Learning from Nonoichi

Mokairau Station visit by Nonoichi students. File picture (2014)

RECENTLY at Lytton High School we had 12 students from Gisborne’s sister city Nonoichi in Japan come to visit. This was an opportunity for the students to experience our rich culture and improve their English.

The exchange has been going for many years now between Nonoichi and Gisborne and usually happens every two years.

I was a homestay host for one of the students for the four nights they were here in Gisborne. My billet and I taught each other a lot about the differences of what it’s like to be a teenager in New Zealand compared to Japan.

There was little things that surprised them a lot about my life in New Zealand. Little things like classes and what we wore.

During the school week we took them to see things like a farm and Morere Hot Springs. On the Saturday we had the whole day to show them what it’s really like here in Gisborne as a teenager.

A group of friends — including other Nonoichi students — and I met up at McDonald’s, like we would usually do at the weekend. We took them to clothing stores, to get sushi, and souvenir stores.

After looking around town we walked past the beach. They were really amazed at how blue the sea is. Apparently in Japan the sea is very dirty. Another thing they were surprised about was that there was only one boy and many girls hanging out. Apparently that doesn’t happen in Japan.

“Three girls and three boys are allowed. Three girls and two boys . . . maybe, but seven girls and one boy — no,” my billet told me.

Schools are also very different in Japan. My billet is 15 years old, so she is in Junior High School. She explained that school starts at 8:10am and finishes at 4:50pm. They have seven 45 minute periods a day. Which is very different compared to Lytton’s 90 and 50 minute periods. It doesn’t end there though.

After school they have to belong to a club, such as badminton or English. Students don’t get home till after 6pm.

Then there is also a lot of homework.

Their classrooms are set up like our exam halls. The seats are separated in rows facing a blackboard so they can’t talk to their friends — our tables at Lytton surprised them.

They also aren’t allowed to pierce their ears, wear make up, or eat in class and have to tie their hair up. So seeing our school was a very different experience for them.

I can see that we tend to have a pretty cruisy school life compared to in Nonoichi. My billet told me she really enjoyed the class visit and would have liked to spend a whole day attending my classes.

Lunches were a lot different too. She said in Japan they have milk and bento. Here, she had a sandwich, chips, a muesli bar and an apple. Our new friends from Japan were surprised about what we were wearing with it being winter. We were wearing jeans, a T-shirt and jacket in the weekend and at school we had skirts, shorts, school shirts and jackets. They were surprised because when it’s winter in Nonoichi they have to wear long and warm clothes, not T-shirts — they were constantly asking if I was cold.

We made lifelong friends from this experience. I have learned a lot and had a lot of fun. I hope to go to Japan on the next trip with Lytton to learn more about Japanese culture.

RECENTLY at Lytton High School we had 12 students from Gisborne’s sister city Nonoichi in Japan come to visit. This was an opportunity for the students to experience our rich culture and improve their English.

The exchange has been going for many years now between Nonoichi and Gisborne and usually happens every two years.

I was a homestay host for one of the students for the four nights they were here in Gisborne. My billet and I taught each other a lot about the differences of what it’s like to be a teenager in New Zealand compared to Japan.

There was little things that surprised them a lot about my life in New Zealand. Little things like classes and what we wore.

During the school week we took them to see things like a farm and Morere Hot Springs. On the Saturday we had the whole day to show them what it’s really like here in Gisborne as a teenager.

A group of friends — including other Nonoichi students — and I met up at McDonald’s, like we would usually do at the weekend. We took them to clothing stores, to get sushi, and souvenir stores.

After looking around town we walked past the beach. They were really amazed at how blue the sea is. Apparently in Japan the sea is very dirty. Another thing they were surprised about was that there was only one boy and many girls hanging out. Apparently that doesn’t happen in Japan.

“Three girls and three boys are allowed. Three girls and two boys . . . maybe, but seven girls and one boy — no,” my billet told me.

Schools are also very different in Japan. My billet is 15 years old, so she is in Junior High School. She explained that school starts at 8:10am and finishes at 4:50pm. They have seven 45 minute periods a day. Which is very different compared to Lytton’s 90 and 50 minute periods. It doesn’t end there though.

After school they have to belong to a club, such as badminton or English. Students don’t get home till after 6pm.

Then there is also a lot of homework.

Their classrooms are set up like our exam halls. The seats are separated in rows facing a blackboard so they can’t talk to their friends — our tables at Lytton surprised them.

They also aren’t allowed to pierce their ears, wear make up, or eat in class and have to tie their hair up. So seeing our school was a very different experience for them.

I can see that we tend to have a pretty cruisy school life compared to in Nonoichi. My billet told me she really enjoyed the class visit and would have liked to spend a whole day attending my classes.

Lunches were a lot different too. She said in Japan they have milk and bento. Here, she had a sandwich, chips, a muesli bar and an apple. Our new friends from Japan were surprised about what we were wearing with it being winter. We were wearing jeans, a T-shirt and jacket in the weekend and at school we had skirts, shorts, school shirts and jackets. They were surprised because when it’s winter in Nonoichi they have to wear long and warm clothes, not T-shirts — they were constantly asking if I was cold.

We made lifelong friends from this experience. I have learned a lot and had a lot of fun. I hope to go to Japan on the next trip with Lytton to learn more about Japanese culture.

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