We left the National Olympic Memorial Youth Center where we have been staying for the past few weeks and set out for our excursion to Yamanashi.
One of our first stops was to an authentic Japanese restaurant where we ate hoūtoū, a food style unique to Yamanashi. After we finished eating, we spent a few minutes enjoying the outside scenery and then left for our next location, the Yamanashi Prefectural Maglev Exhibition Center. Maglev trains rely on magnetic technology which allows them to levitate and travel at speeds of over 370 mph (595 kph). We were able to watch two Maglev trains speedily appear right before our eyes. After spending a little more time exploring the exhibition center together, we made our way over to the ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) where we would be spending the next few days.
After getting situated in our new rooms, some students decided to spend the sizzling hot Yamanashi summer day in the pool of the ryokan. When everyone had a chance to cool down and unwind, we experienced kaisekiryōuri (a traditional Japanese meal brought out in courses) together for the first time. For the remainder of the night, we enjoyed each other’s company with karaoke performances before some students dipped into the onsen prior to going to sleep on the futons prepared in our tatami rooms.
When we woke up for day two of our Yamanashi adventure, we had breakfast and a little fun in the arcade of the ryokan. We then hopped on the bus and traveled to our first destination of the day, a mochi production factory. We learned the process involved in making mochi and practiced mochi treat wrapping before exploring more of the factory and the mochi gift store.
When we returned to our bus, our tour guides taught us more about Japan’s history on our way to a soba making facility. We learned about both the process and effort involved in making soba. We used our new knowledge to make soba with our partners. We enjoyed eating our soba creations along with our grilled Japanese meal. We also got a chance to burn off what we ate with a hiking trip in Kofu-Shi.
When we returned to our ryokan later in the evening, we were ready for our second round of kaisekiryōuri. After dinner, we made our last night in Yamanashi even more memorable with new karaoke performances and entertainment that included K-Pop inspired dancing, displays of super-human strength, and stand-up-comedy.