Last Thursday was the first grade school trip, in all my years of school trips this was a league of its own… it was like no other I had ever experienced.
We left at 7.45am, six bus loads of screeching students and a collection of over organized teachers and we began a gloomy snowy 2 hour journey to Agigasawa. On the bus the home room teachers sorted the students into numerical seating arrangements and each was assigned a big red bib with their identity number. Once the bus pulled up the students filed out in perfect order into the thick white clouds of snow. We started the day with an opening ceremony (of course) and then the students were grouped off and assigned to instructors. No free skiing that would be out of control and far too stressfully disorganized. I tagged along with different groups throughout the day (to spread the English encouragement) and had the best day ever. The students were so happy, so smiley and so so excited. Every time I passed a group they would screech at me and I would join them for a bit. Most students were complete beginners but there was the odd impressive group. Then of course there were the groups that looked like they would be deadly, with all their amazing kit and turns out some of them had never even used it before! Throughout the day you would pass men with the same bibs on but with huge cameras, five photographers where spread over the mountain just for Nishi Koko; in Japan photographing a trip like this is just as important as the actual event. Over lunch time when you arrive into the canteen with red cheeks you get a lens in your face, guaranteed. For a shy nation they take this constant intrusion so very well, I on the other hand was trying to hide in any corner possible to eat my ramen without cameras recording my every slurp.
The entire ski resort of Agigasawa was crammed with school kids, all with their own unique bib color and reference number. What a great thing being a school kid in Aomori and having this fun opportunity to learn to ski!
To say the bus ride home was quiet would be an under-statement. Sleeping babies.