I was fortunate enough to get a chance to participate in the Jenesys programme, which involved the ASEAN and Oceania countries and was held in Tokyo.
Jenesys stands for Japan East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths Subsidy Programme. It is organised by the Japanese government to diversify youth exchanges between Japan and other countries in the hopes of building strong ties.
Application was a breeze and I arrived in Tokyo in early December last year, with 18 other Singaporeans that had been selected to go for the trip.
We met the delegates from the other countries in Tokyo and then we were separated into our different groups to go to the different prefectures in Japan.
STUCK ON TOKYO: First group photo outside a shopping center in Tokyo
We first went to Shizuoka by bus. For lunch, we got to make our own Okonomiyaki, an omelette dish that was popular there.
After that, we went to one of the shrines in Shizuoka near Mount Fuji. It was very pretty, and the guide there explained to us the history behind it and some of the rituals at the shrine. The guide also explained about the Japanese belief of Shintoism, which was more a belief in the forces of nature.
STAY CALM AND PRAY ON: A Shinto shrine in Shizuoka
It was an amazing experience, because I finally got to see Mount Fuji up close, and why poets love it.
HEART-STOPPING: View of Mount Fuji from my hotel room
On we went, to Heda Island, where we had a short homestay in a private inn. Dinner was a meal fit for a king. We also experienced the public baths for the first time, which was embarrassing at first, we were all quite self-conscious but we decided to just try it since we were all there.
DINE LIKE A KING: Feast prepared by our host on Heda Island
When we went back to Tokyo, we all had to come up with vision boards of what we had experienced at the different prefectures, which was a good way to show the different colours and sights of Japan.
The trip was organised as a way to promote Japan and it definitely worked, because all of us who went had nothing but praise for Japan when we returned. The Japan are an extremely polite and conscientious people, and they are very considerate towards the environment.
They are all extremely punctual, and they explain everything and take care of all the small details when planning our itinerary. While Japan is known for having advanced technology, they are also still immersed in their roots, keeping to their traditions and culture from centuries ago.
HAPPY TOGETHER: Therese (third from left) with other delegates after their performance at the end of the Jenesys trip.
Written by Therese Morningstar Grosse,
Year 3, Diploma in Media & Communication