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Japanese adventure
Info Emisumar_japan telah menulis/mengirim "20th ASIA-PACIFIC CHILDREN’S CONVENTION 2008
Fukuoka, Japan
9th July 2008 – 24th July 2008



IPOH JUNIOR AMBASSADOR’S
JOURNAL

“My Great Japanese Adventure”

By

Mohammad Umar Haikal Bin Mohd Azmi
Sek Keb. Sg Rokam, Ipoh



CONTENTS
page

INTRODUCTION 1

Chapter 1
IPOH CITY COUNCIL, IPOH
- the adventure begins 4

Chapter 2
FROM KLIA TO FUKUOKA
- Junior Ambassadors 4

Chapter 3
MARINE HOUSE, FUKUOKA
- “We are the bridge” 6

Chapter 4
HOST FAMILY
- a Japanese way of life 10

Chapter 5
THE FLIGHT HOME
- Sayonara 17

Chapter 6
IPOH, MALAYSIA
- Fukuoka dreams. 18

ANNEXURES
Acknowledgements i
“We are the Bridge” ii

INTRODUCTION

The Asia-Pacific Children’s Conference (“APCC”) is an annual conference of students aged between 11 to 12 in the Asia Pacific region, held in Fukuoka, Japan. This year it is celebrating its 20th year and Ipoh City as the twin city of Fukuoka had been invited yet again to participate together with the Malaysian contingent. This makes Ipoh City very special as it is one of the few cities to be invited.

To choose the Junior Ambassadors for Ipoh, students are chosen from those representing various schools around Ipoh and six students are later chosen by the Perak Department of Education (“JPP”) and the Ipoh City Council (“DBI”) to represent Ipoh City.

In Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Rokam, eight of us were initially chosen to participate in a workshop specially set up to choose two representatives for the school. We were asked to discuss and speak on various issues in English. At the end of the one week workshop, Noramirah Natasya and I were fortunate to be chosen to represent our school. Pn Nafzah mohd Noor, my headmistress then informed my parents, En Mohd Azmi Othman and Pn Fairuz Hasan of the good news and my parents met up with Pn Raja Fatimah, to find out on my preparation for the interview with DBI and JPP

We then underwent a short intensive training in English and Perak’s heritage and culture with our English teachers, Pn Jamaliah Jamaluddin and Miss Cheah. Thereafter, we prepared a Curriculum Vitae for my interview with En Mior Khir Mior Ghazali of JPP and En Shahrulnizam Jaafar of DBI. I was quite nervous but I did my best and hoped that I would be picked by the interviewers. I am glad that over the years I had participated in many school activities, represented school in swimming, bowling, and hockey while maintaining a good academic standing in class. My experience performing cultural dances, dance dramas and choral speaking for Kelab Bakti Gunung Kledang Dinner shows also helped overcome my nervousness.

At last, the letter that I had been waiting for arrived. I was going to Japan! I was so excited that I started watching all the Japanese anime, making Japanese bread and looking up all the websites on APCC, Japanese language and culture, Fukuoka and facts on Malaysia especially Ipoh City and Perak.

In March all the chosen participants were given a briefing by JPP and DBI at Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Kinta. There I met my fellow Junior Ambassadors, Asyikin Mastura Mohd Amiruddin from Sek Keb Seri Ampang, Farrah Eiza Syazwin Bt Roslan from from Sek Keb Hj Mahmud, Chemor, Jaqueline Ong from Sek Jenis Keb (C) Perak, Dinesh Maheswaran from ACS, Ipoh and Muhammad Qarish Ismail Bin Muhammad Isa also from Sek. Keb. Sg. Rokam, We were given our schedule for Japanese lessons and dance practice for the next three months. We were also introduced to our chaperone, Pn Zawiyah Bt Bahari from JPP and En En Romzi Bin Zamri of DBI.

From then on, my life had revolved around the trip. Everyone had been so helpful in preparing me for the trip so that I can make Ipoh and Malaysia proud. I had dance practices with Cikgu Ibrahim and introduced to Japanese language by Mrs Lee every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon. There was the extra Japanese tuition with a Japanese language teacher, Pn Ainon every Friday night and trips to the local places of interest such as the Istana Iskandariah, Sultan Azlan Gallery and Masjid Ubudiah in Kuala Kangsar, Pasir Salak Time Tunnel in Kg Gajah,and Gunung Lang and the Old Railway Station in Ipoh.

As July grew nearer, my father took me to the Immigration Department to renew my passport and my mother helped prepare all the documentations as requested by MBI including a letter to my host family introducing myself, letter to the Japanese Consulate, letter from my school allowing my trip and copies of my Birth Certificate and passport.

At school, my headmistress had asked me to speak in front of the school assembly where I told them of the preparation that I had gone through for the trip. I was very touched when the Parents’ and Teachers’ Association of my school had donated RM160 to me whilst the school had also generously donated another RM160 for the trip.

My parents continuously tuitioned me on the various aspects of Malaysia especially Ipoh and on 5th July, 2008 we held a kenduri doa selamat attended by relatives, friends and teachers. This was the second gathering held for my friends and I as earlier on Uncle Amiruddin Tajuddin and Aunty Suzana Khairuddin, parents of Asikin Mastura, had hosted a dinner for us and family attended by all those involved in our preparation for APCC, a Japanese family living in Ipoh and Dato’ Mohd Nor Khalid (Dato’ Lat) who gave a brief introduction to Japan.

The new Mayor of Ipoh, Tn Hj Roshidi Bin Hj Hashim had also hosted a function to bid us farewell on the 8th July 2008 where we showed off our beautifully choreographed dance performances especially for the Mayor, our family and teachers. When we had our photographs taken by the journalist covering the event, I realized that the big day was near.

This is my journal.


CHAPTER 1
IPOH CITY COUNCIL, IPOH
“The adventure begins”

Day 1
Wednesday, 9th July 2008

So it was that on the afternoon of 9th July 2008, the big day finally arrived and my family and I loaded my bags into the car. My mother had been so busy that she forgot to mend my costume for the performance and had our maid sew it just before I left. We were in such a rush that my father was worried that I left anything else.

We arrived at the Ipoh City Council Building at 1.00pm and found some of the other participants already there. We were given stickers and tags for our bags and quickly boarded the bus. Other than Kak Ayu of DBI, and Pn Yanam who initially helped us prepare our documents and some of our family members also joined us on the short trip to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I had both my younger sisters, Syifa’, 9 years old and Widad, 6 years old with me. My parents would later drive and meet me in KLIA.

En Shahrulnizam of DBI gave us our final briefing and reminded us to take good care of ourselves while En Mior advised us to make Ipoh proud. At last at 1:34pm the DBI bus left the DBI compound and I excitedly waved my parents goodbye. I was off to my great Japanese adventure.

CHAPTER 2
FROM KLIA TO FUKUOKA
“Junior Ambassadors”

The bus trip was very exciting and everyone cannot wait to get to Japan. After a few stops we arrived at KLIA at 4.30pm. My parents were already there and greeted us when we got down from the bus.

We quickly pushed our trolleys full of bags to the check-in counter for Singapore Airline Flight SQ119. After that we all joined our family members who were there to send us off. I was very happy because my grandmother, a number of cousins and even my little niece were there. They were all very excited for me and everyone gave me lots of advice to stay healthy and to take care of myself. My father then gave me some Japanese yen and some American dollars for my trip. I thought that the size of the Japanese Yen was very big and felt very rich because I had thousands of Yen on me as ¥300 equals to RM1.00.

At KLIA we also met the Malaysian team who were casually dressed for the trip. The Ipoh team looked like grown ups in our matching DBI t-shirts, caps, blue blazers and dark pants. I am glad because I think En Mior is right, it made us look very discipline and organized.

At about 8.00pm. En Romzi called us to gather round and took a final group photo before we leave. I said goodbye to everyone and although I was a little bit sad I was also proud to represent Ipoh for this APCC.

As we passed through the Immigration, my family waved goodbye and shouted to me to take care of myself. At 9:45pm, SQ 119 left KLIA for Singapore. It was a good flight and I did not feel nervous as I had taken trips to Indonesia and Australia before. On board I also read my mother’s note to me to take care of my self and not to forget my solat. I felt sad as I missed her. I sat with two Malaysian team members and found out that the Malaysian team had just met each other about a week before. They were surprised to hear that the Ipoh JAs had been practicing hard for the last 3 months.

At about 10:57.p.m. we arrived at the Singapore International Airport in Changi and we stayed at the Airport for a 2 hours transit. At the airport we met the Indonesian and Singaporean teams who were also going to take the same flight to Fukuoka. It was getting more and more exciting as we got nearer to Japan. I was meeting JAs from other countries and like me, they were equally excited.

At last, after eating some burgers at Burger King and washing up, we left Singapore Airport at 1:00.a.m. on SQ 656. It was a long 6 hours flight. The cabin crews were very nice to us and gave us some souvenirs for the trip. I sat next to Qarish and Farah. We watched “Drillbit-Taylor” a comedy that kept us laughing for the next hour.

Then I remembered that my mother asked me to rest so that I arrive fresh and rested. It was actually too exciting to sleep but I soon went to sleep as it already 2.00 a.m. Malaysian time.

CHAPTER 3
MARINE HOUSE, FUKUOKA
“We are the bridge”

Day 2
Thursday,10th July 2008

Suddenly, I heard the announcement that we were going to land shortly in Fukuoka. We quickly washed up after a simple breakfast of vegetarian meal, which I mistakenly ordered thinking that it was the Muslim diet.

We arrived at the Fukuoka International Airport at about 6:57.a.m. Even though it was very early it was already very bright. No wonder they call it the Land of the Rising Sun. We quickly collected our bags and came through the Immigration. We were happy to see some volunteers shouting “Irasyaimasen” “Welcome” and waving their fans at us under the 20th APCC banner with the words “We are the Bridge”. We looked for the Ipoh placard and were greeted by a very cheerful volunteer who made us take photo in front of the banner that was later posted on the APCC website and then lead us to the awaiting bus.

We took the bus to Marine House, a training complex besides the seaside. We shared the same bus with the Indonesian team. During the short journey I saw a very clean modern city with tall buildings and Japanese writings. It looked very different from Malaysia though I saw a Jaya Jusco.

We arrived at Marine House at about 8:00 am. There, we were greeted by more Japanese volunteers. They were all very cheerful and kind. We went to the Orientation Hall with 3 other teams. They were Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. There we were assigned our rooms. My room number was E131. My room leader was an 18 years old Japanese boy from Tokyo by the name of Takuya Watanabe, but we all call him Takuya. When I arrived at my room there were already 3 students from Oakland, USA and 2 students from the Republic of Kiribati. The Malaysian team was the last piece of the puzzle.

The room was very clean and it had 4 double deckers. I slept on one of the top bunkers with Qarish under me, while Takuya slept on a futon bed on the floor. As the room had 8 students from different countries, we spent the whole morning introducing each other’s country. I distributed the leaflets on Ipoh, Perak and Malaysia which I brought to my roommates. They all enjoyed the leaflets and said that Malaysia is very beautiful. I was very proud. I also distributed some stamps and key chains that I brought along as well as shared some ‘rendang daging” or shredded meat which they found very hot and spicy.

At about 12:00p.m. we all ate lunch at the restaurant. It was a big dining hall and we had to line up fore our food. When we got there, there were already many other Junior Ambassadors (“JAs) of all shapes and sizes from all over the world. Africans, Americans, Australians, Chinese, Japanese, Indians and many more. Some were so tall that I could not believe that they were 12. Everybody were talking and laughing. After lunch of some soup and chicken rice we all made our own bed and rested in the room until 5:30pm. Actually I only had the rice without the chicken as I was not sure whether it was “halal”.

At 5:30 pm we had a bath. We tried the Japanese bath. We had to take off all our clothes and took a shower first before we all go into a big hot bath tub. The Japanese call it ‘Ofuro’. My friends and I found that the Ofuro was very relaxing although it was quite embarrassing at first. After the bath, we ate dinner.

That night, I discovered that the sky had no clouds, it was very clear. I could not believe that I was in Japan. At 9:00pm we went to bed.

Day 3
Friday, 11th July 2008

We woke up at about 6:45a.m. and got ready for the morning assembly. The morning assembly is at the Central Square of Marine House. There were about 600 people there and we started the morning assembly with a morning exercise. We followed a volunteer along with a Japanese song. It was fun. Apparently Japanese people always exercise every morning before they start work. I think it is a good culture as it made everyone fresh and healthy. After that the Australian JAs gave a presentation on Australian sporting culture. They spoke very well and it was very informative.

After that we all had breakfast and went to the Play Hall. It is a big hall full of toys. Takuya introduced me to some Japanese toys. I found that I like to play the Kendama. It is a Japanese traditional toy where you bounce a ball and try to put it into a hole. I enjoyed the session. About 12:00p.m. we ate lunch and after that continued playing with the different toys again. I kept getting hit by beach balls, dodge balls and basket balls. Everywhere people were playing and having fun.

After dinner, at about 8:00.p.m. an 11 year old Japanese student joined our room. His name was Yosuke Sato. He was from Fukuoka. Yosuke was friendly. Before going to bed he taught us origami. Origami is a Japanese art of folding paper. I learnt to make a Japanese bird, the crane. It was quite difficult at first but I manage to do it anyway. That night I went to bed at 10:00pm. I missed home.

Day 4
Saturday, 12th July 2008

I woke up at 6:00am and got ready for the morning exercise. After that we had our breakfast. I then went to the Play Hall to play Kendama with Takuya and Qarish. Dinesh was not well and had to stay in the Medical Room for 3 days. I stayed in the Play Hall until 12:00pm and then we had lunch. I had soup, beancurd and salmon. It’s a good thing that I love Japanese food, so food was not a problem for me.

After that, we got ready for the “We are the Bridge” party. I wore Baju Melayu Perak while Qarish wore the Baju Melayu Johor. Dinesh joined us for the party in a pair of Dhoti, an Indian traditional costume. The girls, Farah, Asyikin and Jacqueline each wore the Baju Kurung and cheongsam. They looked very nice. The Malaysian team wore Batik shirts.

It was a great party full of singing and getting to know other JAs better. Everyone wore their traditional costume. I was very proud of our national costume and many JAs took pictures with us. It was a very colorful party and I learnt about the traditional costumes and dance of other countries especially Japan. That was also the night that my camera broke when I was jumping around having a lot of fun. I was worried that my mother will be angry with me. Asyikin was very kind to lend me her camera as she had brought her video camera along and she thought that it could be used to take photos too. (When we got home, we discovered that the photos in the video camera turned out very badly. I feel very guilty about it.)

We then learnt the melody and wordings of the official song for the APCC called, “We are the Bridge” song. The song was very beautiful as the lyrics was about connecting and understanding each other better. That night we all slept like a baby.
Day 5
Sunday, 13th July 2008

It was a very special day because we went to the Yamakasa Festival. After breakfast, Yosuke told us about the Yamakasa.

After breakfast I went to visit Dinesh at the Medical Room and helped the volunteers talked to him as they could not understand his Malay. We asked Dinesh to come along as he would miss a very special day. I am glad he agreed. Maybe he felt a bit better.

We went to the Yamakasa Festival at 3:00pm. When we were at the festival, we saw many people running along shouting”Oissa, Oissa”. Some of them were carrying shrines. We all threw them water to relieve them from the heat. It was very sad because after the Yamakasa festival Yosuke went back. We came back to Marine House at 5:00pm .That night after our nightly Ofuro bath, we slept early.

Day 6
Monday, 14th July 2008

Today we had a Sports Festival. The weather was nice and hot. We all gathered at the Central Square where we were divided into 4 teams. I was in the red team and our mascot was a wizard. The first event was the Caterpillar Race. The second was Running Poles. The last one was Flying Balls. I was in the Caterpillar Race and the Flying Balls. In the Caterpillar Race we had to roll in a circle cardboard and move it as quickly as possible, looking like a giant round caterpillar from outside. It was very funny as we kept tumbling around in the cardboard and we cannot see anything in front of us. In the flying balls, we had to throw as many balls as possible to a person who was holding a bucket. I have played that game before in Malaysia. Our team was number 2 in the Sports Festival. I had a lot of fun and made many friends. We exchanged our personal cards and asked each other to keep in touch.

At the end of the Sports Festival, Qarish, Dinesh and I were interviewed by some news reporters from the local television. They asked whether we have ever been to such events and whether we were enjoying our stay. I said yes. A translator helped translate some of the questions and our answers. It was such a wonderful day that that night we slept quite late.


Day 7
Tuesday, 15th July 2008

We woke up at about 6:35 a.m.. That was the only morning that there was no morning exercise. It was a sad day because it was the last day at Marine House. We all packed our things. After packing, we all went to breakfast. After breakfast, all the Ipoh JAs gathered in the girls’ room to make a goodbye card for Masako and Takuya. Masako is Ashikin, Farah and Jacqueline’s room leader. I said thank you to Takuya and wrote that he is a good leader and invited him over to Malaysia.

Later I was surprised to find out that Takuya didn’t sleep last night doing a card for us. He was also surprised when we gave him the goodbye card. After that we wrote messages on each other’s APCC t-shirt. Then we went to lunch.

After lunch we went to make origami in the Play Hall. I learnt to make a piano and plane origami. It was supposed to be the fastest origami plane in the world but mine did not go very fast. That night we slept early as we were going to have a long day tomorrow. We packed some of our things and exchanged souvenirs and gifts. I received some key chains.

CHAPTER 4
HOST FAMILY – THE FUJITAS
“A Japanese Way of Life”

Day 8
Wednesday, 16th July 2008

We woke up at 6:00.a.m. and finished our packing. That morning after we ate breakfast we carried our luggage to the Central Square where everyone was gathered for our final goodbyes. When it was time to go, we all cried because we had such a great time in Marine House. I had a very nice room leader and had a wonderful experience with the other participants of the 20th APCC in Marine House. I boarded a bus together with the rest of the Ipoh JAs and waved goodbye to Marine House.

After about an hour, we arrived in a school. There we saw a small crowd waiting for us. They were our host families coming to fetch us! I was very happy to meet my host family, the Fujitas. My little host sister’s name was Momoka. She was 6 years old. My little host brother’s name was Kentaro and he was 9 years old. My host mother’s name was Mina but she told me to call her Mama. My host father’s name was Fujita, he was a policeman but he didn’t come because he was at work. They looked like a very nice family. I was glad. Although the children spoke little English and my Japanese was not very fluent, Mama’s English was alright and we could understand each other.

That night we had dinner at Pn Zawiyah’s host house. Mama Mina was her cousin. The apartment was near the school and I could see Ohari Park from the window. The view was very beautiful. After dinner we went back at 8:00pm. On the way back we stopped by a mini market to buy watermelon for tomorrow’s breakfast. The shop had all sorts of Japanese food stuff. It smelled different from a Malaysian shop.

When we arrived at the house, I was surprise to see that the house was very high. It was a square shaped 3 storeys block and had no gate around it. Its color was grey and had “Fujita” written on the door. On the 1st floor was a Japanese room where Papa studied, on the 2nd floor was a dining room with kitchen, a living room and the Ofuro room. My room was on the 3rd floor. I shared a room with Kentaro and Momoka. I slept on a futon bed. It was very nice and felt like home.

That night before I went to bed I met Papa for the 1st time and presented the Fujitas with souvenirs from my family. My parents had sent a silver mug and vase, a mengkuang notebook, a mengkuang traditional mat, a mengkuang purse with a batik scarf, batik place mats, t-shirts, fan and some food stuff like rendang and banana chips. They were very happy and surprised to receive so many gifts. As I went to sleep I remembered my family back home in Ipoh and wished that I could speak to them and tell them that I was fine and happy.

Day 9
Thursday, 17th July 2008

That morning I woke up at 4:10a.m. because it was such an exciting day and I wanted to see the sun rise. I washed up but had no shower because the Japanese only have 1 bath a day before they go to sleep. Today’s breakfast was Misou soup, egg, raw salmon and for side dish we ate the watermelon that we bought last night. I enjoyed the breakfast because I like Japanese food and this was the first time I had a home cooked Japanese breakfast. I also made the family some Milo. Kentaro and Momoka loved the Malaysian Milo. After breakfast we watched TV for a while.

We went to school at 7:10am. Mama packed us some vegetables, mushroom curry and rice for lunch. The Kusagae Sho Gakko Elementary School was right in front of my house and I walked to school with Kentaro, Momoka and Mama. The school started at 8:00.a m. but first Mama took me to see the headmaster in his office where I gave him my school’s souvenirs, a scroll, some keychains together with some leaflets on Ipoh, Perak and Malaysia. My headmaster said thank you and he put the zoom in telescope from Ipoh Tourism outside his office for the other children to see.

At school I felt like it was not school. The children were very polite, disciplined and attentive. They wore their own clothes to school and carried the same satchel bag. Apparently only secondary school children wear uniforms. I stood out like a sore thumb and was quite warm with my long sleeved blue school uniform complete with DBI tie and cap. But it was okay as I was very proud of my uniform.

I joined Kentaro’s class and introduced myself to them in Japanese. I also answered some questions about myself and Malaysia. They wanted to know if Malaysia is beautiful (yes), how old I was (11), is Malaysia like Japan (yes and no), can you understand Japanese (a little bit) and many other questions. I sat with Kentaro and hoped that he was proud of his big dark Malaysian brother.

The first period at school was Syushin. It is an art of writing Japanese characters. My class teacher Ms. Satohara showed me how to use the brush to write the character “sato” which means “star”. Later she hanged my writing up on the wall as she said it was good. I was happy.

During breaktime, Kentaro introduced me to dodgeball. I tore my shoes because although it was fun, the game was quite rough. I stayed at school until 1:00pm. I went back with Kentaro and Momoka.

We all had lunch at home and after that we rested. At 5.00 pm. I went for a Syushin tuition class at the tuition center. The Japanese are very serious about their culture I wish that we preserve the Jawi writing like that too. The tuition was fun because everybody was nice.

After dinner that night, I went into the Ofuro with Kentaro and even Momoka. I love the Ofuro although it was slightly smaller than the one in Marine House. We went to bed at 9:00pm.


Day 10
Friday, 18th July 2008

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and I opened all the windows. The sun was rising and the sky was beautiful. I ate breakfast with the family and rested until 8:00am when we went to school. At school, my friends gave me some origami as presents. I realized that the Japanese love handicraft and appreciate gifts which are made by ourselves. I felt very happy because they took the trouble to make me the origamis. They also gave me a letter but I didn’t understand it because it was written in Japanese.

When it was recess time we all played dodgeball again. After recess, we had a swimming competition between the classes at the school’s swimming pool. The swimming pool is quite big but not very deep. My class got 1st place. My teacher said the class got number 1 because of me. I was happy. I went back home with Momoka and Kentaro.

After lunch at home, I got ready to go to the bank to change my U.S. dollars into yens. After that I went to the ¥100 Plaza. All the things in the shop cost ¥100 which is about RM3.00. I bought a couple of gifts for family and friend back home like scrolls, fans, chopsticks and Japanese origami papers. I hope I bought enough gifts. After that, we went to eat ice cream.

We went back home at 4:30pm because at 5:30pm Kentaro and Momoka had Kempo class. Kempo is Japanese martial arts. The coach is very friendly and kind. I learned some moves for fighting. The children in the class were quite young. Again I realized that the Japanese are very good at preserving their culture and heritage. We went back early because Mama had to make dinner.

That night I discovered that Mama’s cooking was very delicious. As the Japanese word for delicious is “oishi”, I said “oishi” many times that night. I was very full and slept soundly by 10:00 pm.

Day 11
Saturday, 19th July 2008

I woke up at about 5:00am. We had breakfast and got ready for school. That day was a very special day at school. Before going back, there was a closing ceremony for the school summer holiday. During the closing ceremony, I introduced myself in Japanese in front of the whole school. They were all very surprised that I can speak a little bit of Japanese. I said thank you to the headmaster and my class teacher who were very kind to me. I went back with Kentaro and Momoka and said goodbye to my cute classmates. I also discovered that there was an article on me with a photo in the latest edition of the school weekly paper.

Today Kentaro’s grandma came and cooked us lunch. It was very delicious. Grandma went back home at about 5:00pm.That night I slept quite early because tomorrow there is an APCC Dance Festival at the local shopping mall and we have to perform our dance in front of the local audiences. Kentaro and Momoka were excited to see me dance.

Day 12
Sunday, 20th July 2008

Today I woke up late because Mama told me to wake up late and have a good rest before the show. We ate breakfast and I got ready for my dance. I wore my dance constume from home and went to the shopping mall around 11a.m. in a car with the Fujitas. Pn. Zawiyah went there by bus. When I arrived, Dinesh and Qarish were all ready there. Farah and her family went shopping while Jacqueline had just arrived at the same time as Asyikin. We waited for Farah to finish shopping. After that we went to eat some buns and got ready for our dance.

There was already a huge crowd watching the show when it was our turn to perform. We were very nervous. Pn Zawiyah told us that we were going to be alright. When our team’s name was called and we got up on to the stage, I was thinking “Am I going to do it right? Am I going to fall?” Thankfully, we performed well but were only allowed one performance as the organizers were running out of time. After our dance we were the only team interviewed by a local Japanese newspaper reporter. My host family was very proud of me. We took lots of photos.

After the show, we went our separate ways again. Dinesh followed my host family and I to the Pokemon Center in Canal City. The Pokemon Center was so huge. It was like heaven for Pokemon fans like me. I wished that my friends back in Ipoh were with me, they would have enjoyed it too. There were all kinds of toys and so many latest products that cannot be found or are very expensive in Malaysia. I bought some Pokemon card games and some Pokemon chip coins. They cost me ¥5000, about RM150. I did not have enough money to buy some of the other amazing things I want although they are much cheaper compared to Malaysia.
After that we went to the Arcade Games Center. Momoka and I had a lot of fun together. I was having so much fun that I accidently lost sight of my Pokemon shopping bag Mama then reported for my missing bag but we never found it. I was very sad and promised to take better care of my stuff. After that we went home at about 5:00pm. After all the excitement, that night we slept early.

Later I found out that after I went to sleep, my auntie, Mak Una called Mama to find out how I was. My auntie can speak Japanese very well because she used to study in Japan. So Mama told her that I was well and that I was having a good time. Mama also said that she was happy that I love Japanese food.

Day 13
Monday, 21st July 2008

Today I woke up at 5:00 a.m. We ate breakfast and then rested. Momoka and I made origami. Today we only stayed at home. Papa showed a photo of the Ipoh team in the local newspaper. He bought me an extra copy to bring home so that I can show it to my family and friends. The article also quoted me saying that we had practiced very hard for the show. That is very true and I am glad we did because we did a good show.

That night we had a family sushi party. The Japanese called it ‘Temaki Sushi’. During the Sushi Party we had to make our own sushi. I made all sorts of sushi, they were very delicious. I realized that it was quite easy to make sushi. I must show my family when I get home. That night we slept at about 11:00pm.

Day 14
Tuesday, 22nd July 2008

I woke up early today as APCC was having a big 20th Sports Festival and Farewell Party for us. We went to the hall early and joined the Ipoh team there. The hall was full of JAs and all the oher participants and volunteers of the 20th APCC. I was glad to see them again.

I was in the white team while Kentaro was in the yellow team. I played a lot of games like baseball, skipping ,basketball and ‘dom ,dom pa’. “Dom dom pa” is a Japanese traditional game. Everyone had lots of fun as we knew that was the last time we would gather.

After the Sports Festival there was a big “We are The Bridge” Farewell party. It was a very grand party where the local Governor and his wife graced the event. There was even a performance by a local songstress with lots of beautiful lighting effects and Japanese traditional drums for the grand finale. We all sang the “We are the Bridge” song very loudly as we knew it was time to say goodbye to the 20th APCC, the best APCC ever! I was crying when I saw Takuya for the last time.

When we got back Mama got ready for a Welcome Party for me. Pn Zawiyah and a few of Mama’s and Kentaro’s friends came. One of them gave me a chocolate cake that said “Welcome Umar”. We had so much fun. That night Kentaro’c cousin Syun and his sister also slept over. During the party my mother called and spoke to Mama to say hello and asked how I was. I managed to speak to my mother and told her that I was alright. She reminded me to say thank you to the Fujitas for taking care of me and told me not to worry about souvenirs for the family.

That night I slept well and thought of how much I was going to miss the Fujitas when I get home. They were so kind and nice to me. I hope that one day they will come to Malaysia.

Day 15
Wednesday, 23rd July 2008

Today we all woke up early. We had breakfast and we got ready to go to Uminonakamichi Park. It is huge water park in the outskirt of Fukuoka. We went there at about 8:00a.m. with Kentaro’s baseball team called Kusagea Juniors. We had so much fun especially at the big slide. I tried the “Dr Fish” where we put our legs into a tub full of fish and the fishes would pick at out feet. Initially it was quite uncomfortable as it tickled but after a while, I liked it. I thought my feet were much cleaner after that. It was a very enjoyable afternoon. I wish Ipoh has a park like that where families can come to and enjoy a day out in the park.

We went home at about 1:00pm and we got ready to go to lunch. We went for lunch at a foodcourt. I ate a seaweed soba. Soba is a Japanese traditional mee. I loved it. Kentaro ate ramen . Syun ate Korean rice.

After lunch, Papa took us to the Fukuoka Tower. It is about 356 metre tall. From up there we can see all of Fukuoka. It was a beautiful sight. I bought some souvenirs at the shop. After that, we went to the 2nd highest carouselI in Japan. It is like the Eye on Malaysia where a ferris wheel turns round and round allowing riders to see Fukuoka from different angles. I enjoyed the ride very much.

That evening, Papa let us play fireworks in front of the house. Kentaro and Momoka love fireworks. I told them in Malaysia it is illegal to play fireworks. In Japan fireworks is often used in their celebration. I had spent a very enjoyable day with Papa. He is a very kind, brave and hardworking man. Once, he was even in the newspaper for catching a thief.

It was the last time I saw Syun and his sister. Mama helped me pack my things later that night and after that I had an early sleep. I felt sad because it was time to go back home. I am going to miss the Fujitas.

CHAPTER 5
THE FLIGHT HOME
“Sayonara”

Day 16
Thursday, 24th July 2008

I woke up early and got ready to go back to Malaysia. Mama gave me a Japanese night shirt, the Jin-bei, and Kentaro and Momoka gave me souvenirs for my sisters. They also sent gifts of Japanese tablecloth and scrolls for my parents as well as Japanese tea. Papa gave me a bundle of Japanese characters which I was so happy and touched to receive because I know that it was part of his own collection.

I put my bag in the car and took pictures with Kentaro and Momoka in front of my school. I said goodbye to Papa as he cannot send me to the airport. I said thank you very much, kissed his hands like I would do to my parents in Malaysia and bowed down low to show my respect to him the Japanese way. Mama, Kentaro, Momoka and I then left for the Fukuoka Airport at 8:00 a.m. and arrived at the Airport at about 9:00.a.m. We met the rest of the Ipoh team there and did some last minute shopping at the airport.

When it was time to check in, the Ipoh team took a photo infront of the APCC banner with our host families and then said our goodbyes. It was very hard to say goodbye to my host family. Although I only stayed with them for a week, I felt very close to them and it was as if I was really part of their family. Kentaro asked me not to leave and I cried as I hugged Mama, Kentaro and Momoka goodbye. We all cried as we waved and said Sayonara to them as we went in.

At 10.15 a.m. we left Fukuoka, Japan on SQ655. I looked out of the window and said a silent goodbye to Fukuoka and promised to come back again. In the plane we were still crying and talking about our wonderful adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun until it is almost half way to Singapore. We arrived in Singapore at 3.50 p.m. Singapore time. This time our flight to Malaysia was at 4.20.p.m. and we did not have a long transit time in Singapore. We then left Singapore at 5.00.p.m.on SQ116.

At about 5.55.p.m. Malaysian time, we landed safely in KLIA. Although we were starting to miss Japan, we were all very happy we had arrived at our homeland. We quickly collected our bags and headed for the arrival door. I immediately saw my family waiving at me. I felt very lucky for now I not only have a family in Malaysia but also another Japan. This time I also cried, but not tears of sadness like in Fukuoka but tears of happiness to see my family and I then realized how much I have missed them.

CHAPTER 6
IPOH , PERAK
“Fukuoka Dreams”

A day after arriving home, I was back in Ipoh. At night I would close my eyes and remember Marine House and the friends I made especially Takuya. I would sing the song “We are the Bridge” and realize what it really means. I remember the Fujitas, and their kindness in making me feel at home. I love the Japanese way of preserving their culture and heritage through the Kempo and the Suisyin classes. I saw how they lead simple lives and enjoyed the outdoors. I love their food which is simple and healthy. I appreciate their beautiful language, song and dance and their colorful festivals. I like that they are very cheerful, respectful and gentle. I realize that after meeting so many children of different culture and background at the APCC, misunderstandings can easily happen and it is important to understand and respect each others’ cultures better.

Of course, I also miss the dance practices and Japanese language classes. I remember how our parents would help out each other when it was time to send and pick us up for practices. I wondered when I would see them again. So it was very exciting when we got together again on 11th August 2008 at the Farewell Dinner for the Japanese transfer students at the Swimming Pool Arena in Ipoh. I hope Dinesh, Jaqueline, Farah, Asyikin, Qarish and I will stay friends as what we had experienced together was very special.

I hope that in the future I could go back to Fukuoka as Peace Ambassadors of APCC and visit the Fujitas again. I hope that the Fujitas will come and visit my family in Malaysia. I hope that the programme will continue and many more Ipoh children will get to go and experience what I had gone through. I hope one day, Ipoh will form the local BRIDGE CLUB and foster understanding and promote peace and harmony in Malaysia. It is true, we the children, “We are the Bridge”.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS



I wish to record my personal appreciation to all who have helped me realized my trip to Japan, especially to;

Ayah, Ibu , Kakak Hannan, Syifaq and Widad;

The Fujitas, Fukuoka, Japan

Pn Hjh Nafzah, Pn Raja Fatimah, Pn Naemah, Pn Jamilah, Miss Cheah, teachers and friends at Sek Keb Sg Rokam;

En Mior Khir Bin Hj Mior Ghazali and
Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri Perak

En Shahrulnizam B Jaafar and
Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh;

Pn Che Zawiyah Bahari

En Romzi Bin Zamri

Cik Ayu;

Cikgu Ibrahim;

Mrs Lee;

Pn Ainon;

and all my friends.


ARIGATO GOZAIMAS







WE ARE THE BRIDGE


Sometimes its hard to make a friend
We talk but words keep us apart
But with hope and love and understanding
We find we speak the same language in our hearts

This world has room for us all
And we could be one happy family
So lets stand hand in hand
And sing our song together
And we can make it better wait and see

WE ARE THE BRIDGE of love from heart to heart
We have a dream for everyone to share
All our tomorrow bright and new
Starting here and now me and you
The Bridge we build will take us there

WE ARE THE BRIDGE of love from friend to friend
A rainbow bright when all the rain is through
And if we listen to our hearts
Keep our eyes upon a star
Then some day soon all our dreams will come true

Sometimes the road may seem so long
We walk but there is so far to go
But each step will take us there much closer
So don’t give up we’ll be there before you know

The world is home to us all
And we could be one happy family
So lets stand hand in hand
And we can make it better wait and see

WE ARE THE BRIDGE of love from friend to friend
A rainbow bright when all the rain is through
And if we listen to our hearts
Keep our eyes upon a star
Then some day soon all our dreams will come true

And when we are lonely and feel a little lost
If we just care for one another
You know there are no fences and no borders we can’t cross
When we are joined together

WE ARE THE BRIDGE of love from heart to heart
We have a dream for everyone to share
All our tomorrow bright and new
Starting here and now me and you
The Bridge we build will take us there

WE ARE THE BRIDGE of love from friend to friend
A rainbow bright when all the rain is through
And if we listen to our hearts
Keep our eyes upon a star
Then some day soon all our dreams will come true

And if we listen to our hearts
Keep our eyes upon a star
Then some day soon all our dreams will come true



"
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