By Dominique Thomason
Traveling to Japan with our 8th grade students was an incredible experience that exposed us to the rich culture, traditions, and vibrant city life of this fascinating country. From enjoying a traditional tempura dinner to witnessing awe-inspiring ceremonies at the Meiji Shrine, our journey was filled with unforgettable moments and a deeper appreciation for Japan’s heritage.
1. Tempura Dinner and First Impressions
Upon landing in Japan, we wasted no time immersing ourselves in the local cuisine and traditions. Our first evening began with a traditional tempura-style dinner, where we relished delicious miso soup, fried shrimp, and crispy fried veggies. Sitting on Zabuton cushions directly on the floor, we felt a sense of authenticity that set the tone for our adventure. En route to dinner, we marveled at picturesque rice fields and caught a glimpse of the Tokyo Skytree tower in the distance, marking the start of our exploration.
2. Senso-ji Temple and Tokyo Skytree
After dinner, we made a quick stop in front of the magnificent Senso-ji Temple, a symbol of Tokyo’s cultural heritage. Its grandeur and historical significance left us in awe, and we captured the moment with photographs. Our journey then took us to the modern marvel, Tokyo Skytree tower. As we ascended through different elevations, the panoramic view of the cityscape below was simply breathtaking. Standing at such heights, we marveled at the vastness and vibrancy of Tokyo.
3. Imperial Palace Gardens and Meiji Shrine
The following day, we ventured to the serene Imperial Palace Gardens, where ancient stone walls and beautiful floral paths showcased the meticulous craftsmanship of a bygone era. Our knowledgeable tour guide enlightened us on the labor-intensive construction of these walls, highlighting the dedication and skill of past generations. Later, we visited a mall that housed a Pokemon Center, igniting the students’ excitement. The opportunity for some extra shopping added to the thrill of the day.
Next on our itinerary was the iconic Meiji Shrine, where we felt a profound connection with Japanese culture. Surrounded by towering trees and following a clear pathway, we encountered a large torii gate, a sacred symbol marking the entrance. Respectfully, we removed our hats, bowed, and entered this spiritual haven. The ethereal ambiance intensified as we witnessed a ceremonial event, immersing ourselves in the chants, rhythms of drums, and the sight of Shinto priests in their traditional attire. Though photography was prohibited, the memory of this experience remains etched in our hearts.
4. Harajuku and Shibuya Crossing
Our exploration continued in Harajuku, a district known for its colorful street art, vibrant fashion, and unique boutiques. The students were captivated by the blend of quirky vintage stores and cosplay shops, which allowed them to embrace their individuality and develop their own sense of style. From there, we moved to the iconic Shibuya Crossing, a symbol of Tokyo’s fast-paced lifestyle. Crossing the intersection with up to 2,500 people was an exhilarating experience. Seeking a higher vantage point, we retreated to a nearby building, overlooking the bustling crossing—a sight to behold.
5. Final Reflections and Farewell
As our time in Japan drew to a close, we had a final opportunity to explore the vicinity around our hotel. Visiting local establishments such as the Japan 7-11, Starbucks, and even a grocery store, we embraced the everyday charm of Japanese life. A peaceful walk through the nearby gardens allowed us to soak in the tranquility and reflect on the memories.
About Dominique Thomason
With three years of experience at Third Future Schools, Dominique Thomason serves as the DYAD Manager and coordinates hands-on learning experiences as the DYAD Coordinator at Ector College Prep. He is passionate about empowering students and driving innovation in education.
Where will Dyad go next?
Stay tuned for 2023 – 2024 travel updates from Third Future Schools.