Into The Land Of The Rising Sun; MHS Students Travel To Japan


By Christian Lum
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(Photo courtesy of Isaiah Lopez (12)) Students were able to indulge in traditional Japanese architecture, including that of the Great Buddha Temple in the prefecture of Nara.

Over spring break, a group of 18 MHS students got the opportunity to experience Japanese culture first hand, taking a nine-day trip to Japan, where they visited numerous shrines, ate traditional Japanese street food, shopped in the Ginza district and much more. The trip was an opportunity for students to learn to appreciate Japanese culture, thus practicing their world learning and understanding skills.

 “When you talk about things like culture and viewing the world as a global learner, those kind of things are really big and huge topics. Being able to go to a country outside of your own and putting your feet down, hearing the sounds, the people, the smells of a different country, it is amazing and awe-inspiring and makes book learning and learning from a video, TV show or anything like that come to life,” said group leader Ruth Ravina-Koethe.

While in Japan, the students were able to fully experience the local culture and explore several world-famous landmarks. “Some of the activities that (we) did over there was that we went to some shrines and temples. We saw a Great Buddha at one of the shrines and we also got to see a castle. Inside the castle were some really beautiful far eastern Japanese paintings on the wall and on the Shoji doors,” stated Ravina-Koethe. “We still got to ‘eat the street’ kind of thing where there was a lot of vendors and things like that, but that was my (favorite) day because we got to see Mount Fuji. That was very breathtaking and inspiring.”

Coming from Hawaii, a place surrounded with Japanese culture, many of the students had prior knowledge of the foods and traditions in Japan. “Some of the cultural things that the students really enjoyed from Japan were the anime, the technology, the food and the overall culture from Japan, being that we are from Hawaii there is a lot of Japanese culture here already,” stated Ravina-Koethe.

For all the cultural similarities between Hawaii and Japan, students were still surprised by many other aspects that Japan had to offer. “The things I liked cultural wise would be how fashion is so different there than it is down here (in Hawaii), also how different cities (are) for different people. You got places for people into anime, electronics, (fashion), etc. In America we do have a lot of Japanese foods and a large following for Japanese clothing brands, for example Uniqlo and Bape. Japan also has more exclusive products at different store locations throughout Japan,” Senior Connor Shirokane said.

In Japan, the MHS students strengthened the bonds between themselves, while also making connections with students from other schools. “It (brought) us closer together because in the beginning we didn’t really know each other, but by the end we got pretty close and we still talk,” said Senior Isaiah Lopez. “We met up with a group from New Mexico and from the Big Island, and our small team with 18 students connected with another 18 students from New Mexico, and a smaller group from the Big Island and Kauai. When you put all of us together you get this gigantic group of people wanting to learn about Japan,” Ravina-Koethe stated. “Sometimes we shared hotel rooms, (bus and tour director, so) we walked around together. The students intermingled and we ate together, we sat on tables and we ate on Tatami mats and intermixed. Sometimes when you get on the bus the only seat left was next to someone from New Mexico or Kauai and you end up sitting there and meeting new people. New friendships were made.”

Students and the chaperones alike were enamored with both the people from Japan and its many cultures and traditions. Most of them are already planning their next trip back.