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Japan Travel Rotary Group Study Exchange Goes to Japan, Article One The international organization referred to as Rotary

y promotes yearly travel that all people in between the ages of 26 and 40, male and female, and of all backgrounds ought to know about simply because its a Rotary-funded six week study aboard and anybody can apply to be a component of this substantial life encounter. If you're this age group you could enjoy the type of encounter thats described in my notes in this article. To discover out much more about the program go towards the international Rotary website and search for GSE Group Study Exchange and contact your local Rotary Club for much more info. April 9th Saturday, and 10th Sunday, in Japan: The GSE 2005 Exchange Trip started on April 9th . My GSE Team Members Harry Abbott, Julia Vasileyva, Antonio Verges and Monica Koller gathered in the gate to board the plane at San Francisco International Airport to begin our journey to Fukuoka, Japan. It was a long flight 14 hours having a layover in Nagoya. When we arrived, we were welcomed by our Japanese hosts such as Mika, Izumi and Ai and it was fun to see the sign welcoming the GSE Team that they had posted at the arrival gate. It was about 7PM within the evening on Sunday 3AM on Saturday at house and they took us by automobile through the streets of Fukuoka to our hotel for two nights, the Nishitetsu Grand Hotel. We felt an earthquake after shock as we checked into our rooms Hisa San said that it was a welcome shock. The team crashed for the night, in anticipation of a full day tomorrow. April 11th Monday: Up early this morning ready to start the day, and in this big city I could hear the roosters crooning. I walked a few blocks down the street for my first cup of Starbucks coffee in Japan (need to admit it tasted good) and enjoyed the bustle on the main street of Fukuoka. On with my team blue blazer, and armed with many gifts to take to our hosts (including Kona coffee from Teri in half pound bags) we assembled for a Japanese style breakfast back within the hotel. I first noticed how gracious its here gentle bowing, smiles, many to escort you and a people connection that looks you within the eye and sees you (I like that). I'm feeling comfy here. Oh, my gosh we're blessed with experiences. The team members are elated. We met with Mika San and she outlined every of our plans whilst we're here, the host families that we will be staying with, and also the areas that we'll go to. They say that the months of April and Might are the best months to be here lucky us. Fukuoka is really a city of 1.7 million individuals and the island of Kyushu is about 280 miles long and 350 miles wide. We will leave Fukuoka tomorrow and go to Rotary Locations 6 and 7 that are more rural. The cherry blossoms had been in full force as we headed down the river this morning. Our first quit was the American Consulate. We met using the Principal Officer & Consul for the U.S., Joyce Wong. She talked about her responsibilities to the State

Department and her assignment here for three years. Also about how popular Fukuoka is simply because people here have a positive outlook and welcoming hospitality. The Prefecture (which is like our state) is recognized for growing teas, sweet strawberries, fruits and vegetables and also the best seafood in Japan. It produces one third of the worlds semi-conductors and is component of the Silicon Sea Belt (like our Silicon Valley) and produces about 1 million autos that find their way to the U.S. market. Fukuoka was named the most livable city in Japan, she says. We comment on what a beautiful and clean city that its. Next we're off to the Fukuoka West Rotary Club lunch meeting and most notable, there are no women in this club imagine that. We meet Dr. Hirohata, who is the incoming District Governor and he says the he has a Japanese/Boston accent! A RI Director, Mr. Suenaga is from this Club. There are about 140 members, and also the club is 50 years old but not the oldest club within the City. By the way, the District has about 3700 Rotarians, and less than 1% are women something to consider here. The video that Harry put together highlighting each of our team members worked well to show who we're, since we're limited in our language communication. It was a very stiff mens Club with formality that we didnt understand. We were received in the Governors office within the afternoon (ie. the equivalent of Arnolds office in California) and spoke with the Director of International Affairs and learned concerning the Prefecture and also the Japanese government. The women got dressed tonight with high shoes as component of their look and once in the restaurant we were barefoot like all the rest. Our hosts had a party for us at the restaurant Kanzan and it was lovely. Our hosts had been so fun they laugh a lot, tell jokes and are very playful by contrast. 1 host told about his first trip towards the U.S. He ordered a grapefruit on the plan and he expected to get a grape fruit and what came to him was something that looked like an orange we all laughed hard at that 1. We were hosted by Tomoshige Tachibana, his wife and daughter and he is the current District Governor. He spoke fondly about meeting our District Governor, Ron Sekkel and Cindy and we presented him using the gift from our Rotary District. There were about 30 people at the party, including some of the families that we will be staying with. And, Kenji Ogawa (Ken) was there he'll be the incoming team leader when this District sends us a team next year. His team has already been picked and we will probably be meeting them later. We're always amazed in the beauty of the presentation of the foods here and know that the diet is going to take a few pounds off of all of us. The presentations are in Japanese, so we miss some of the communication that doesnt get interpreted and many of the people we meet arent conversant in English but its better than our Japanese. The evening opened having a beautiful traditional Japanese dance and included plenty of sake and beer to make the evening merry. It was a very full initial day. April 12th Tuesday: After breakfast and luggage in the lobby we headed for the train station to leave Fukuoka and travel into the countryside. Dr. Maruyana took us on the train to Omuta and the Omuta Rotary Club.

The room was set western style, and with about 60 and again no women in this Club. Julia, Monica and I stood out within the room. As Izumi (Dr. Maruyana) and I talked about women in Rotary he pointed out to me that it is not only an issue of gender but also 1 of class that has limited women in Rotary here. He was kind and stated that there are not very many of me here meaning that woman have not generally had the access towards the economic structure here that I have had in the U.S. Also that women are not considered within the higher class of the society that Rotary chooses its membership from here. Interesting its hard for me to hold my tongue. I point out to the Club as I speak that my Club looks very different than theirs that my Club has 50% women. And further, that numerous men in America had trouble with this change, that some left Rotary in protest but that they generally love women in Rotary now. They shake their heads and someone interprets that they are saying, no women here. They ask what classifications of women join our Club. They dont think that this will change in the future. Izumi says that he is radical that he thinks that this change is necessary and that the worlds future requires it. Back on the train much like our trains only very clean we continue down the line to Kurume City. The houses are getting bigger (with Shogun-style roofs) and there are lovely mountains in view. We're going to Nishi-Nippon shinbun (Newspaper) where we meet with a reporter who asks about us and plans to do an article within the largest newspaper. Its a walk from there, with the wind blowing hard, to City Hall and the Mayors Office. The Mayor joins us and we learn that the picture to accompany the newspaper article is taken with the Mayor in his office and his warm welcome. Izumi has a beautiful house with some western looking rooms, along with a room that we gather in and sit cross legged around the table. Japanese sweets and tea is served and computers in mass come out to see what we've recorded for the day. Embarrassing to tell but I went upstairs towards the bathroom, and pushed the wrong button on the toilet and water shot all over the ceiling imagine. They have it all over us in toilets here they're heated and do all kinds of things. Last night in the dinner, Mr. Tanaka served as a Japanese metaphor for me. He put a chopstick on the table then intended with his mind, as he says and moved that chopstick six inches in the air without touching it. But that wasnt all, he borrowed someones watch and by putting his hands on both sides of it and intending using the concentration of his mind he moved the time forward by an hour! Amazing. Harry San, Monica San, Julia San, Antonio San and I go off to our host families from Izumis house and started our Japanese stay. From here you will probably be hearing from each of us individually with unique experiences and I'll continue to talk about the things that we're doing together. So lucky I'm staying with the Tanakas. Much baggage is moved and everyone goes off happily, with my cell phone number as needed. Ai picks me up, with the Tanakas and we are headed to a very special Japanese style restaurant and much more small plates of food than I can eat. Quickly, though, following dinner we decide that we're going to head to the Hot Springs wow am I prepared for

that. We enter a building with a womens side and a mens side peel off to get within the warm pools, yes it soothed. By cab we drove to Ogori and the hundred year old house had been the Tanakas live. I'm staying in a room to myself with a futon bed and slept very comfortably. Within the evening we laugh a lot as the translation goes back and forth with Ai translating because the Tanakas dont speak much English. I think that his business is importing and exporting, but not sure but they travel and Mrs. Tanaka has many of the same brands of clothing that I recognize, from her trips such as a beautiful Italian suit that she was wearing. Once I was in their house, all had been very relaxed and genuinely hospitable we're well cared for here. This write-up is really a series so read on and many days follow in our splendid adventure! By on Japan's economy