‘The best experience of my life!’ That’s how local scout Rose Kirk has described her trip to Japan.
Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School sixth form pupil Rose, 17, travelled to the Far East to attend the 2015 World Scout Jamboree.
She says the visit - which included an emotional trip to Hiroshima - has left her with a host of memories that will last a lifetime.
She said: “My adventure to Japan was honestly the best experience of my life.
“It was such a sad feeling getting on the plane to come home but I have so many good memories from the whole trip.
“I would like to thank everyone who helped make the trip so special to me and I would do it all again, without hesitation!”
After a 12 hour flight to Tokyo, Rose caught a ‘bullet train’ to Kanazawa, the capital city of the Ishikawa prefecture which is on the west coast of Japan.
There, she met her Japanese hosts Mr and Mrs Takamura who did not speak a word of English but, fortunately, had arranged for a translator to be present.
Rose explains: “The mayor of Kanazawa held a welcome ceremony for us.
“There was a huge buffet with food and drink that we hadn’t experienced before, some of which was delicious whie some of it not so much so!”
Rose visited a local nursery school, a summer camp for children and an elderly people’s home which, she says, was much different than she expected.
While at the summer camp, she was taught to ride a unicycle.
There was also time for sightseeing in Kanazawa, including a tea party and a trip to the beach.
Rose adds: “The last morning I had with my host family was spent at a fish market where we tried Kanazawa’s most famous fish and we watched people cutting fish up - with swords!”
Rose and her fellow scouts - 120 made the trip from the UK - then travelled by another bullet train to the Yamaguchi prefecture where the jamboree was being held.
She explained: “After we had finished setting up our campsite, we went to the opening ceremony where there were over 35,000 scouts, all for the jamboree.
“We watched loads of Japanese acts, which included singing, drumming, dancing, and aeroplane displays.”
Rose tried several different sports - including ‘Dodgebee’ (dodgeball played with a frisbee) but a mountain hike was called off because it was too hot.
She describes the day in Hiroshima - the city devastated by an atom bomb in the Second World War - as ‘emotional and amazing’.
Rose adds: “The tranquillity of the park in Hiroshima was insightful, it was so beautiful.
“The dome, the last remaining building to survive the blast, was an amazing view. Being there in person gave you so much more of a bigger picture than books and the internet.
“All the scouts were taken into a hall, where people read poems and stories about the bomb,
“It was such an emotional day but it was an amazing experience witnessing Hiroshima in person.”
Overall, Rose says the atmosphere of the jamboree was unbelievable.
She adds: “Everyone was so friendly and I made friends from all over the world that I am still in contact with.
“The last day was so emotional, knowing I may never see these people ever again but at the same time I remembered all the great times I had with them.”
After the jamboree finished, Rose travelled to Tokyo for the final section of her adventure.
She says: “The view from our hotel room was stunning and we couldn’t help but explore that night.
”We only manage to circle the hotel but the atmosphere was sensational and we had seen so much in half-an-hour.
“ The next day we went to the Tokyo ‘Sky Tree’, one of the tallest buildings in the world, and the view was spectacular,
“You could see so far into the distance. There was also a glass floor that was nerve wracking but it was an astonishing sensation.”
Rose visited an earthquake centre and the famous Ueno Park which features shrines dedicated to Japanese warriors.
There was also time to tackle the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world which Rose admits was ‘scary’.
She adds: “We then left Tokyo early the next morning and went to the airport.It was such a sad feeling getting on the plane but I had so many good memories from the whole trip.”