A Business Trip to Fukuroda Falls

Last Monday, I took my first ever “business trip” …. to a waterfall. Yes, it was serious business.

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The point of the trip was to act like a foreign tourist who can’t understand Japanese (such a difficult role to play) and to have high school students guide us around the site, explaining in English any significant details. I was assigned to three sweet girls from a high school in Tokai, and I amused them all by playing up the role of “Tourist” and taking pictures of everything.

The event seemed to be a big deal. Maybe 15 high schools from around Ibaraki participated, each sending a handful of students. There was actually a camera crew assigned to this little trip as well! As one of the Tokai girls was explaining to me in nervous English how the waterfall freezes  over in the winter, the camera was shoved in our faces, filming our entire conversation. Hopefully the roar of Fukuroda Falls in the background of the footage hides the fact that she repeated all her statements twice.

The waterfall itself was amazing. It’s considered to be one of the top three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan, and it lives up to the hype. Monday, the day we visited, happened to be cool and rainy, so the green hills surrounding the falls were half-shrouded in cloud, giving the place a beautiful misty-mountain aura. And Daigo–the town in which Fukuroda Falls is located–is famous for apples, so my high school students and I enjoyed some apple sherbet ice cream cones after I dragged them on a 20-minute hike up endless skeletal mountain staircases for a different view of the falls.

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Overall, I thought the trip was a great way for high school students to use English outside of the classroom, in a real-world situation with foreign tourists. Plus, in the end, it was just a really fun day for everyone. Being so far away from Daigo, I was thrilled to have an all-expenses-paid opportunity to visit, and despite having visited Fukuroda Falls before, my students were all smiles.

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