Our morning was quite eventful, what with the official Opening Ceremony (a small official event meant to welcome us to the school and introduce us to our new teachers). We sat there for a while as the director of the programme introduced staff members and teachers, and prepared us for the visit to the government offices later that day.
In the afternoon, we made a courtesy visit to the Prefectural Government Building and met with the governor of Ishikawa. I being in charge of preparing/making speeches for the whole of my team, I was extremely nervous as this was my first ‘official’ speech while in Japan. One of our accompanying staff member reassured me and told me not to feel nervous about it, that it was a very relaxed kind of meeting.
While we waited to meet the governor, we were taken to the topmost floor of the building with a panoramic view of the city of Kanazawa. This in itself helped us relax before the meeting and allowed us to snap a few pictures and chat amongst ourselves without having to worry about formalities.
After a while we were brought into a large conference room where we met with the governor and a few of his staff members and some journalists, all too eager to talk to us. The governor explained about Kanazawa, saying it was a ‘small’ city of 500 000 people while the prefecture of Ishikawa held about 1.5 million inhabitants. He told us about landmarks in Kanazawa and their cultural significance for the whole of Japan, and welcomed us warmly to his city.
I delivered my first speech without too many stumbles and felt relieved when it was done. As a representative of my team, I then received from the governor a 金封 kinpu (traditional money envelope) and a small box containing a doll Kaga Hachiman Okiagari (similar in style to daruma), made to represent human resilience (because the doll cannot be tipped over due to its rounded bottom).
After the meeting was over, one journalist came up to me and asked me to explain the design of our team’s t-shirts. We told them about the different elements and symbols in our design and then, after a few pictures and comments, we left to return to school to pick up our things before each leaving for our homes, tired and famished.
All in all it was an interesting and exciting day. Meeting the governor of Ishikawa was a defining moment in our lives as fresh-faced students. Tomorrow the real fun begins: first day of total immersion Japanese classes!