Greetings from Japan...

Published on Thu, Feb 13, 2003
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Greetings from Japan...

Thirty seven members of the Blaine high school wind ensemble and five adult chaperones are winding up their two-week trip to perform in Japan. Here’s a taste of how it’s going.

The following two emails were received by Nancy Hamburg from the host family of her two sons, Glen and Chris.

Good Evening.
They are very fine. Today they practiced very hard for tomorrow’s concert.
As we had our niece’s wedding ceremony, I had no time to cook dinner. So, we ate out. I’m surprised to see them use chopsticks well.
They are always smiling, which makes us very happy. They are really good boys. We have a daughter and two sons, but my sons are not better than yours.
My elder son studies abroad in London. When he left Japan, I missed him. So I know how you are feeling now. We are looking forward to their performance tomorrow. I’m sure it will be very excellent.
I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.
Teiko Okada

We are still moved.
Today’s concert was beyond description.
During their performance, we were gazing at Glen and Chris.
If you had been there, you would have been proud of your sons. They played happily from the bottom of heart.
Their music reminded us of our old tradition which most Japanese are forgetting. Though Japanese elementary school students can’t understand English, they can communicate with Blaine high school students. Music is universal!
At finale, both Glen and Chris enjoyed Japanese folk dance and sweated. The sight was heartwarming. Your boys are fine today.
Good night.
Teiko Okada

Jack Freal sent this message to his parents Marilyn and John Freal.
Hi mom and dad!
Sorry that I haven’t emailed you back till now. We have been so busy. The host family is great. They are all so nice and eager to assist us in any way possible. Yuta speaks the best English out of all of them. He’s really cool. We’ve gone out at night a few times with him on the train. It’s been fun with him showing us around. He is really helpful in trying to find Kit and me a CD player. They are all so helpful.
The food has been great. There have been a few things that I didn’t like too much, but for the most part, it has all been great.
The plane ride over here was very, very, very long. Everyone got really excited as we finally saw land as we got to Japan. Everyone was smiling. Our flight had been delayed so we were late getting to city hall. We were greeted by the mayor and we met our host family there. We came home that night and ate dinner and then collapsed. It was nice to get some sleep.
They have the most comfortable blankets and pillows, one hardly notices that it’s the floor we are sleeping on.
The next morning we went and saw a temple and shopping district. We got there by train. It’s amazing how many people they can cram into those things. It’s chaos all around in the station. Literally thousands of people are going in all directions around you. It’s so disorienting that it is very easy to lose sight of your leader. It was a lot of fun. Then we went to Funabashi high school where we played with the band there. It was a lot of fun interacting with them, despite the language barrier. They are a really good band. It was very impressive to hear them. After the mini-concert, they taught us a dance in the gym . I tried my best to keep up, but my leg was really hurting so I had to stop. I just watched the rest as they learned it. It was still entertaining, nonetheless. That night we went with Yuta. We came back and fell asleep right away.
The next day we had to get up really early so we could get to Disneyland on time. We actually ended up being early which is quite an accomplishment. We had to wait around till 10:30 which was when we played. I didn’t really like our performance. Our host mom showed up to film us (in fact, they are watching the tape right now as I type this email). The rest of the day we had free time to wander the park till 6 in the evening. It was a lot of fun. Today we got up a little late so we had to hurry pretty fast. We still managed to get to the train station early. Many, many people were late this morning. We got on a train for 30 minutes and then got on another one for 40 minutes to get to Takawadai high school. We had so much fun interacting with the kids. We played many games with them. After a full day with them, we got back on the train to go to the arena to practice. After a long rehearsal, we finally got to go home. We had a great dinner tonight. I ate everything.
Anyway, I’m exhausted so I’m going to hit the hay. I’ll try and email you if I have time later this week. Hope you are well.

Chaperone and trip fundraising dynamo Leslee Smith sent this report home.
Steve and Jennie,
Things are great here in Japan! Yesterday (Friday) the kids performed at Disneyland and we spent the afternoon running around Disneyland on rides and shopping. Maryanne Jorgensen (Jim’s daughter) and her daughter who is four, met us there and it was so fun to see someone from Blaine. The kids played really well and were a big hit at Disneyland!
After we got back to the hotel Anne and I were starving so we went out for dinner on our own. We went to a place where they spoke no English and had no English on the menu. We had to use our translation books and did fairly well and had a great dinner! We cooked our food at the table and it was very good!
Today the kids performed at Takanawadai high school which is a private school of 1,500 students for only two grades. It was very nice and their band of 80 students were very good. Our kids really played well for them and the students and parents of the kids liked the song “You can call me Al” and the jazz band. The kids are so awesome at all the places we go – our kids sure love their home stay families! The kids at the schools are so sweet and friendly and welcoming!
Tonight we went out to a noodle restaurant – again no English! Good food. Then to the 100 yen store, seven floors of items for $1!
The festival is tomorrow and we are all very excited about it. Sorry no pictures cause I never get to see the photos that Dorita has taken to send them. She has been downloading them into the laptop but no time to send them.
The weather has been better than perfect, cool, about 45-50 when it is warm but can be as low as 35, but sunny!
Gotta go. Love you all. Send this to whoever you think should get it!
P.S. all the kids have maintained their health pretty good. Nick has had sore ankles, Ben Freeman has had a cold, Jack’s knee has been okay but they are all saying they are all tired of stairs (lots) and walking.
Love you bye bye.