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After placing fifth in Washington D.C.’s Japan Bowl Competition this spring, students Hannah Lee, Anna Nowogorski, and Adriana Allen recently enjoyed their victory prize: a trip to Japan.
During the trip, which took place from August 3 – August 11, the students spent most of their time in Tokyo and Hiroshima. They made many courtesy calls to high-ranking officials such as Princess Takamado and Caroline Kennedy, who is the U.S ambassador to Japan. They also visited the foreign ministry of affairs, the American embassy, and the ministry of education.
Daily activities included touring big attractions like the Kintai Bridge, the Hiroshima Castle, and the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima Island.
“We participated in the floating lanterns [at Hiroshima Castle] where we wrote peace messages and prayers on paper lanterns and floated them down a river,” explained Anna.
Students also stayed with a host family in Kumano for three days.
Hannah recalled that her host family took her to a traditional Japanese Drum practice and Bon Festival, stating “ [that was] my favorite part because we wore a yukata (a type of kimono).”
Anna stated, “The host family was my favorite part of the trip. I was able to become a lot more comfortable using my Japanese skills. I already knew a lot about Japanese culture and daily customs, but I didn’t know the extent of how prevalent they were in Japanese life.”
The Japan Bowl competition that led to their trip took place in Washington D.C on April 15, 2015. It included a conversational round that tested the participants’ ability to speak in Japanese and two preliminary question rounds with topics that varied from history, art, pop culture, geography, current events, and grammar.
With Japanese teacher Dr. Mariko Sato’s help, students felt prepared for the competition. Hannah mentioned, “Dr. Sato helped prepare study materials and quizzes. She would make sure that we were up to date with our studies and that we were actually retaining the things we were studying.” The Kakashi Project funds the bowl and trip in an effort to help foster an understanding of Japanese culture and language along with Japan’s relationship with the United States.