Deep Dive: Students Immerse in Japanese Life

Junior Japan Exchange provides cultural immersion and valuable insights

Ten IGS students in Years 8 and 9 Japanese classes recently participated in the 2023 Junior Japan Exchange Program for two weeks, from 16 September to 3 October. The students experienced Japanese school life at Osaka International High School (OIHS) and were hosted by their Japanese buddies, providing them with valuable insights into Japanese school and home life.

From the beginning the OIHS teachers were impressed by how well our students could speak Japanese. Our accompanying IGS teachers witnessed first hand how this unique Osaka immersion further accelerated the language learning of our students.

IGS students quickly began to pick up authentic Japanese expressions and use them in their Japanese conversations. The timing of this exchange program aligned very well with our students’ current year groups, as at this stage their language learning is beginning to flourish.

During this successful trip students were able to overcome language barriers and cultural differences to build strong personal connections with their host families. Saying goodbye was emotional but our students were comforted knowing that they had made lifelong memories and they hope to keep in touch with the families in Japan for a long time.

IGS students reflect on their experience:

“Living with a new family who are complete strangers allowed me to experience another family’s lifestyle. By eating their food, going to the same school, and seeing what they do everyday makes me want to stay and permanently live there. Japan has so many fun things to do. Getting to go on an exchange trip was truly life changing. It would be a memory I would never forget!” Kaden Chu

“Throughout my exchange experience my host family immersed me in many aspects of Japanese culture. During my first week in Osaka my family took me to a karaoke room where we sang a mixture of both English and Japanese songs, though we mostly sang Disney. Karaoke was a wonderful experience and a great way to further connect with my host sister. The following weekend we met up with my buddy’s grandma and great auntie. At the great auntie’s house a teacher came and dressed us in beautiful kimonos that we wore to a shrine. Both experiences helped me create a deeper connection with my family and help me further understand and appreciate Japanese culture.” Matilda Brown

“During our stay in Japan on exchange, one of the special lessons we had was the tea ceremony. OIHS has a traditional style Japanese room dedicated to tea ceremonies and we were lucky enough to get to experience one. We were told about how in tea ceremonies you start with some really sweet treats before you have the tea. This is to balance out and help you appreciate the bitterness of the matcha tea that you have after. We were taught the manners and special phrases that you say and do in a tea ceremony and even got to make our own tea. It was a lovely experience and was both fascinating and delicious!” Matilda Benedictus

“During our school experience, we got to try traditional Japanese calligraphy or しょどう‘shodo’. We watched our calligraphy teacher and tried to replicate what she created. We attempted the Kanji for mizu (water), tamago (egg), and the Kanji for life and death. We also got to glue our work on paper and have it stamped. It was very fun and interesting to experience Japanese shodo while in Japan.” Antonin Maresh

The trip to Fushimi Inari in Kyoto was breathtaking. The stunning red torii gates and peaceful surroundings created an unforgettable new experience. I loved walking through the Trails with my friends and being able to take part in this exchange. This was definitely a highlight of our student exchange program.” Ryder Williams

IGS Exchange Programs happens every year. The programs available are Junior China, Junior Japan, Senior Japan Tokyo, Senior Japan Osaka, Senior Europe – Germany, Italy, Spain and France.