Youth embark on Japan inter-cultural trip

“FIRST and foremost, I would like to congratulate all of you on being confirmed to be selected as JENESYS participants!” said one of the JENESYS Coordinators (Youth and Sports Department).

Twenty-three participants were selected to be JENESYS participants for seven days in Tokyo and Hakuba, Nagano. Not only did the individuals come from Brunei, but also Indonesia, Timor-Leste and the Philippines.

As a participant, I still cannot believe that I got to take part in the JENESYS2018 programme. A huge feat considering that I’ve never been on a flight in my entire life. The whole trip had been a thrilling moment and provided lots of experiences for me to share. This journey is definitely my most spectacular achievement of 2018!

The flight from Bandar Seri Begawan to Tokyo, including the transit in Singapore, took nearly 12 hours. Overall, it left us to arrive at Japan’s capital roughly at 6am (an hour earlier than Brunei’s time).

During our seven days with the JENESYS programme, we learned the in-depths of Japan’s history, culture and their rise to modernisation by visiting the Edo-Tokyo Museum, attending lectures by Professor Kazunori Akaishi of Takushoku University and visiting Shibaura Institute of Technology. Not only did we visit Tokyo city, but we got to experience the reality of culture in a Japanese village.

Brunei delegates at Hotel Fukuracia Harumi, Tokyo
Members of the Brunei delegation learn Japanese calligraphy

The village itself is called Hakuba, and it takes about two hours to get there from the city using the Shinkansen (Bullet Train).

Hakuba is located in the Nagano Prefecture with the population of roughly 8,809 people. It is well known for its alpine resorts and high quality snow, thus making it able to have hosted the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games and the annual FIS World Cup races. And this is where the moments that I will always cherish!

All the programme participants spent three days and two nights living in Hakuba at a home-stay with a host-family.

During these five days, we’ve experienced so many things. We got to go skiing which is the villagers’ favourite sport.

Then we ate at their best Oyaki (Japanese dumplings) place and visited the oldest Buddhist temple in Nagano called the Zenkoji Temple.

Next, we witnessed the 44th Hakuba-Goryu Snow Festival that only occurs once a year.

We then visited the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium where the Japan team won the gold medal in the Nagano Olympics.

Last but not least, we got to wear the iconic and traditional Kimono and learned how to write Japanese calligraphy.

Japan is certainly one of the most amazing countries to experience, especially to learn about the people’s side of reality way beyond our own tourist speculation. Not only is the country well known for their famous Sushi or technological developments, their culture as well is what makes them unique. I feel astonished by their culture that they are still able to preserve the honour and respect of the elder’s generation. Truly it is so amazing, so much so that I’m at a loss for words. All I have left to say is that I am so grateful to have this opportunity in learning and experiencing the remarkable country of Japan! Siti Nabilah binti Md Alam