Capstone Class of 2020: Sightseeing in Hachinohe, Meeting with Host Families
Hachinohe Portal Museum (Hacchi)
After meeting Taka Sensei and dropping off our things at the hotel, we walked a short distance to the Hachinohe Portal Museum or Hacchi. There the children visited several information booths, reading and asking questions of Taka Sensei. They learned about traditional methods of Sakiori weaving and Hishizashi embroidery. They also learned about the nearby Tanesashi Coast and artist Hatsusaburo Yoshida, a bird’s-eye view map artist that became enamored with its rugged coastline. We learned about Kabushima Shrine & the Umineko (black-tailed gulls, literal: sea cats, so named for the noise made by the cry of the adult gull)- that flock to the island in droves during the breeding season in the spring. The children read about the bustling Asaichi (morning market) & Yokocho (side streets) in Hachinohe and learned about the Tatehana Ganpeki Asaichi, the Sunday morning market at Tatehana Wharf- one of the largest in Japan. We even encountered a small version of the statue of the ‘isaba no kacha’ (fish market mother) found at the site of the Mutsu Minato Ekimae (station front) Asaichi. The kids also learned about Hachinohe-born female Olympic wrestlers Hitomi Obara, Kaori Icho and Chiharu Icho. As well, there were information booths about local architecture, historically and in modern times, and about local aesthetics from the Jomon period and during the reign of the Nanbu clan.
From Hachhi we took the bus to Hasshoku Center, where the children were impressed by the amazing bounty of the sea off the coast of Hachinohe (shark, squid, octopus, sea urchin, crab, eel and so on) as well as the unbelievably large Aomori apples. I am sure that the majority of them had never seen so much fresh seafood all in one place. We had our first lunch in Japan there, with some of the kids getting sushi and other traditionally Japanese foods, while others chose more familiar food items such as fried chicken (karaage), bread and well, apples.
After Hashhoku Center, we took another bus to Hachinohe Station where the Tohoku Shinkansen comes through. There we witnessed a beautiful art installation a float from the Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Festival, which Taka explained was very heavily influenced by the Chinese style- with dragons, monkey-gods and much more. Rather unexpectedly, we also encountered the husband of teacher Kamada sensei, who was to be the teacher for Karol, Kyto, and Vivian during homestay week. His English was quite good- as he is himself an English teacher! The kids also got to try a sample of dried squid (ika) from a vendor in the station. From Hachinohe Station, we boarded the local train to Hon-Hachinohe Station, which is just a short walk from the hotel, where we had a short time to recoup before taking a taxi to meet the host families and staff at Nishihakusandai Elementary School.
Meeting with Host families
Arriving at the school, we received a wonderful welcome from host school administrators and families. In the school auditorium, the host families stood holding hand-made signs with the name of each TIS student. The principal talked about the Kasagi from the Torii or shrine in Okuki which was damaged and thought lost during the 2011 earthquake and was later returned by the Portland Japanese Garden. The nervousness amongst the children was palpable as, one by one, they introduced themselves and went to their host families.