Nara JETNet 15th Event
Asuka Friendship Hike
On October 15th 2005, Nara JETNet held its fifteenth international event, following a hiking trail around Japan’s oldest capital, Asuka. The event involved a total of 61 Japanese participants and 49 JETs of various ages and backgrounds. It received especially high praise from Japanese and JET participants, as it allowed them to have meaningful exchanges in a relaxed atmosphere.
At 8.30am, participants started to arrive at Kintetsu Asuka station, and received name tags. JETs and Japanese participants were divided into six groups of approximately 8 JETs and 10 Japanese participants.
At 9.15am the hike officially got underway, with the JETNet Chair giving welcoming greetings and a brief explanation of the day’s event; the hike would included a 1 hour break for lunch close to the Tachibane-dera temple, and the participants were scheduled to arrive at their destination - the Asuka-dera temple - at 3.00pm. To encourage people to chat during the hike, groups were encouraged to complete a quiz that not only featured questions about Asuka, but also contained interesting information about JET participants’ home countries.
In order to help avoid congestion, groups departed at five-minute intervals. As it was the first time for many Japanese and JET participants to hike in this historical area, the first hiking group placed ribbons on the path to mark the trail for the other groups to follow. (In order to keep the path clean, the last group took them down.) The two-and-a-half hours before lunch were filled with all sorts of different conversations ? humor from around the world, deforestation, and elementary school education were among the numerous topics that were batted around amongst the participants.
At noon, the groups took a much awaited lunch-break close to the Ishibutai Old tomb. After an hour, it was time to depart on the second and final leg of the journey. The rain started pouring relentlessly so everyone went straight to the Asuka-dera temple which they explored before taking a bus back to Kintetsu Okadera station.
Due to heavy rain and the groups separating at Asuka-dera, it was not possible to collect the usual questionnaires from the Japanese participants. JETs could take the online survey afterwards. Nevertheless, according to some of the conversations heard during the day, a lot of Japanese participants said that it was their first time participating in a JETNet event. All participants commented that they had a wonderful time and enjoyed the hike, before it started to rain. Some commented that even though the quiz was a good way of starting up conversations, it was difficult to complete while hiking. Many mentioned that they would like to participate in future JETNet events.