Tour of Japan | Cary Academy Goes to Japan 2018 – Experiences

Nov 26 | Evan | No Comments |

This summer, Japan Photo Guide by Evan Pike was once again able to offer a spectacular trip to Japan just for Cary Academy students. Katie Taylor, 6th grade Language Arts teacher and Japan enthusiast, co-led the group with Evan. We began our trip in Tokyo, then traveled to Nagoya, Hiroshima, and Kyoto before returning home from Osaka. This post is written by Katie Taylor, a 6th grade teacher at Cary Academy and Japan enthusiast.

Read about our 2016 trip to Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Kyoto or see all reports from the 2018 tour of Japan.

We call our trip for CA students “Experience Japan” for good reason: we don’t just ride a tour bus from location to location looking at things, but we include a wide variety of hands-on experiences that allow students to connect with the people and culture of Japan in authentic ways. I’ve already mentioned the cooking lesson at Yuca’s home and the origami lesson at Origami Kaikan, both of which were amazing experiences.

One of our first experiences on this year’s trip was a visit to a VR arcade in Tokyo, VR Zone Shinjuku. “Arcade” doesn’t seem like the right word since it conjures up images of American shopping malls and Pac-Man; this was more like an indoor amusement park. We played MarioKart and other games or just watched. The arcade is set up with viewing screens, so your friends can see what you’re seeing on the VR headset.

Probably the most unique experience we had was visiting a brand new avant-garde art installation in Odaiba, one of the newest areas of Tokyo. “Team Lab Borderless” is a totally unique museum experience in which the user interacts with the art. There are huge displays of moving flowers that are projected on the walls and your body. There are rooms full of inflated shapes that you can walk through. There’s a slide, things to climb, a “forest” to walk through, a room full of lights that makes it feel like you’re underwater, and even two different rooms in which you can design your own flower, fish, or animal using a coloring page and then see your design literally move across the floors and walls of the exhibit. 

While in Kyoto, we had the chance to participate in some classic Japanese experiences that everyone should do at least once. We learned traditional calligraphy from a calligraphy artist, participated in a tea ceremony, learned the basics of kendo (swordmanship), and played taiko (drums). 


Of course some of the most memorable experiences happen with the least planning. For example, one day in Kyoto we visited a temple and found an unexpected art show! A mother and her daughter were showcasing their designs. The mother’s art was made using dried flowers that she finds on her walks and the daughter did playful calligraphy. We were so enthralled we ended up buying a few pieces!

Any animals we saw were a big hit for our group too. We enjoyed visiting the Grand Ise Shrine, but the local cats we found afterwards were probably as memorable as our visit to the ancient pilgrimage site. We saw fish, fed deer, and even found a Shiba Inu hanging out at a restaurant waiting for his owner! I think we may have some future Shiba owners in our group.