholic churches in Nagasaki. I thought that they looked a bit like European churches. During our free time, I went with my friends and bought tons of castella, a specialty of Nagasaki. We climbed to the top of the Hollander slope and then went to Nagasaki`s Chinatown.
The next day we took a plane back to Honshu and then got on a bus to Kyoto. We first visited Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion). Since the leaves had turned to autumn colors, I was able to take many beautiful pictures. Next, we went to Nijo Castle. When I walked in the hallway, I could hear the floorboards creaking. This was designed as a precaution against intruders. At Sanjūsangen-dō I looked for the statue with my own face but unfortunately, I was unable to find it. The last place we went was Kiyomizu Temple. I drank from the stream that supposedly improves your knowledge, however, I feel no smarter. I don`t have any confidence that I will pass my upcoming kanji exam (passed!). As I find Japanese history to be very interesting, I had a great experience in Kyoto.
The fourth day, we went to Nara. Playing with the deer at Nara Koen was the best part of my whole trip. If you didn`t feed them, they would nibble your clothes until you gave them a rice cracker. We then went to the temple and I saw a huge Buddha statue and thought to myself, “Wow! Japan is, as expected, amazing.” Next we listened to a talk given by a monk at Yakushi Temple. Even though I couldn`t really understand him, I still found it interesting. For dinner, we took a bus to Osaka Castle Park, where I skillfully made takoyaki, a specialty of Osaka.
We spent all of the next day at Universal Studios Japan. I rode the roller coaster three times and had a lot of fun playing with my friends.
On the sixth day, we returned back to Hachinohe. As we had gone to so many places in such a short time, we were always being rushed. When I am able to go again, I defiantly want to be able to take my time and see everything.
The next thing I want to talk about is my experience of the New Year. On December 23, my host sister returned home from Sendai. Christmas was spent eating Christmas cake with 6 people and 5 dogs. On the 28th I went with her to the local temple where we made mochi. The mallet was very heavy but after making 7 batches, I got to be pretty good at pounding the rice. I also went to a mochitsuki at my host brother`s middle school. Out of all the students, he was the most lively when it was his turn to pound the mochi. My host sister spent the New Year working at a local shrine. One night, she let me try on her uniform.
On the 31st we were invited to ring the bell at the same temple where we had made the mochi. As we were ringing it, it turned to the New Year and so we headed over to my host sister`s shrine. I drew an omikuji but it was only regular blessing. It`s too bad that I didn`t get great blessing. We bought protection charms and then headed back home. Before going to the temple, my host father had watched a 24 hour comedy show on TV, when I had really wanted to watch kohaku. Please don`t tell him I said that.
Thanks for listening!