Capstone 2017: Last Day

Taka Sensei announces the end of Capstone and says goodbye to his students. Most students will continue traveling throughout Japan with their families. 

A big thank you to Taka Sensei for all of your hard work to make this years Capstone trip an incredible experience for these 5th graders. They will cherish these memories for many years to come!

Capstone: Parents Reflection

Toward the end of the capstone trip, the kids seem more comfortable traveling and becoming more independent. For example, riding trains and shopping at souvenir shops are done easily by themselves now.

During a visit to the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, there were so many visitors like us as it was a spring break week, but our kids were focused and stayed with Taka sensei. They listened carefully to his and the guide's lectures related to their projects.  Sometimes they were spread out in the building but helped each other to stay as a group.

At this point we said goodbye to Kat - as she will fly back to the America's and enjoy spring break with her family - safe travel - and thank you for your support!

For lunch we headed over to the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan - Tokyo's venue for world renowned opera and ballet ensembles. While it is always difficult to find a place that can host a big group - we were seated and served promptly. After lunch we headed over to Asakusa this time with the subway - which the group also navigated flawlessly.

Asakusa brought us two of Tokyo's big tourist attractions: the Hozomon gate and the Sensō-ji temple ...as well as a view of the skytree (with 634 meters the highest tower in Japan, and the second highest structure in the world) and the Asahi golden nugget (also referred to as "golden unchi)". We declined to be transported in a ricksha or rent a kimono but could not refuse to buy an ice cream in one of the many tourist oriented shops. After we learned how to rinse our hands ritually we bought a fortune...the Gods seemed to welcome TIS, as most of us received at least "regular fortune". (Granted - there were some that received bad fortune too...).

After a walk to the Sumida river the Japanese Capstone 2017 was finalized.

Thank you TIS, thank you Taka sensei, thank you Kat, and thank you Yukako for all the hard work that went into this. The kids had a fabulous time!

- TIS parents, Etsuko & Johan Van der Hilst

Capstone 2017: March 19-21 Hakodate

We arrived in the historic port city of Hakodate via express train and was welcomed with brisk temperatures but plenty of sunshine.  Weather-wise, this trip has been excellent so far though some of us wished we had not sent off our mittens and heavier gear to Narita when we departed Chitose.  

Hakodate is the third largest city in Hokkaido and sits close to the most southern tip of the island.  It is famous for marvelous seafood; crab, squid and sea urchin in particular.  Many of us enjoyed freshly caught & prepared breakfasts from the many restaurants in the Morning Market.  It doesn't get fresher than this!

Hakodate was founded in the mid-1400s and was Japan's first city open to foreign trade in 1854 when US Commodore Matthew Perry arrived.  There was much western-influenced architecture and commerce that is still evident today.  One example is the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward, a large Victorian-looking building complete with reception areas, dining rooms and a formal ballroom.  The kids felt as if they were whisked back in time during the tour of this building. 

Due to its strategic location near Russia, long history of indigenous Ainu culture and encroachment of Japanese from the south, the area was the scene of many key points in the region's history.  One example is Goryokaku, an impressive five pointed star-shaped fortress, originally built in the mid-1800's by the Tokugawa shogunate based on a French design.  This fort was meant to protect the area from possible Russian invasion.  The kids toured the vast grounds leading to the large and beautiful governmental hall/castle built Japanese style using traditional woodworking methods.  The children were impressed with the skill and craftsmanship of the many tradesmen and artists from all over Japan who were commissioned to work on this facility and asked many thoughtful questions about why certain methods were used and what responsibilities those working in the hall had.  

Our last evening in Hakodate was amazing, as we took a ropeway (tram with capacity of 125 people) about a mile up Mt. Hakodate at 7 meters/second.  Our kids (and adults!) were thrilled with the gorgeous aerial views of the bay area, with lights twinkling from the city and from fishing & cruising ships in the water.  The ride was extremely smooth, and the observation deck provided spectacular 360 degree views. 

The children overall have stayed pretty healthy during Capstone and we parents have been monitoring their rest and eating habits.  Many kids (including mine) keep wanting to eat certain local dishes over and over (ramen!) but everyone really enjoyed the seafood here as it's hard to resist such beautiful and fresh fare.  It will be sad to leave Hakodate, but the wonderful experiences the kids had here will never be forgotten. 

- TIS parent, Yuri Dyson

Capstone 2017: March 18, Otaru

Post by Eric Wynkoop, TIS parent:

With images of umeboshi (little plums) still dancing in our heads, we got up at the crack of dawn to take in the sunrise from our rooms. After getting ready for an earlier-than-usual departure, parents and students enjoyed breakfast either in Haskap, the stylish hotel restaurant, or in their rooms with food bought the previous nights at the nearby AEON department store. Before we knew it, 7:00am had arrived, and we were off to Chitose train station for our ride to the city of Otaru, about 90 minutes to the west, on the Sea of Japan coast. Our destination was the Otaru Aquarium.

We arrived in Otaru greeted by the beautiful scenery of the deep blue sea lapping at the snow’s edge. Otaru can be a harsh place in the winter, when the winds of Siberia bring quite a chill – and lots of snow, too.

Otaru is also the hometown of Ayush’s grandmother. It was nice to see him making a connection to this iconic Hokkaido fishing town that also occupies a special place amoung our family.

The last leg of our short journey to the aquarium was a 30 minute ride on the local bus through the narrow streets of this hilly town, to the very top where the performing penguins and synchronized sea lions reside.

The following thoughts were shared by Keiden, one of our 5th grade students:

“We went to the Otaru Aquarium. I thought it would be boring, but there were lots of fish and marine animals that I had never seen before. We are lucky that wewere able to take the aquarium “backyard tour,” which was fun. My favorite part during the backyard tour was when we got to touch the live shark and feel its skin texture!

We were also able to see all of the shows, which included otters, penguins, sea lions, and dolphins. At the dolphin show, I sat in a seat where you could get splashed with water, but they didn’t splash water on me at all. Anyway, it was so much fun!”

We all had lunch at the aquarium restaurant, enjoying favorites like miso ramen, katsukare, and seafood chuka-don.  With bellies full again, the students spent the last few hours at the aquarium observing, photographing, and discussing the sometimes strange looking, yet beautiful, sea creatures.

Our return journey by bus and “rapid” train brought us safely back to Chitose in time for dinner and an early night’s sleep. Images of umeboshi dancing in our heads…

Capstone 2017: March 17, Hokkaido Museum

From Ayana, Capstone Japan student:

After the Pioneer Village, we went to a museum where we can learn history, nature, culture of Hokkaido. It was AMAZING! It had detailed models and real things like a Tonnkori. This was one of native Ainu people's instruments. It looked like a Koto, but like a guitar. We got to play it and was a lot fun. We learned about histories of Hokkaido before leaving for capstone trip, so we knew some of it, but it was so cool actually seeing it and leaning about it more. 

I am very glad to have capstone at our school! Thank you!

Interior of Ainu house

Interior of Ainu house

The Ainu raised baby bears!

The Ainu raised baby bears!

Leanne really loves fish!

Leanne really loves fish!

Playing the Tonnkori

Playing the Tonnkori

Listening to samples of Ainu language and song

Listening to samples of Ainu language and song

Capstone 2017: March 17, Pioneer Village

From Ayana, Capstone Japan Student:

At the village, they had houses and building of the pioneers of Hokkaido, and there were buildings that you can look inside. It was very interesting to see that some of houses and buildings were were western but inside it was Japanese style! We also had fun sledding with an old wooden sled with friends and Taka sensei. 

The entrance to the Hokkaido Pioneer Village

The entrance to the Hokkaido Pioneer Village

Goofing around in the old middle school.

Goofing around in the old middle school.

Western-influenced house

Western-influenced house

Interior showing a worker dining and preparation area.

Interior showing a worker dining and preparation area.

Sledding!

Sledding!

 

 

Capstone 2017: Reflections on our homestay

Several students took the time to write about their homestay experiences:

Ayush:
I was very excited to meet my homestay and go to Takadai Elementary School. On our second day, suddenly, it was five o’clock, and we were changing clothes and getting gifts ready for the host family in our hotel room. We went down and met the host family in the lobby. I say goodbye to my parents and went with the host family. We got in the car, and in a few minutes, we were at their house. The next day, we rode a train to a bear park and fed the bears! We also went to JIgokudani hot springs in Noboribetsu. On Monday, it was the first day of school. I visited Takadai Elementary School for four days, and I made many friends. On the last day of school, everyone was very sad. We all said goodbye, and I promised to come back again.

Leanne:
On the first day when I met Kana, I felt really nervous thinking of what I was going to do that week. Next day, I went to the Salmon Museum with my homestay, Ayana, and her hoemstay. We got to let tiny baby salmon in a small river. It was really fun seeing tiny fish in a tiny cup and let them go. After that, we went to a candy shop which I bought a lots of candy! I love candy, so buying candy with my friends made me feel comfortable and made me feel safe. Overall, the next week came so fast. A time that I like most was playing"rock, paper, scissors." It was really sad saying goodbye to everybody. All in all, this experience made me know and learn Japanese people’s lifestyles are FUN!

Kate:

I was very nervous, but everyone at the school and at my homestay was nervous too, so that made me feel a little better. Everyone was really nice. The thing I will remember the most was the last period on our last day at school, we were having fun but then everyone started crying even though we had only been together for four days. It was really heartwarming. Taka-sensei said that in his 7 years of coming to this school, he had never seen a group react like this. They sang us a song that they had been practicing for the sixth graders’ graduation ceremony, and part of the song was about "being under the same sky, but still being connected,” which made many of us cry. That was really nice. I was really motivated when I saw what the kids at both schools that we visited were able to do in art class, and it made me feel like I could do it too. Someday I would like to go back and visit all the people that I met.

A parent's perspective:

Bill (Kate's dad):

The night before Capstone was a tough one at our house, as I’m sure it was at others. But when we met Kate’s class at the airport in Portland and I watched her with friends she has known since preschool I knew she would be OK. And when I saw her again eight days later in Chitose I could see that she had changed. She was more self-assured, more at ease with strangers, more willing to make small talk in Japanese. She had formed strong relationships with her homestay family. Her host’s four-year-old sister played with her like she would her own sister; her mother took pride in the things Kate had done, the food she had tried, the things she had said like she would in her own daughter. They welcomed Kate into their community and made her feel at home five thousand miles away from us.

 

Capstone 2017: March 16, End of Homestay

On Thursday, March 16, students had their last day of school in Chitose and said goodbye to their host families. Host families brought the students to the hotel to reunite with their families. Afterward TIS parents treated their child's host family to dinner. Tomorrow the group starts the sightseeing portion of Capstone where they will explore different cultural and historic sites and gather information for their Exhibition projects.

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Capstone 2017: March 10 - Day 1 in Chitose

Greetings from Chitose, Hokkaido! 

Despite long international flights including 2 hours layover in Seoul & late arrival last night, Japanese 5th graders had a good rest and started off their big adventure! We walked a lot and ate a lot of good food on our first day before meeting their host families. 

Walking along chitose river and played with snow:

Having delicious snack at a famous bakery:

Taking a train to Sapporo: 


One of Sapporo's sister cities "Portland"!!!:


Sapporo TV tower: 

Meeting with host families: 

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Capstone 2017: Send-off assembly!

We had a wonderful send-off assembly today, during which we came together as a school and celebrated this special moment with our 5th graders.*  Each 1st through 5th grader got a flag to carry - one color per grade to symbolize our multiculturalism - that counts down how many years they have until their Capstone.

The 5th graders performed "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor," by Irving Berlin with lyrics from "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus. And then students from each track then spoke about their trips and what they hoped to learn on them.  It was truly an awesome, inspiring moment.

Thanks to all the teachers, students, and administrators - and particularly Peter Musselman - who helped to make this wonderful assembly happen!

Capstone 2016, Update #8

All of us safely back to the US and start focusing on upcoming Exhibition now.
I believe the experiences that they've had in Japan will be their life time treasure. I am so happy to be a part of this event with my great students. That makes me motivated to work for this school.
 - Takanori Fuji, Japanese Teacher

STUDENT COMMENTS

Nanami
The home-stay was shorter than what I expected. But I learned how different American families and Japanese families are like, what type of food they eat, and their neighborhood rules.

Yukimasa
At the school I learned the culture of Japanese students. In Japan they have school lunch. When you are in 5th grade you are allowed to use scroll saw in Art class.The school classes are vary organized so it was easy to go to our next class.

Adriana Mon Belle
During the tri,p I learned about the Japanese culture and population(our exhibition topic). The culture is very different from our own. There were many things that represented the population of Japan. This trip was meaningful to my family, my classmates, and me, because we got to experience something most people don't get to experience. I also learned that I can do things independently and be confident in myself even when I'm not feeling at home.

 

Capstone 2016, Update #7

Foods are a big part of trip for all of us. We've gotten to try a variety of foods that we do not normally have in Portland. In Hokkaido, they are all inexpensive, tasty, and fresh (not frozen). Some examples:

Lamb BBQ

Lamb BBQ

Mixed seafood on top of rice

Mixed seafood on top of rice

Crab meat and salmon roe on top of rice

Crab meat and salmon roe on top of rice

Seafood and veggie tempura

Seafood and veggie tempura

Hakodate Shio Ramen

Hakodate Shio Ramen

- Takanori Fujii, TIS 5th Grade Teacher

Capstone 2016, Update #6

Exhibition is a special unit designed and executed by the students themselves.This Exhibition is truly unique to our school because we connect it to the 5th grade Capstone academic trips abroad. Before students left, they designed questionnaires on their topic of interest to gather data in their host countries. This year, our Exhibition topic is "population".

During this learning trip we visited different-sized cities like Chitose city(90,000), Otaru (130,000), Hakodate (280,000), and Sapporo (1.9million) in Hokkaido. We learned what the population is like (form), how population influence to the environment (connection), and how population has changed (change).

Since we have a small class size, we could visit the places where I've never been, or I haven't been for a long time. Thus, it is kind of a learning adventure for me, too!

The students are here to learn, and pay close attention to everything that they experience.

By the end of the trip, we'll be prepared for our Exhibition in April.

Sapporo

Sapporo

Otaru

Otaru

Hakodate

Hakodate

Chitose

Chitose

- Takanori Fujii, TIS 5th Grade Teacher

Capstone 2016, Update #5

The students are now done with school visit and homestays. The rest of trip will be spent touring Japan and learning about its history and culture. We are ready to enjoy true Japan!

Graduation ceremony's practice. It is 10 days before graduation. All 4th-6th grade students practice it very seriously so do TIS students.

Graduation ceremony's practice. It is 10 days before graduation. All 4th-6th grade students practice it very seriously so do TIS students.

Yuki during the recess 

Yuki during the recess 

Adriana in class. Her teacher was impressed by Adriana's linguistic skills.

Adriana in class. Her teacher was impressed by Adriana's linguistic skills.

- Takanori Fujii, TIS 5th Grade Teacher