The first week of Leave Away was spent in Japan for six 6.1 boys (Ed Mair, James Chelton, Seb Prentice, Jack Barclay, Ethan Clarke, Charlie Maunder) and one Don (KAM). This was the third visit of Radleians to Ichinomiya High school about 260 km west of Tokyo and it is part of an exchange programme that sees Ichinomiya students returning to Radley for the fourth time in March 2017.
Four of the days in Japan were spent in school, where the boys most often found themselves helping out in English lessons. We were also lucky to be able to sample a number of after school clubs including Kendo, Japanese Archery and the tea ceremony club, which gave us a wonderful insight into Japanese culture. What made the real difference when it came to understanding more about Japan, however, was the fact that we were all staying with the families of students from the school and it was this as much anything which made the trip so memorable.
Two of the days were spent on day trips to Kyoto and Hiroshima, both of which offered very contrasting insights into Japanese history. Visiting Hiroshima and the world renowned peace museum is a very moving and sobering experience and Kyoto with its many temples and gardens was a beautiful place to visit. Travel to and from both cities was by shinkansen or bullet train, which made the days even more memorable even for the non-train spotters!
What will stay with all of us more than anything else, is the overwhelming generosity of our hosts and of everyone else that we encountered during our stay. Nothing was too much trouble and fitting in all the gifts with which we were presented was a real struggle as we packed to come home.