Sunday, September 4, 2011


After the Pre-Departure Orientation in the Philippines and the General Orientation in Tokyo, we are now excited to meet our Japanese counterparts as well as visit many places in Japan. This time, the ASEAN-Japan Friendship Program Group A Science Students Group are now on our way to Kanagawa Prefecture and will be under the care of coordinators from JOCA, the Japan Overseas Cooperative Association.

The Japan Overseas Cooperative Association (JOCA) is an organization certified by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, composed chiefly of former Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers who have drawn on their skills and experiences to promote the welfare of those living in developing countries. In spreading the attitudes developed and experiences gained by JOCV volunteers for the benefit of as many as possible, JOCA seeks to play a constructive role in international society and expand the number of cooper ative activities, in addition to serving as a leader in international exchange and international cooperation with roots in local communities. To do this, JOCA draws on a network consisting of numerous organizations, including former volunteer associations.

Here is our schedule:

Our first stop is  Hakone, where we will have our Orientation and Lecture/Group Discussion on "Student Life in the Philippines" to be followed by sightseeing.

Here is a short description of Hakone, which I consider as one of the most beautiful places I have seen...very cold, clean, refreshing and with tall pine trees and with beautiful natural views of the mountain, lake and Mt. Fuji! 
We were booked at the Hakone Prince Hotel Lakeside Lodge and here we are:

This is in our cottage. It was a very cozy room and very fresh.
They also provided us with a Yukata, which I am wearing in the first picture. 
From Wikipedia: yukata (浴衣?) is a Japanese garment, a casual summer kimono usually made of cotton. People wearing yukata are a common sight in Japan at fireworks displays,bon-odori festivals, and other summer events. The yukata is also frequently worn after bathing at traditional Japanese inns. Though their use is not limited to after-bath wear, yukata literally means bath(ing) clothes.
I really loved the cottage for three, but there was only a faucet in our cottage. 

I guess, they wanted us to experience the public bath, which most of us tried as a very hot bath on a very cold night. I remember the Public Bath as divided in to female on my left and male on my right as we were facing this larger cottage. There was a large stone facing this, where we were able to sit on while waiting for others.

Then, in the morning, we headed to the hall for our orientation and group discussion. Our topic "Student Life in the Philippines" isn't exactly so toxic but it was a very good venue for us to share with the Japanese counterparts on school life, family life and life of teenagers and young adults in both countries. We got to know a facet of their culture as we got to know them as friends.
Orientation, Lecture and Group Discussion on "Student Life in the Philippines"

This is Hakone, a most romantic place, but that is not what we were there for. That is where we met very nice Japanese friends, who we are so happy to reconnect with after 24 years.
View just around the Hakone Prince Hotel Lakeside Lodge!
This is what I imagined the Alps in Switzerland would be... of course, the fog added to the effect that we knew we were away from our dear Philippines.

On to our sightseeing...and we were glad, our Japanese counterparts went with us so we got to know more about each other.

First stop is the Owakudani Valley.
From Wikipedia: Ōwakudani (大涌谷 lit. "Great Boiling Valley"?) is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in HakoneKanagawa PrefectureJapan. It is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity, and especially, Kuro-tamago (黒玉子?) — a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs. 
Access to Ōwakudani is via a funitel, the Hakone Ropeway. There is also a road to a visitor's center just below the Kuro-tamago hot springs site.
Owakudani Valley 
I remember "Sashin kudasai" and "Mou ichido"
for the number of times we had our cameras clicked...
of course, we had our cable car ride!!!
This is the Hakone Open-Air Museum.
Map of the Hakone Open-Air Museum

Hakone is a place I will always hold in my heart... the place, the friends, the sharing, the bonding! 
Still at the Hakone Prince Hotel Lakeside Lodge
Then, we moved on to Yokohama and stayed at the Holiday Inn Yokohama.

Part 5 will be on our move to Yokohama and the other activities lined up in Kanagawa Prefecture.


  1. congrats on this very vivid truly brings back memories of our month stay in japan. im looking forward to our group be glad to help so this would materialize.

  2. I was so inspired writing this as soon as Emil made the FB group.
    I am also very excited to our batch reunion.
    We will bring this up with the group.