A letter from Lily Oving, our Youth Exchange Student in Japan:

Hi Everyone,

I've been at school for just over half a month now, and it's really fun.  I was invited by the kendo team (a Japanese sword fighting sport) to join in their practice today. My host mom bought me all the equipment I'd need and borrowed the armor (since it's really expensive) despite me insisting that I could buy it myself. A couple of days ago, I went to a tea ceremony and then was taken to a hotel restaurant for lunch. I would never be able to afford to eat there, as it was one of the most expensive hotels in all of Tokyo. It was delicious, though. I keep feeling bad about all the money they spend for me to participate, but the response is always the same: "Don't worry about it, it's fine." Except in, you know, Japanese. Speaking of which, I can converse pretty well with the people around me, although I still don't understand most of what they're saying unless they're directing it at me (then they slow down and use easy words).

We had a sports festival and it was really fun, though the events weren't really conventional sports so much as really weird activities (like the four person three legged race in box formation). My team won first place. My rotary club had a meeting for my arrival on a dinner boat the other day, and it was amazing. One of the Rotarians gave me two tickets to Tokyo Disneyland for me and whomever I want to take. Finally, my host family has been taking me to all sorts of traditional Japanese things, like temples and shrines. They even managed to get me into a parade for carrying a portable shrine around town. It was heavy and my shoulders hurt for days afterwards, but it was really interesting. By the way, usually you have to be at least 20 to participate in carrying the shrine, but they made an exception for me. Though, they kept trying to offer me alcohol. I'm having a lot of fun here.

Lily Oving

Kawasaki Rotary Club