by April Hall, Grade 12
Last week, the AP Japanese 12 class took a field trip to Vancouver. We all rolled out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to begin our adventure. None of us knew what to expect as we stood outside the Vancouver Japanese Language School/ Japanese Hall in the warehouse area on West Hastings St. A little voice came over the intercom, and to our surprise, started rattling away in fluent Japanese to Thumm Sensei. The same voice rescued us from the morning cold and buzzed us into the modest building. Right away, Japanese culture immersion began.
Our first activity was chado, the art of Japanese tea ceremony. Highly experienced ladies in kimono showed us all the intricate rituals surrounding the traditional tea service; it even matters how you walk out of the room! Like any great workshop, there was food too. We were all treated to a cup of macha green tea and a red bean sweet.
Next, we were ushered into the calligraphy classroom, where we impressed the sensei with our sound mastery of kanji (the Chinese ideograms used in Japanese). By “sound mastery”, I mean that we can write our names. After witnessing firsthand the amazing strength needed to compete in kyudo (Japanese longbow archery), we watched a lovely traditional dance performed by one of the organizers. She then taught us a folk dance, albeit a much simpler one. Finally, we suited up in yukata (Japanese summer kimono) and sang a song that made us nostalgic for primary school all over again.
After a busy morning at the Hall, the last thing to do was eat some Japanese food. We found the perfect spot downtown, and we gushed about how much fun we had as we munched our sushi and miso soup. Just in case my Japanese day couldn’t get any better, Thumm Sensei and I managed to snag the last “coffee jelly” dessert they had left. Oishiii!