Ikata Visit (Part 2)

The following are photos from the Ikata portion of the Ikata-Red Wing Exchange taken by members of the Ikata International Exchange Association office. This is part two out of two.
Some of the students residing in the Ikata area were able to take part in the mochi maki (throwing rice cakes) at the beginning of a festival. This is a very big deal and a great honor to be a part of.

Ikata Visit (Part 1)

The following are photos taken from the Ikata portion of the Ikata-Red Wing Exchange taken by members of the Ikata International Exchange Association Office. This is the first of two posts.

The students from Ikata, chairman of IIEA, and two English teachers excitedly waited to welcome the Red Wing Delegation at Matsuyama Port.

The first all-group photo of Ikata and Red Wing students, chaperones, host families, and members of the Exchange Association.


Day 12 - Departure

It's here. The final day. Everyone woke up early in the morning to meet at 6AM at the Target parking lot.
Group photo with the Ikata and Red Wing students. Perhaps we will see some of these Red Wing students next year (or years to come)?!
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Day 10 - Canoe and Farewell Cookout

Day 9 was a full free day for students and their host families. Please look forward to photos from those free days at a later date.
On Day 10, we went to Wisconsin! By car? Nope! By canoe. Everyone challenged themselves at canoeing across Lake Pepin (a section of the Mississippi River) to Stockholm, WI for pie. The weather was fortunately on our side that day as we when we finished, it started to rain.
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Day 8 - Goodhue Historical Museum, Afternoon of Art

In the morning, we went to Goodhue County Historical Museum and toured around learning about not only the history of Red Wing, but other towns as well in Goodhue County.
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Day 7 - YMCA, Board Games, and Trolley Tour

Today was a packed day full of activities. First, we went to the YMCA which is a local sports and recreational center like the Sports Center in Ikata. Our first challenge: the rock climbing wall. With the expertise of Willa and her sister, they assisted the Ikata students as they made it to the top.
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Day 12-14 - Safe Arrival in Ikata 派遣団が無事に帰国しました!

After a total of three flights, two buses and two days, the students and teacher from Ikata have arrived safely back in Japan.

Please look forward to more entries and photos from the 20th annual sister city exchange trip as well as reflections from the students' and teacher.




Day 6 - Drum Circle, Tree Planting, & Welcome Party

Today, in the morning, the kids climbed up Barn Bluff. After lunch, we visited the Anderson Center and Universal Music Company and took part in a drumming circle. We then headed to Covill Park to plant our sister city tree. The tree for this year is a Newport Plum and should bloom next June. After planting, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of pulled pork sandwiches and exchanged gifts.
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Day 5 - River City Days Parade

Today was the big day - walking in the River City Days Parade. The kids from Ikata and Red Wing dressed in Japanese yukata. The girls also wore cute flower hair accessories. We followed Matt in his blue truck with all of the gifts from Ikata previously sent via post and replenished our bags whenever we ran out of things to hand out. The Japanese fans were especially popular with the crowd on a hot summer's day.
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Day 4 - Pottery Museum, Red Wing Shoes, and Disc Golf

Note: I would like to apologize for the slow updating of posts. There have been issues with trying to upload photos on a mobile device, so please look forward to longer posts and more photos after the program is finished. Thank you for your understanding,

Today, we first visited the Red Wing Pottery Museum. They gave us candy to start out the tour. The pottery in Red Wing is known for its stoneware which was used to keep practical items such as water, dried meats, vegetables, and medicine.
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Day 3 - Arrival in Red Wing

We took a small regional plane to Minneapolis on Friday afternoon and arrived 20 minutes early.

Each student met with their respective host families.

Michika and Nagisa with the Marty Family.

Benio and Minami with the Nagel Family.

Hyuga with the Toegel Family.
Ayumi with the Palmatier Family.
Mrs. Shinozawa with the Erickson and Quinn Family.

We then headed to the Mall of America - the largest mall in the United States. We visited the indoor amusement park and rode several rides.
At the end, some of the girls tried out a penny pressing machine.

For dinner, we headed to Ikea - known for its cheap, but delicious Swedish meatballs.

Afterwards, we walked around the IKEA showroom floor, the students playing around as if each room was their home. Michika shows her "Kingly" face after being served "coffee".


Day 17 & Day 1 - See You Japan, Hello U.S.A! またね日本、ハロ!アメリカ

After traveling by two buses and two planes (total travel: 21 hours), the 20th Ikata Student Delegation has arrived at our first stop in Chicago, Illinois. 
Even though everyone was plenty tired from the long trip, we were surprised by the bus the tour guide came in - it was like a dance party inside!
Tomorrow we will start a big tour of Chicago, so for now we will rest up. 


Day 3 & 4 - From Tokyo to Kyoto 東京から京都へ

Pictures and Notes from Dawn, this year's chaperone.
Wednesday evening train to Kyoto from Tokyo eating bento box dinners.
Making wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets) in Kyoto.
Eating conveyor belt sushi in Kyoto.


Day 2 - Tokyo

Crossing Shibuya in Tokyo on Tuesday


Day 1: Arrival in Japan 日本への到着

Yesterday afternoon, the Red Wing Delegation has arrived in Japan and reached their hotel safely in Tokyo. Today, they are planning to visit the Imperial Gardens and other sights in bustling Tokyo.


Preparations and Updates on the 20th Red Wing-Ikata Sister City Exchange

Hello from Ikata, Japan!
Today ends with a rainy day after a full week of high temperatures and humidity.

There have been changes within the past year that I, the Ikata CIR, would like to address in this short blog post.

First, starting in August 2015, Philip Moyer - the CIR for the 2015 exchange - left his position to start a new job in Tokyo. A new CIR (Maggie Thorpe, originally from Tucson, AZ) replaced him that same month.

Second, starting in April 2016, the Ikata International Exchange Association (IIEA) has been moved from the town's Policy Implementation Division to the Board of Education.

During this shuffle of new persons and organization, this blog as well as other social media accounts went by the wayside due to a town-wide no-Internet access implementation* until the beginning of April 2016.

So it is with great happiness that I will be able to write and update the blog as well as other social media accounts moving forward.

In ten days, the 13th Annual Ikata Homestay program will commence with two students and one chaperone arriving in Japan on July 18th. Despite the number of participants being smaller compared to previous years, they will fortunately be able to tour around Japan for four days more! They are planning to visit Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima before arriving in Ikata on July 25th. I will also be meeting with them in Hiroshima to guide as well as accompany them on the ferry ride over the Seto Inland Sea to Matsuyama.

In less than a month, the 20th Annual Ikata Overseas Red Wing Sister City Exchange program will commence. We have six 9th grade students (3rd year junior high) as well as two chaperones (1 English teacher and 1 CIR) going over. The Ikata group will leave on August 3rd, have a short stay in Chicago, followed by about 10 days in Red Wing.

Since early June, the Ikata students have been reviewing and learning English in preparation for their homestay as well as customs and cultural differences/similarities in the U.S. They have also read short passages on certain regional specific things such as the Mississippi River, hot dishes, and Chicago's World Fair.

I have also been researching as much as possible about Minnesota (and Chicago) as it will be my first time in the region. Not only will this be a great opportunity for the students to experience America, it is also great for me to learn more about the country I am from!

Last night, we had our second-to-last English training session and this time it was about U.S. customs and security. We reenacted a dialogue between a customs/security officer and a passenger so as to increase their confidence in their English skills despite how nerve-wracking it can feel! The group has certainly gotten more friendly with each other, giggling and laughing even over silly mistakes - I am incredibly looking forward to seeing how much more their friendships will deepen with this first step into a different world as well as to making lifelong relationships and connections with the people of Red Wing.


*The No-Internet rule from October to April happened due to the Japanese government's implementation of a new system called MyNumber (which is like the U.S.'s social security system).