Day 4 - 28 October 2010
At breakfast, Solidarity Group (SG) A had a meeting to finalise the details of our performance at the Homestay matching ceremony at Iwate Prefecture (岩手県).
With my room-mate Weiwen!
Having a rest before checking out
Checking out of Hotel New Otani
While checking out, I left my winter wear at the room. Fortunately, room-mate Weiwen found out and got Patrick to rush it to me. Whew! Also thanks to Weiwen for giving me his gloves.
Before leaving, Atchan passed me a note with the Japan Contingent Logo Badge, Kizuna (絆), which meant bond.
My first badge
During the bus journey to the train station, our SG's Japanese Participating Youths (JPYs) taught us some Japanese songs, in particular the Sukiyaki song which goes Ue o muite Arukou~
JPYs also got the Singapore PYs (SPYs) to sing our "Singapore Town". Thanks to the catchy rhythm, everyone decided to adapt the song into a cheer for our SG.
We reached Tokyo Station (Hayate 19) and were given some time to browse and shop around.
With ❤ our Group Leader ❤
With Bow, who I met on Facebook way before SSEAYP
The bullet train or Shinkansen travels at a minimum speed of 210 km/hr!
My first experience on the Bullet Train
SG A members
SG A Singaporeans
Lunch was served in Bento set.
Thanks to Ethel and Parveen, I get to taste some of the Tokyo snacks...
Our trademark Tokyo Banana pose
I've always had this question and I believe you would also have it --> Since the bullet train moves at such a high speed, can you feel it when you're inside the train? Answer is NO! Check this video out:
The journey took us about 2.5 hours.
The Shinkansen brought us to the Morioka City (Capital city) of Iwate Prefecture. There, volunteers were all ready to welcome us. There were the Head of Iwate Programme Committee as well as students from Iwate University and an ex-PY, among others.
The temperature is lower in Morioka than in Tokyo. It was addictive to blow out some gas to see the "white smoke" that comes out from the mouth.
Our first activity was the Courtesy Call at the Iwate Prefectural Government's Office.
We were told that the widest road in Morioka is just 4 lanes. Locals can take public transportation via the 100-yen bus. On our way to the office, we saw this famous Cherry Blossom that grows out from a rock!
General Manager, Prefectural Governor Office, gives welcome speech
SG A National Leader gives a response speech
Our friendly interpreter, Yukiko, briefing us on the activities
After the speeches, we enjoyed a video on the beauty of Iwate. Everyone was also given some Iwate souvenirs.
We then departed from the Prefectural Government's Office and checked in to Hotel Metropolitan Morioka New Wing.
For dinner, we had Wanko-soba at Azumaya. Morioka is the home to Wanko-soba. Wanko means "bowl" while soba is a type of Japanese noodles. The rule of Wanko-soba is simple. The waitress will continue to pour soba into your empty bowl until you place the lid on it, and that if you have noodles in your bowl, you cannot put the lid on.
The local youth also shared some tips with us: 1) Don't chew the soba. Swallow it! 2) We won't be able to finish lots of soba if we drink the soup, so pour it away.
Local youth sharing some tips
There were other food, such as sashimi, to go along with the soba. We used toothpicks to count the number of bowls we had eaten.
This was my "sparring partner" from Iwate University. She said it was her first time eating Wanko-soba, yet...
... she beats me in eating more bowls of Wanko-soba!
Regardless of how much we ate, the restaurant was kind enough to give us a tablet that records the number of bowls we ate. The tablet is usually given to those who ate more than 100 bowls!
My record - 67 bowls of Wanko-soba
After dinner, some of us went shopping at a nearby mart.
And then we found our way to an ice-cream stall to try eating ice-cream in cold weather!
Back at the hotel, had a very long chat with my room-mate, Korn from Thailand, who was the Chairman of his local youth organisation and a professional radio DJ.
Let's turn our attention to the toilet...
Most of the Japanese toilets have seat-warmers, that comes with a digital panel that allows you to wash the essential parts without much effort.
To protect the environment, soap is offered in large bottles.
Shiseido soap bottles