The 2nd and 3rd graders at my school have each taken 学年旅行 (school year trip). The 2nd graders are traveling to Hiroshima 広島 to see the Peace Memorial Museum/Atomic Bomb Museum and experience rafting. They left this morning at 7am and won't be back for two days.
The 3rd graders are embarking on an even grander adventure to Okinawa 沖縄. Each year the third grade students take off on a trip usually in the spring. For the past ten years they have visited Okinawa. Okinawa is to Japan what Hawaii is to America. It's the resort and beach adventure for Japanese who want to escape and enjoy the steamy weather of tropical Okinawa.
The 3rd graders left this morning at 10am from Kobe Airport. They will fly to Naha, and from there they have 3 full days of events planned.
For those of you reading who think this sounds like fun, the reality is it's more like a tour from hell. Prior to the trip, the teachers and students spent 3 or 4 days preparing for their journey. They went to the gym and practiced boarding the airplane, they practiced marching in line, getting on a train, and so on. Some teachers used bullhorns and timers to check their speed, and several students were scolded severely for being slow.
Teachers have it rough as well. They usually have to guard the students at night until the wee hours of the morning to make sure no incidents occur. That means taking turns standing guard outside the rooms, monitoring toilet breaks and god knows what else. Students get maybe 2 hours a day for free excursion time as all other activities are scripted to the letter. They won't be going to the beach at all, even though they will be in a very beautiful beached area. It's more like a military tour of duty than a school trip.
The second graders will suffer much the same sort of experience as well. Though their trip will be even more depressing as they will visit that Peace Memorial Museum which shows the tragedies of the atomic bomb and see those horrendous photos of WWII.
So that leaves me stuck at work with nothing to do. The first graders are in the gymnasium all day today. They are receiving lectures about this and that and they will have a cooking contest tomorrow. I will be a judge and get to eat 7 or 8 different kinds of dishes. But for today I am bored out of my gord. Needless-to-say it has been rather Zen like today, and I have gotten some peace whilst being in the teachers room. For three hours today I have been the only soul in the teachers room and it has been rather nice. The weather is great, so I think I will take a walk today after lunch to stretch my legs.