Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: Gavin Malzahn, 9, and his family, of Fairfax
Where, when, why: My family and I went to Japan for 15 days in June and July. We went because my sister and I are in the Japanese immersion program at Fox Mill Elementary School. The whole family spent time in Tokyo, but I went to Funabashi to visit my friend Haru. We became good friends in first grade, then he moved back to Japan. I spent two nights at his house and also went to school with him one day. We also went to Nagoya because we have a “sister,” Juri, who lives there. She was an exchange student who stayed with us in the summers of 2010 and 2011.
Highlights and high points: My favorite parts of the trip were Kyoto Studio Park (Toei Uzumasa Eigamura) in Kyoto, the Koga Ninja House in Koka and the Ninja Village in Koka. I got a ninja suit! There was a ninja training course called a dojo. In the dojo, we “walked” on water.
Cultural connection or disconnect: We met some university students from the Good Samaritan Club in Kyoto. They asked us if we wanted to go to a matsuri. I knew that a matsuri was a festival because we have one at our school, too. We played games and won lots of prizes. Our school doesn’t have food for prizes, but they do in Japan.
Biggest laugh or cry: My exchange student’s brother made me laugh the most. He didn’t know English and I don’t know Japanese that well, so we used hand signals. I also laughed a lot when he was dancing. He had earphones on, but they weren’t plugged into anything. Most people thought he was listening to music.
How unexpected: At school in Japan, they can bring in their pets — only their lizards and crabs. They can play with the pets between classes. Also, the kids have to clean the classroom. Some of the kids have to clean the bathroom! Gross!
I didn’t know that they ate so much fish. There were a lot of shops at the fish market in Tokyo. I saw a huge crab about as big as my head.
Fondest memento or memory: I got a good-luck charm with seven lucky gods hanging on it. One is for good health and another is for music and beauty. There are also the gods of earth, ocean, happiness, wealth and wisdom.