Tuesday, December 25, 2012 @ 2:11 PM
Japan Trip Day 5!!
22 December
9:30am - We left Ramada Hotel

10:00am - We reached Osaka College of Music (OCM) Museum. We were led by the dean of the college for a tour around the museum, showcasing the various instruments from a variety of countries. We were allowed to try out the different instruments. It was a eye opening experience because we were able to try out various instruments like the musical saw, harpsichord and accordion. There were even some instruments that were made from human skulls. Interesting, right?!!!!

11.30am - We had lunch at their canteen. There were a wide array of food choices like ramen, hamburger steak and curry rice etc. We needed to clear after ourselves and be responsible for the mess we created.

1pm - We had rehearsal at OCM, before our master class. As it is our first time with a guest conductor, we were nervous and forgotten some parts during the rehearsal. After which, Professor Kitano conducted us for Gavotte and Cincinnatus March. Although he did not speak a lot of English, it forces us to listen more intently to his instructions. For those parts we were unsure of, he made us sing it out several times before playing repetitively. At one point, we were told to close our eyes while playing so as to listen out to each other more. Most of us benefited from the master class.
6.30pm - We arrived at the Izumi Concert Hall for Kinki University's Orchestra concert. It was a new experience for us, as it was an Orchestra, which many of us had never seen before. Overall, it was a great experience for us.

On the way back to the hotel, after giving comments about our performance, Mr Ong told us to "Remember to Remember" the lessons learnt at the master class.

Sign off, group 2

@ 12:31 AM
Last day in Japan
All good things come to an end. Since its the last day we were going to spend together in Japan, we had to make good use of it. To end off a great trip, we headed to breathtaking Kyoto! The band had to wake up early in the morning and embarked on a long coach ride, but it was all worth it.

Our first destination for sightseeing would be the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is a Shinto shrine.

Upon reaching the entrance of the shrine, we washed our hands with water using the ladles given.

Next, we where given a opportunity to have our wishes fulfilled. All we had to do was to toss a 5 Yen coin, shake the bells, bow twice and clap twice and make a wish. The 5 Yen coin is associated with good luck and great fortune.

We then went further up the shrine through unusual paths made out of toriis.

Further up, there was a many of us tried to lift a special stone. it is said that if the stone was lighter than what you think it would be, then your wishes would come true, but if it is heavier than what you think it would be, your wishes would not be fulfilled.

After the trip to the shrine, we headed to the Kyoto International Manga Museum! It was heaven to manga and anime lovers. There were shelves filled with almost every manga and Gachapon machines everywhere to dish out souvenirs of manga characters if you have 200 Yen to spare. Everyone scattered around and immerse themselves into the world of manga!

After having a interesting time exploring the Museum, we headed for lunch. Lunch was simple! A bento set
with udon at the side.

After lunch, we had quite a bit of time to shop for souvenirs that are more traditional. the array of goodies was phenomenal, the were gifts like bamboo flutes. There was a shop that sold really good ice cream, those who tried the ice cream sang praises of it.

As soon as our shopping spree ended, it was time to make our final destination to the Kansai Airport where our fantastic journey first begun. It was sad to leave Chiyaki-San our tour guide behind as she had been a great guide.

We took a final group photograph it was time to board the plane and fly back to sunny Singapore.

After going though 2 flights and a 3 hour stopover at Hong Kong, our band finally collected our luggage and instruments and headed back to JJC. We had a final debrief and we were dismissed.

This concludes our journey as the tiny band with epic dreams to Japan. We all had learnt many lessons and had forged unforgettable memories together. Through this 7 days, we have become way less divided and much more bonded!

Friday, December 21, 2012 @ 11:35 PM
USJ & Mini-Christmas Party
Here we come, Universal Studios Japan(USJ)!

The day we had been all looking forward to have fun. It is also the only day we had to travel by Japan public transport. This wasn't an easy task as we had to walk fast and keep together on our way there. It was an enriching experience for all of us as we were exposed to a different side of the Japanese culture. Also, we learned to not leave anyone behind as one band.

We took a train to Universal City station where USJ is located. As soon as we got there, Mr. Ma bought and handed up our tickets and we took a group photo by the "Universal" globe. We had roughly 6 hours to try out the rides.


                                                                         Train ride!

We split into 3 groups and proceeded to have fun! :D

There were many exhilarating rides that we had the chance to enjoy such as:

Space Fantasy

Hollywood Dream

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The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
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Jurassic Park

Hello Kitty's Cupcake Dream
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Snoopy's Great Race
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Flying Snoopy
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There was even a Christmas parade where we got to interact with the performers.

At 4 o' clock, we went back to Osaka station and then took the subway to Shinsaibashi station. We then split up again to do our separate shopping. It was a rainy cold night! There were many many many shops there. They even had the Daiso we have in Singapore but its a newly opened one with 3-storey. We then met back outside the subway at 8pm. We really shopped a lot!

Then we headed back to the hotel via subway. After staying in the hotel for 4 days, we finally found out the hotel is directly connected to a subway! Lol

Anyway, we had a mini Christmas party in Jun Wei's and Samuel's room! We wore Christmas hats, had some snacks. They were throwing the snacks around to brighten the atmosphere. And of course, we took pictures! Afterwards, we celebrated Miss Lim's and Jun Wei's birthday! We had a mini cake to fill our stomachs as well.

Looking forward to the master class at the Osaka College of Music (OCM) as well as the concert by the Kinki University Orchestra tomorrow!

Thursday, December 20, 2012 @ 11:12 PM
Japan OELP Day 4
19 December
Waking up to the alarm at 6am, we rushed down to Neuf Neuf restaurant downstairs at 6.30.
By 7.30, we had to get ourselves ready and up the bus, with instruments and bags in tow. From there, we made our way to Wakayama, where the Koyo High School are situated. When we arrived at the school, we were brought on a tour personally led by the Vice Principal, Yukawa-sensei. Yukawa-sensei was once a conductor, and thus, was visibly enthusiastic about the exchange that lay ahead. He told us about the history of Koyo high school, about how the 100th Year Anniversary was drawing near, and how many of their students excelled both academically and co-curriculumly. They prided themselves upon the achievements of their baseball club, which had gained many awards in the past.

The VP, Conductor of KHSSB, Mr Ong.
In a middle of a Maths lesson
In the school library
In the baseball field

Their band was overall champion in the Wakayama prefecture's local competition for the past 30 years consecutively, which was rather intimidating to a tiny band like us. Looking at how they could excel in both their academic and co-curricular pursuits, we were shown that it is possible for people to do well in more than one thing, as long as they put their hearts and sweat into it. We were brought around the school on a tour and attended their mathematics, D&T and music classes. We could see that they paid they full attention to their sen-sei and even our arrival into their classroom could not lead them into transgression. Undoubtedly, we were astounded by their determination to do well in every aspects of their lives.

The music class was an eye opening experience for us. We were led to sit among the Japanese students and was give two music scores - WHITE CHRISTMAS and YOU CAN DO IT! the former being more choral and the latter, body percussion. After the stretching exercises and vocal warm-ups, we bounced into singing the given songs. The body percussion session was the highlight of the lesson. Like, seriously.  Lengwei, Emilia, Meihui, Irfan and Shawn went up to the front of the classroom to play the songs using their bells. Everyone had fun. The enthusiasm of some of the students let us understand that we should have fun doing what we doing, and should not let embarrassment be a barrier for us in our lives, be it playing a game, taking part in class discussions or playing a solo part for pieces. 

We then moved on to the band practice. We sat in for their warm ups. It was mouth-gappinng because some of them could actually keep their notes always in tune, and know about how sharp or flat they should play when playing chords. After warm up, we played a few pieces from our repertoire, Cincinnatus March, Zapin, Postcards from Singapore and All I Want for Christmas. After playing our pieces, we were led to the front of the room, to hear their performance. It was awesome, and their enthusiasm and expertise could be seen the clarity of their playing, and the gimmicks that they added into the song.

After which we went to Marina City, Kuroshio Market, a fish market, to have our lunch which was shortly followed by a show of Tuna cutting demonstration. The demonstrator was so skilled that he left us in awe and pure astonishment.

The visit to Wakayama Castle was indeed memorable. Seeing all the original amour and footages during the 1850s to 1860s, images of actual warfare gushed into our mind. On our way out, we were required to remove our shoes before stepping foot on the Ohashi Rouka Bridge. Following in on, we took numerous photos in the Japanese garden. We sure had lots of fun!

"We are careful in our heads" (LOL)
Enjoy the video of failed jump shots on FB page :)

The bus then brought us for Yakiniku buffet for dinner. The hands-on experience of barbecue and making of cotton candy in this cold weather climate is certainly etched in our minds.

Everyone was in high spirits on the way back to Ramada Hotel, Osaka for a good night rest. Yet again, we had another fruitful day of learning. Lets all remember to also apply these things we learnt when we return.

Tiny Band with Epic Dreams.

Group 3, signing off~

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 @ 9:01 PM
Japan OELP Day 3
19 December (GMT +7)

7.30am: Morning Call!

8.00am: Most people having breakfast around this time at Neuf Neuf-buffet style.

9.00am: Meet up at Ramada hotel lobby to go for sightseeing at Nara Deer Park.

10am: Reached deer park. There are many deers there and the scenery very the nice. Amusing! We can never get into such close contact with so many deers back in Singapore! Some people bought deer food (cookies w/o sugar) to feed them @150Y. All of us took a walk in the park & took lots of photos. Although it was freezing cold, we still ate ice cream cause the ice cream just won't melt!

Group photo @ deer park!

11:30am: We made our way to Tezukayama High School and had our lunch with the students there. They were very friendly and took good care of us.
(& for the first time for most of us), we saw snows!! Though it's little, but still!
After that, we had a band rehearsal with the students there which we sightread a piece - Santa Claus is coming to town - conducted by Mr Ong. While we are playing, we realized that the band members there were very in sync in their running notes. We think that we can learn from their teamwork and improve on our playing further.

This is followed by a short Q&A session were they can ask question about us and vice versa. Through this session, we learnt that they have 3 practices/wk, 1.5 hour each.

We had sound check after that. During the sound check not all of us played to our fullest potential, which we think that it can be improved by more practices.
After which, we had our mini exchange concert. The MCs there abruptly asked JJC band to give a welcoming speech but we did not anticipate for it, thus, did not prepare speeches. However, one of our MC, Irfan still managed to do a impromptu speech for us and it was quite well delivered.
Even though there were few mistakes made during the concert which can be further improved on, we managed to complete the concert in success. During our concert, Tezukayama's band did a wonderful job as a great audience with good concert etiquette. We think that we can learn from them and put this etiquette in full use as we go for the concert @ Izumi Hall by Kinki Universitry Orchestra this Saturday.
Then, it was Tezukayama's Band turn to perform. They performed the sound of music medley. It was spectacular! Their articulation was clear and their intonation and dynamics was wonderful. We need to work towards that!!

A way to welcome us to Tezukayama High School

4pm: After the mini concert, we had a school tour in different groups around their high school. It was interesting to see facilities that are not available in Singapore.

 Japanese Calligraphy

 A typical classroom setting seen in Japan

5pm: We had tea time with them and it was time to interact with people from same sections. They prepared food and drinks for us and were really excellent hosts! Even though its hard to communicate and awkward at times, but music really bring us together and slowly we began to interact. By interacting with them we learn more about the Japanese culture too.
Bassoon, Euphonium & Tuba section
Horns section
 Oboe & Flute section
A full combine photo :)

6pm: We left the school and had dinner at Downtown Osaka. We were told to split up into groups and learnt to take care and look out for each other. We had separate dinners according to what we like to eat. After dinner, we headed back to the bus and everyone was on time, good job! Our band had certainly acquired punctuality aspect from the Japanese. We learnt a new word, Okini!!

8pm: We headed back to the hotel and prepared ourselves for another exciting day.

Sign off, group 2 (Jane, Ernest, MeiHui, Audrey, Valerie, Diyanah, LengWei, Ernest, HouYee)