D6 – Kyoto Exchange – Classtime

I woke the next morning to rain off my balcony. And the temperature had definitely dropped from the previous days into the upper 60’s.

Today was the day that the students were spending the morning attending classes with the Kyoto students. We would then go later in the day to a temple and learn how to meditate.

My walk to the school this morning was a wet one. Thankfully I had brought a lightweight outer shell that I usually use when hiking. It kept me very dry and cool during my walk to the school.


I saw another uniquely decorated flat on my way to school that morning with some nice pots and bikes out at the curb. In California it’s unlikely any of these plants would last a single night out like this. And the bikes were not locked! It’s amazing what you can do with a public space when people have respect for personal property.

I finally got to the school and saw all the students running to school with their umbrellas.

As I had seen every morning, the principal Mr. Sasai was out with his umbrella greeting the students as they arrived at school.

Another example of premium space can be seen in the teacher offices, or lack thereof. All of the teachers are in a single room with rows of desks. They each have a very small and basic metal desk that delineates their work space. There’s only enough space to walk between the desk rows, no more.  There are a number of foreign teachers at Kyoto Gakuen and some of them tack their country’s flag above their desks in this office.

Mr. Kuromiya had a desk that was set off by itself at the other end of the room with some cabinets behind it, as did a few of the other directors and vice principal. The only person with a private office was Mr. Sasai the principal. He also had a very nice sitting area in his office to accomodate guests.

This morning the students were trickling in like rain from the sky, very slowly. Everyone was experiencing public transportation in the rain, along with all the delays that came with it. They gathered in the café as they did every morning and tried to dry out before classes started.

Our first class of the day was Japanese calligraphy. We were taught some basic scripts and then given supplies to make some scrolls to take home with us. The class was over far too quickly.  I had wished we had more time to do our scrolls.  I now have mine hanging in my office at work.

After this class we split up and the students and they went to different classes. All were expected to participate, and several had to speak to their classes about their experiences on this trip and about back home. Other Kyoto students shared stories from their visit to Modesto last year for summer school/

In this class they were playing a card game that required the use of English. Some of the students needed to use translators.

And some were sharing tips as they learned the game.

In another classroom down the hall each of the students were sharing stories about themselves and their homes back in California.

In this class one Kyoto student stood up and told a story from his trip to Modesto.  He was larger and taller than most all of the other students.  He said that what he liked most about America was that he could go into any clothing store and find things that fit him.  He said that there was so much to choose from and so many styles.  He said when he was in America he felt normal, something he did not feel in Japan.  I was a bit saddened by this story, but it did shed some light on Japanese culture and clothing.

Here is a shot of the entry for the Gym. You can see the area where people have to remove their shoes. You take your shoes off on the tile, step onto the wood, and then take out a pair of indoor shoes/slippers and put in your shoes. On this day many were left on the tile as they were wet.

Five of the students had martial arts training and were allowed to participate in a Judo class in the Dojo. I think the Kyoto students were a bit surprised when one of the Modesto girls stepped forward and suited up for class. 

Others watched on from the sideslines as the exercises and stretching started the class.

This was a full contact exercise, and the students got to go through all the drills with the Kyoto students. They were even allowed to practice some throws with the Kyoto students.

While all of this was going on, the rest of the students were downstairs playing dodge ball.

My son Corey snuck off and saw the PacRimX Second Life computer lab. We had always seen it through the lens of the video conferences. It was pretty cool to finally be on the other side of the lens.

Here the two of us pose in front of the wall in the lab.  Pictures from the islands over the past few years adorn the walls along with copies of media stories about the PacRimX project.  The morning drew to an end and we had to get ready to hop a bus and head for our meditation session.


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