Monday, November 04, 2013

Branden's 6th grade over-night trip to Hakone, Japan

Branden had his 6th grade over-night trip to Hakone on October 31st (on Halloween hahaha). And would be arriving back to our town Friday, November 1st evening. In Japan most schools have a 5th grade over night trip and a 6th grade over night trip, as well. Of course obviously it varies from school to school. But if you have a younger elementary school child, maybe this info will be at least be a tad helpful and something just to keep in your mind for future use. : ) Branden brought home a note about a month beforehand, explaining about the trip and what each child needed, how much the trip would cost?, etc. Just a very informative, detailed letter. The letter said, to bring snacks for the bus (a long 3 hour bus ride there and 3 hour bus ride back). To bring 1 bag or small carry-on size suitcase for their overnight essentials and then 1 street backpack for all the walking around they'd be doing and carrying of their omiyage (like easy to crush senbei or cookies), so better to bring 2 bags verses 1. Meaning you don't want your kid walking lugging their toothbrush kit, shampoo kit, pjs all over the temples and about town and such, if you know what I mean. So yeah 2 different bags. 1 for walking and 1 for carrying the essentials (next days clothes and bath towel). Also the note did say to make sure you pack your child 1 raincoat or mini umbrella (parents choice) and that's for possible rain and it did rain btw. And 1 coat because Hakone this time of year, is indeed chilly. Also, the cost of the trip again it will vary from school to school, but a good idea to at least give you a round about idea. The cost for the trip to Hakone was 20,000 yen (about $200 US dollars) and each child also would be expected to bring 5,000 yen (about $50 US dollars for lunch, drinks along the way and omiyage (gifts or souvenirs) Also the note said not to bring more then 5,000 yen either. The 20,000 yen covered night at the hotel, bus fee, and plus dinner for that night (they had steak and mashed potatoes salad and pudding etc) and they all went to a Chinese restaurant the next day, so the 20,000 yen covered that but not for lunch going to Hakone or drinks or snacks. Also each child would need to bring their thermos and the hotel filled their thermos before leave the following day. Again so this gave us, a good month (30 days) in advance notice to know the finer details. Noboru read through the list and as he read it to me, I wrote down on a white sheet of Xerox paper all the notes that I personally needed to remember, that I needed to make sure I got Branden ready for. And about 2 weeks ahead they sent home a letter that you either needed to sign and say, yes my child can go or no my child can't go. Of course everyone wanted to go, so we sent that note in right away, that yes Branden would be going.  And then the week before the trip, was when we needed to pay the 20,000 yen trip fee. We put that into an envelop the school provided and because it was such a large amount the school was collecting this only 1 day. So the week before on Thursday, we all sent our kids with the envelop with 20,000 yen in it. Anyway, so if you recall, after that big typhoon our family headed to Uniqlo to look for some pjs for Branden.

In Japan pjs are usually for the most part called "room wear", also now Branden is wearing a men's size small. He liked this color best and we (Noboru and I had to agree) very cute and that pop of color on the thermal top was great. They had a thicker more sweatpants type room wear, but these are perfect because they're not super thin thin, but they are sort of on the thin side and our house here at home can be a real oven in winter and so these are better. And something Branden can get more use from. The bottom of the ankle area on the gray pants was super cute too it had 2 ties per leg just very cute pjs. 

Branden had outgrown his last winter coat and he didn't get one for this year yet, so we bought him one at Uniqlo, in a small men's size. It says 5,990 yen but the day we went, they were on sale for 4,990 yen so a great deal. It is a down jacket, but it is super thin hence the ultra light down filled coat name. So they're warm without all the bulk that regular coats have. Plus we thought it would be great for this upcoming trip to Denver as well.   

Noboru also mentioned our trip to Denver and we want to pack light...so we should go and get Noah one as well. But Noah's still in kid sizes. We did pick him a size bigger then he usually is, his usual size is 130cm. But since coats need the extra room for all the bulky sweatshirts and sweaters and whatnot, it was better to get with enough room for the sweatshirts he'd be wearing so we picked Noah's in size 140cm. The cost of Noah's was a real steal at just 2,990 yen. Like $30 US dollars. The color choice we liked best for Noah was light orange. Noah's is a light poly filled down, but it's still warm and super cute. 

Orange and light orange. 

Branden's coat came with a small bag to carry the coat, again perfect for packing for Hakone or the upcoming trip to Colorado. 

All packed up. I did wash and dry the pjs for Branden. And I did make sure Branden was packed about 3 days before the trip. And that's just because I have a lot of other little things going on here too and plus getting ready for our Denver trip also. So this way I got the packing done and out of the way. 

Snacks, I thought this was way more snacks then he needed, but as it turns out, it wasn't enough. Branden said to me after he got back, that most kids had zero snacks for the trip back to Chiba. Because if they didn't eat them during the way there.... they ate them over that night in the hotel room, so again they had zero snackage for the bus trip 3 hour trip home. Again, I did feel badly, but I also made a mental note of it, so when it's Noah's turn I will pack double the amount and make sure to say don't open the 2nd ziplock until you are on your way home for example. : ) 

October 31st, the bus would be leaving our elementary school as in driving away... goodbye...the doors are closed...farewell... at 6:30am. So the meet up time, when everyone had to be there or else, was at 6:10am. However lots of Branden's classmates said they would be there by 6am. We woke up at 5am October 31st. And we left our house with a fully packed and ready to go Branden and a  semi-groggy still a tad sleepy Noah in his pjs. : ) Noboru was with us also, to see him off. We left our house at 5:55am. We got there around 6:03am. The boys next door's family left around 5:50am, we saw them drive away and we were like "ahh, they're leaving we better hurry!" hahaha. It was cold, foggy. But the kids were excited! Pic of the tour bus, they had come over, pick them up and drive them, the kocho-sensei (principal) went, the two 6th grade teachers, the school nurse, and a handful of extra teachers went along too. The kids bus seating arrangement was set, Branden and Genki and the Jinbei boy were to be sitting next to each other on the bus, so needless to say, they were super happy about that. They also were split in 7 groups for when they went to Kamakura and also in Hakone. Each group got 1 cell phone. The school rented 7 phones. Branden being the leader of his group was in charge of their phone. And they did meet up and have lunch some of the groups. Jinbei boy, was in charge of another group and Genki was in charge of another group.  Then they also had a sleeping group and it was 8 boys per hotel room, not sure how big each room was, but they slept on futons. And Genki and Branden and 6 other guys all slept in the same room.

Branden ready to leave. You know thinking back, when Branden was in yochien, and he had his first over night stay ever, I remember blogging about it and I cried and I missed Branden the whole night. Frankly speaking, I worried myself sick practically. : ) "Is he okay, does he miss me? Should I drive in my PJ's at 11 o clock at night and go and pick him up?" The next morning I saw Branden and he was beaming, clearly he was fine, and I felt like a real idiot of course! Granted hind sight is 20/20. Point being, I should have spent my night with Noah and enjoying myself with my youngest son versus worrying myself into hysteria, but live and learn right? Truly nobody is perfect. : ) And then when he went on his 5th grade trip, I made darn sure to enjoy myself. And not worry because I knew he was off having fun camping last year and he did have a blast. And so this trip, I was so so so happy for him! Not a pinch of sadness, truly only smiles. And yes when Noah was having his yochien trip I wasn't so worried either., It was just that first...first time if ykwim. 

The 6th graders taking a head count. And then we drove away. 

Branden was set to arrive, with his class, in the big bus, at our housing community at 5:55pm Friday, November 1st. So me and the other parents were all there and then we got a mass keitai/cell email, saying the bus would be delayed an hour, they were on the other side of Tokyo still, stuck in traffic. @.@ So we all walked back home. Then we got another email saying more delays. When all was said and done Branden's bus arrived at 9:05pm last Friday November 1st!!! They announced on the bus that in the history of our particular school no over night trip has EVER been this delayed before! Hahaha!!! : ) It was quite a long time to be stuck in traffic and like I said, the kids were starving and had no snacks and had not eaten a morsel since noon when they had lunch! Anyway, so this is the omiyage Branden brought back for all of us. Branden also brought back 1,060 yen. he said he didn't want to spend it all. @.@ Good kid good kid! But we told he he could and he should have. : )  Anyway...

Black egg face soap and the coaster to the left, Branden made himself, he said his whole class including his principal each made one. : ) 

He also brought us some black eggs. They went to the mountain and walked up and bought some, November 1st morning. I think they were 5 eggs for 500 yen. Branden ate one egg fresh and hot and brought us back 4. : ) Branden had 1 at home also and Noah ate one and Noboru and I also had one each. They say if you eat 1 egg, you can live 7 extra years, or something along those lines, don't quote me on it but something like that. : ) 

A charm for Branden.

What made me smile most was Noah was looking on with excitement what Branden brought back and Branden said and I brought these especially for you Noah!!!! They are handmade and everyone in my class bought some! Noah immediately felt how cool they were, especially if big 6th grade boys were buying them and the fact his brother brought him back a gift, especially for him. Noah was all excited and said, "thank you Branden, I will keep these in my night stand" (note his important things only go in there) and I thought awww, what good kids. They were very inexpensive and all but and sorry if it's cliche but it's true, it was the thought that counted. And theses were just the bees knees to Noah. : ) 


Cookies from Hakone on the left and cookies on the right from Kamakura. apparently these pigeon shaped cookies are pretty famous, I had no idea but Branden told us about these, also his teachers all told the kids about these and Noboru googled them and sure enough. Go figure I had no idea but the pigeon shaped cookies were delicious! So good!

And Branden also brought senbei back too. Branden was excited because he said they were fresh. : ) Anyway that was Branden's 6th grade trip in a nut shell. : )