Unforgettable Trip to Japan
Contributed in Aug, 2008

This 14-day tour of Japan opened my eyes to the multi-faceted aspects of Japanese life and provided me with a myriad of experiences. Most Singaporeans would imagine Japan as a modern and fast-paced society that has been the world leader in the automobile and technology arena. However, this trip allowed me to see the traditional side of the country where modernity is put aside and the rich Japanese traditions and culture continue to be an important part of the people’s lives. When I traveled from the big cities of Tokyo and Hiroshima to the small town of Hanamaki in Iwate prefecture, I felt transported back in time. The homestay with Mr and Mrs Takahashi was indeed very enjoyable. At night I slept on the futon and our meals were cooked in the Japanese traditional style. Even the vegetables that I ate were handpicked by me and my team-mates at the vegetable garden just outside the house. The homestay was truly an unforgettable experience for a city-girl like me.

Needless to say, the main highlight of the tour was the visits to the various institutes of education. I was very impressed by the wide variety of courses offered to the students, especially when they reach senior high. The ability to specialize in sports, music, fine arts, and even foreign languages allows students to excel in their different fields of interests and talent. In addition, the schools that I visited have a very small enrolment as compared to most schools in Singapore. I am very envious of this aspect of the Japanese schools as it gives a homely feeling for both teachers and students, and it allows more interaction between them. Lastly, all of the educators in this trip were truly impressed by the work of the Special Assistance Schools in Japan. The care and concern provided to the students in need of special care was truly amazing. This is an aspect I feel all countries around the world can learn from Japan.

In conclusion, I am truly grateful for this terrific opportunity provided by the Japan Foundation for me to experience a different Japan. I am also truly enriched by the opportunity to meet other educators from 23 different countries and the exchanges we had about our own country and work throughout the entire trip. There are many unforgettable moments that would stay with me forever.