The future starts today

Since having arrived home I have looked back incredibly deeply at my final days in Japan (inebtween sleeping and meeting friends and family eager to see me.)

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From riding commuter bikes through countryside with new friends, to dancing in an awa dance festival and the excitement of the closing ceremony, the last few days in Japan were definately some of the best. After the culture module was over, the last activity I took part in was calligraphy, before winding down, packing up, and attending the closing ceremony, an evening with such a beautiful sunset that it made us wonder whether god wanted to make the night even more emotional. With speeches from the UN executive and head of the scout association of Japan and performances by many great Japanese performers the closing ceremony was one to remember (even if the live feed was cut at the end due to the foul language of one act).

The next day we woke early and travelled to Tokushima. A beautiful city with ancient architecture and a modern city vibe, Tokushima city is an amazing place to be. We spent our first night in a hostel in Tokushima city and found ourselves on tatami mats in quintessential Japanese rooms with paper walls and shutters. That night was easily the most comfortable I had had for a very long time!

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The next morning we woke up and split into two groups, one with 9 girls and nine boys (group A) and my group, consisting of 18 boys (group B) group A left to explore a nearby mountain (named “the eyebrow mountain”) and try on some local clothes such as princesses kimonos and samurai armor. Group B left to Naruto city, of similar size to Leeds it is a bustling place and we joined some cyclists in its outskirts and rode a cycle route between sake and soy sauce factories and Meiji shrines and temples. It was a few small kilometres but on rickety old commuter bikes which we had been given, keeping your balance was hard enough!! It is fair to say that a lot of fun was had on the bikes, and everyone was ready for the hearty lunch we were given. After a short bus ride to the sea, we were prepared soben noodles fresh from a bamboo tube which you fished them out if as they were washed past on a wave of water. As well as the noodles, we were served sticky rice balls, pork with a spicy sauce and vegetables.

We all enjoyed a quick dip in the water (spotting lots of jellyfish) before it was time to go to our nights accommodation in Naruto.

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At around 7 that evening, we hopped into buses and cars which took us into central Naruto where we enjoyed the atmosphere of the awa odori dance festival there. We were given the best seating at the dance, but after a while decided instead to leave the seating and head into the streets before having a good attempt ourselves. I’m not sure how pleased the people who paid for good seats were! We were even on live TV!

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The next morning we were awakened by the sounds of children from a local primary school / daycare. They all wanted to play games with us and were, like most kids, incredibly active. After playing games of duck duck goose and ladders (in Japanese and English) we had to say goodbye to our newfound friends. After a quick speech by the mayor and tour of the prefectural offices, we left Tokushima, and Japan, travelling for 35 hours to finally reach home, and our own beds, and natural air con.
I’ll never forget the experiences of Japan and I hope someday to return to the beautiful country that I left just one week ago.

Nearly over :(

Having just returned to the uk, and writing the last of my “jamboree” posts, I noticed this post hadn’t posted :/ the wonders of japanese wifi! Anyhow, here it is now! The cultural exchange day that I talked about in my last blog was brilliant, we made Yorkshire tea, puddings and gravy to give to the other scouts and went to other units to experience; amongst others, Swedish, American and Brazilian life. After a quick siesta in the afternoon (a well deserved sleep) we left for a show in which there were famous Japanese bands and performers, the Japanese prime minister and a Japanese prince, as well as an aerobatic performance by a red bull air race pilot.

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The next day we spent a half day in the science village where we learnt, in small groups to program robots, make solar cars and rode segways, all with practical benefits like: cutting traffic, becoming more eco-friendly and exploring distant planets.

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After science, we were assigned a place to take part in our nature day, after the walk had been cancelled for safety reasons due to the heat, we travelled to mine again, this time as a whole unit, it was enjoyable to just wander through the caves without taking photos, and just to take in the amazing sights!

Yesterday, we took part in some amazing water activities, we had water fights, swam in open water and played beach volleyball, all topped off with the discovery of a Finnish sauna, in Japan!! The sauna, (reaching up to 90 degrees) consisted of hot coals which you chuck water onto to increase humidity. After sweating off all the rubbish in my skin which I had built up over the weeks, we invited a Japanese unit for entertainment and shared amazing stories of home.

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This morning is a free morning before we go to learn about culture and religion. Hopefully it will be an inciteful experience; the last organised activity if my first jamboree, but with talk of volunteering for America 2019, maybe not my last!

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Jamboree life

Having arrived on site, we have been incredibly busy, hence the reason this post is so late! I will post more often in future!

In the last few days I have come to realise that Tokyo was cold! Apparently even the Japanese call this a heatwave! 50 degrees centigrade was measured yesterday.

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I have, however acclimatised quite well, drinking lots of pocari sweat (yes, that’s right. Google it now!) We have spent our days enjoying the opening ceremony and a trip to Hiroshima, it was a beautiful city which showed the resilience of the Japanese people. After a moving trip to the museum there, our group placed the 1000 cranes we had made, in memory of the children who died in the bombing, we were given time to wander the incredible gardens, a relaxing way to collect our thoughts on the city’s sad story.

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Yesterday, we took part in the global development village, choosing to learn about sustainable cities and child labour. The way in which the information was given to us; in games and conversation, were ingenious and  helpful.

This morning, we got up early. Early enough to leave at 7 for a trip to the township of Mine (me-nay). After an introduction by the mayor and the bands of local schools, we went to a local primary school to learn origami and take part in a tea ceremony with the children. A nearby cave provided an hours entertainment, walking through the cavernous halls and atmospheric lighting.

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Tommorow the whole camp takes part in a cultural exchange day.

Tokyo

It is incredible here in Japan, the heat, culture and foods are amazing, if slightly difficult to understand. It’s been a busy few days and I write this on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kirara Hama for the jamboree as it is my first chance for wifi.

Tokyo has been an incredible experience, buying gifts in an ancient market and being raised to the top of modern towers all in a city of parks and tarmac.

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One of the most surprising experiences was at 11 in the evening, when 6 jet-lagged scouts had just seen an immense fireworks display, and decided not to go to MacDonald’s or a 7-11 but a small family run restaurant in a back street. Not speaking English, the single waitress served us with hand gestures and after choosing 6 courses at random we were served beef, duck, eel, pork and possibly chicken in various delicious combinations, all were scoffed rapidly by the tables guests.

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This success gave the whole group new confidence to experience the “tokyoans Tokyo” eating in cheap restaurants in backstreets and using the public transport, experiencing some great moments, like a beach discovered at sunset and relaxing in the shade in Ueno Park.

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I’ve got to leave now, but with a wifi dongle nearby, it won’t be long till my next post!

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I’m finally going!!!

After all these months of excitement and fundraising, preparation and camping, we’re finally here! I (hopefully) have everything packed.

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I haven’t even forgotten anything which is a miracle and its just under the allowed weight (thank God!).

What is left to do is to thank all those who have supported me in the adventure so far, and to go out and enjoy the adventure to come, sharing my experiences with you on the way!

7 days to go!!!!!!!!

With 7 days to go, I apologise for the lateness of my post; I have been incredibly busy preparing all of my kit for the trip to Japan!

Since the last amazing training camp, I have prepared the speech and business cards which we learnt about, and have frantically been finding all of the equipment that I have realised I do not have! At the camp, we practiced taking group photos, singing local tunes as entertainment, and making Japanese peace cranes. We were given a countdown calendar for the last 25 days, from which we were asked to make 25 cranes to take with us so that each unit would have another 1,000 to take to the peace memorial in Hiroshima. I’m not sure if it’s really so close to the event, and have to keep pinching myself to check that it is real!

In other news, our travel details have been confirmed and we will begin by taking a trip on the Wensleydale railway then spend the night in Bedale before an extremely early start to get to Manchester airport. From there we fly to Abu Dhabi before a connecting flight to Tokyo – Nagoya airport. I can’t wait to experience the sights and sounds of Tokyo after so long in a small, sterile metal tube! In fact, I can’t wait – full stop! To meet so many new people, in such a new place so far away, and to experience so many totally different cultures.

I hope to keep up with my blog whilst I am away to share some of the experiences I will be having. I hope you will follow my journey along with me!

 

Duck race v2.0

Today, we reach one month to go (see countdown), amazing, since one year ago (the last duck race) feels to have been yesterday! Time has flown, almost as far as we will fly in one month’s time!

At the weekend, unit 48 held a second duck race, almost exactly one year since the previous race. Having sold most of the 1000 ducks, it was finally time for the race, seeing the yellow ducks bobbing down stream was an amazing sight and every one enjoyed the day, even the 15,000 bikers that came to Helmsley on BikeFest!

 

 

The 12 stages of 40 days

Recently, the 40 days mark until we fly was passed, this represents the last 12 stages…

Stage 1: Have I got everything?!

Stage 2: No I Don’t!!!

Stage 3: Amazon, Go Outdoors, and any other shop that may possibly sell a decent size micro-fibre towel or shoes that fit your awkward feet and the environment you are headed for.

Stage 4: Basically another stage 1 in which you realise that you have actually missed something really important off of the original list and must now repeat the whole process even more frantically than before as you find even more impossible items, like folding chopsticks with a short delivery time, or some way of storing valuables safely…

Stage 5: (To be ignored by scout(s)) PARENT: “What will I do for 3 weeks?” “How will I cope?”

Stage 6: Packing, the moment when you think, I’m sure I imagined that bag being fuller?

Stage 7: Is fuller even a word?

Stage 8: Check the dictionary to find out if fuller is actually a word.

Stage 9: Realise that you have actually become greatly sidetracked and so must now return to whichever job you were meant to have finished an hour ago.

Stage 10: Finally finish the required jobs.

Stage 11: Attempt (in vain) to make yourself fit the slightly large uniform.

Stage 12: Countdown to the Jamboree with the unit 48 countdown made by unit members (see if you can spot my number!) Countdown

We Have KIT!!!

cat and hatA few days ago we received our issued UK Contingent kit. With huge hats and water bottles, I don’t know how we’ll fit our stuff into the bags we have received! No sooner had they been delivered but my things were attracting a lot of attention, my mum was working out how to shorten my shorts and my cat was busy stealing my hat!

I can’t wait to get wearing the kit in the Japanese sun, but was even more excited for our unit day on Saturday. On the day of the Tour de Yorkshire we were in York completing challenges, such as teaching a member of the public (or – as we chose – a Disney store worker / Jedi knight!) how to make an origami crane and giving gifts to shops. Betty’s and Millets were very happy to receive a unit badge and I hope they will now be proudly displayed in their windows – I’ll be checking next time I’m in town!

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It was great to be in York on the day of the Tour de Yorkshire, we had incredible fun and experienced near Tokyo level crowds! After we had finished our delicious Wagamama’s meal (getting in practice), a few of us stayed to see the amazing Yamato drummers of Japan, they were incredible and kept us in awe.

Unit 95 (47+48) Get together, and a rather belated post!

As I began to write a post about a unit 48-47 get together at flamingo land, I found this un-posted post, (I had forgotten to post it!) so I decided to post it first, and then write the post i was about to write anyway, so here it is:

Last weekend Unit 48 met up at Birch Hall Camp Site where we slept in the shelters provided (we didn’t camp). To be honest, sleeping in the shelters was a great idea because it was (and no longer is) February! And to all the scouts or ex-scouts who may be reading this you will know that February is not a good time to camp. Having packed lightly (considering the time of year) we all met up at the site near Scarborough. The site however, could have been on another planet as it was surrounded by hills and trees, and miles from the nearest civilisation.

On the Friday night we played a game of Tokyopoly (designed to show us the different places we might choose to go in Tokyo) and from that, I merely realised that I wanted to see a lot more than 3 days might allow!!! Our meals at the weekend were designed like those at the Jamboree. High in carbohydrates and salt for replacing energy and minerals lost over the day. And with few perishables in the high (and at this point un-imaginable) heat. It wasn’t easy but I managed to eat enough of the strange combinations! (including Jelly with chopsticks…)

The weekend was mainly activity based, with patrol entertainment, health, Hiroshima, sewing, cooking and baggage all on the agenda; It all seems to become more real each day as we get closer and closer to the opening ceremony! One of the areas that Unit 48 can do very well is entertainment, with a new dance to ‘Uptown funk’ being thought up in the space of a day! Most importantly of all, we’re all HAPPY!

So as I was saying before I discovered my forgetfulness, unit 47 and unit 48 met up at flamingo land last weekend. It was raining so heavily that people must have thought we were stupid! (And hence there were no queues!) We all enjoyed the rides and it was even better to have it as a second get together with our south Yorkshire counterparts. Although it was cold and wet, we went home excited and slightly queasy!