Last week three boys out of five from my Thursday night English class were absent. They are all 6th graders and their class went on a school excursion to Tokyo.
All schools in Japan arrange school excursions for the graduating classes. Most people in Japan have visited Nikko, the city where I live, at least once in their lives just because it is a main school excursion location with shrines, temples and hiking courses. However the schools in this area take their students to Kyoto (famous for temples), Hiroshima (famous for the peace park and atomic bomb museum) and Tokyo (famous for the Imperial grounds and surrounding metropolis.)
The school excursions are all overnight trips, with a whole tourist business developed around busing hundreds of students at a time to various places, feeding them and providing them sleeping facilities. Elementary students will have a two day-one night trip, Jr. high students go to places farther away for a two or three day trip, and depending on the high school, sometimes the excursion will be international travel! (think of the cost involved for the parents!)
My sixth graders went off to Tokyo on a bright sunny day and after a bus ride of a couple hours, arrived at a famous temple area. After touring that town they were bused to the Imperial grounds for a walk around the area and then they visited a TV studio. In the evening they took a buffet dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay. A dinner cruise! For 6th graders!!! I'd sure like to go on a dinner cruise!
The next day the students were taken to Tokyo Sky Tree! Sky Tree just opened last month and is the tallest broadcasting tower in the world. The waiting list to enter and ride to the top observation deck is booked for months! Yet somehow the school was able to make reservations for their 6th graders. Parents and people like me were drooling to think that 35 lucky children from our little town were going to get to go to the top of Sky Tree. Does the school need any extra chaperones?
My students seemed happy to have made the trip to Tokyo but they weren't as excited as I expected them to be. The greatest impression on them was the fun they had in the bus and playing UNO and other card games at night in the hotel...
But the children brought me and the other two 5th graders in our class, trinkets from the school excursion.
A little Maneki Neko (welcoming cat) bell, a cell phone strap that says "Traffic Safety" (someone was very clever to remember that I am also the crosswalk guard), another cell phone strap and a badge of some samurai (but no one knew who he was), a can of cookies from the TV studio and a post card of Sky Tree.
I am honored to think the boys remembered me during their school trip! I connected some of the cell phone straps and the bell to my crosswalk uniform this morning.
I want to go on a school trip!