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Worldschool Travel Tour: Overview of Japan in Autumn 2009 and More About Summer 2010 Tour

My newsletter all about the Worldschool Travel Tour: Japan in Autumn 2009 with six homeschooling/unschooling young adults. Plus, info about the upcoming Japan tour in summer 2010 (see the itinerary for that trip): including a chance for a parent-child pair to attend the tour! Also, announcement of a tour to Europe in 2011.

Stranger in a Strange Land Newsletter: January 2010

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year! What a year and what a decade it has been!

Since I last wrote I led a three week Worldschool Travel Tour around Japan in November, 2009 with six homeschooling/unschooling young adults!

The trip went really well. One of the most encouraging things is that two of the teens who came want to go on the next Worldschool Travel Tour back to Japan this July-August, summer 2010!

I’m excited about that trip and planning other tours as well. More info at the bottom of this newsletter about future tours, plus some changes to the Japan in Summer 2010 tour including a chance for a parent-child pair to be part of that trip!

So I said, the Japan 2009 trip went well: but what did we actually do?

Well, we climbed a castle.

We saw beautiful Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

We fed deer and saw a huge Buddha statue in the old capital of Nara.

Nara - Rachel feeding cabbage to the deer in Nara.

Nara - Rachel feeding cabbage to the deer in Nara.

Nara - Daibutsu, Great Buddha statue in the Todaiji Temple in Nara.

Nara - Daibutsu, Great Buddha statue in the Todaiji Temple in Nara. (Photo by Tomoko: thanks to Tomoko for all the great candid shots of us at the sites, not just the sites themselves!)

We meandered through markets full of pottery, fans, world-class cooking knives, swords, sweets, and manga (Japanese comics).

Market in Shinsaibashi, Osaka - Eli and Conor admiring the cooking knives.

Market in Shinsaibashi, Osaka - Eli and Conor admiring the cooking knives. (Photo by Tomoko)

We wandered around Kyoto discovering unexpected gems. We sang karaoke. We soaked in an onsen (hot spring) in the mountains.

Karaoke - Sarah and Hannah singing karaoke!

Karaoke - Sarah and Hannah singing karaoke! (Thanks to Conor for getting this great shot in that room with poor lighting!)

We marveled at Tokyo’s Ahkihabara “Electric Town” and the fantastic cosplay shops in Harajuku with costumes from Elizabethan England, to punk, to 50s greasers. They love their costumes and electronics!

Ahkihabara, Tokyo - "Electric Town" in Tokyo.

Ahkihabara, Tokyo - "Electric Town" in Tokyo. (Photo by Hannah)

Harajuku, Tokyo - "Typical" cosplay shop in Harajuku! (Photo by Tomoko)

Harajuku, Tokyo - "Typical" cosplay shop in Harajuku! (Photo by Tomoko)

We ate delicious food including udon and soba noodles, tako yaki (fried octopus dumplings), sushi, good Italian food, and a favorite of many on the trip: okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake fried right at your table, filled with cabbage and your choice of seafood, meat, noodles, etc.

Okonomiyaki - "fried as you like it" - eating Japanese pancakes

Okonomiyaki - "fried as you like it" - eating Japanese pancakes. (Photo by Tomoko)

We also visited Hiroshima and heard a presentation by a woman whose mother was there when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb. The mother has been volunteering for many years, talking to people about the horror of that history and the humanity on both sides. Now her daughter carries on the work.

Hiroshima -  Daughter of a survivor talking about the history of the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Hiroshima - Daughter of a survivor talking about the history of the dropping of the atomic bomb. (Photo by David)

We were also able to be part of a special ceremony my little sister went to for seven, five, and three year olds: “Shichi go san”. We saw so many beautiful kimonos on the adorable kids!

Monks chanted and played traditional drums as part of the ceremony. Drums cross through all cultures and affect everyone I think. Anyway, I know these powerful vibrations seemed to go deep into my bones!

Shichi go san - Tomoko and Yuni in beautiful kimonos on the way to the temple for the ceremony for seven five and three year old children.

Shichi go san - Tomoko and Yuni in beautiful kimonos on the way to the temple for the ceremony for seven five and three year old children. (Photo by Becki)

Beyond getting us access to amazing, unique experiences like that, Tomoko Shibuya, my co-guide, was so helpful with giving us the inside info about Japanese culture and just making my job of leading the tour a whole lot easier.

It was definitely a steep learning curve for me with a group this size and trying to balance freedom for them and my responsibility to make sure everyone was okay. It worked out well, but I’m excited about future trips because I know there are plenty of things I can improve.

As is my goal with these tours, we all learned a lot about the culture and ourselves and went through a lot of personal growth.

In the words of a couple of the parents:

Testimonials

“I feel she enjoyed every aspect of the trip and has more confidence and determination to do the things she wants to. Many things have shifted since this trip. The biggest shift for us all I think is that I trust her more and more with her own life! What a relief that is as a parent!”

-Margaret S. from Louisiana, mother of Sarah

“I think he is counting the days until he can go back, he really loved it there. It truly was a great learning and growing experience for David and we do appreciate all you are doing and have done to open the world up to young adults.”

-Sherry T. from California, mother of David

I’m really thankful for the people who came on the trip, their supportive families, Tomoko Shibuya for helping lead the tour, and just for the fact that I can do this work I love and has so much meaning to me.

Wishing you all the best in the coming year!

-Eli

P.S. You can see all the blog posts I made during and after the tour, with photos and more details about many of the places I mention above, here.

Upcoming tours:

Worldschool Travel Travel Tour: Japan in Summer 2010

There’s still space for young adults on this tour and space for a younger child and a parent who is willing to help chaperone the tour! I’ve been hearing from more parents interested in taking their younger child on one of the Worldschool Tours so this is a great opportunity to do that with a discount!

I’ve now made an application form with some basic questions. Those interested please e-mail me and I’ll send you the application form.

More info about this tour on my site here.

I have had to raise the price of the tour to $4,000. That’s about a 10% increase from the last Japan tour: flights are more expensive and I now realize how much everything adds up.

The estimated daily spending money seems to have been accurate: an additional $1,000 can cover transportation, food, admission costs, and a good amount of shopping as well.

Worldschool Travel Tour: Holland and Germany in Spring 2011

Four week tour of canals, tulip fields, medieval cathedrals and historical Berlin with price and exact dates TBA. I’m excited about leading my first trip to Europe and looking into different options right now.

Stay tuned for updates in this newsletter and on my blog and contact me if you have any questions!

4 Responses to “Worldschool Travel Tour: Overview of Japan in Autumn 2009 and More About Summer 2010 Tour”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Worldschooler: Newsletter ab Worldschool Travel Tour: Japan in Nov 09 and more info ab the summer 2010 tour!: http://tinyurl.com/ydrwrz4

  2. A varied trip! Thank you for the vivid pictures of the tour.

  3. Eli Gerzon says:

    Thanks for checking it out Miriam! We definitely saw a lot of different things: Japan itself is a very varied country. I also borrowed from pretty much everyone on the tour for the photos in this post!

  4. […] found this picture that does a pretty good job at showing the scale but there was nothing quite like standing in front […]

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