High School - Japan, High School Abroad

A Fabulous Adventure Amidst Mad Weather in Japan

by Colleen McCollum, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad Participant in Japan

I woke up to thunder. It had been a while since I heard decent thunder (not since coming to Japan), so that already put me in a fantastic mood. Breakfast was steamed bread my host mum made last night. Yum. Then we headed out into strong rain. Rain, but not cold. Maybe sixty-some degrees Farenheit.

I got on a very crowded train (all the public transportation is deathly crowded on rainy days), and got off it and onto my second train unscathed. Halfway through this ride, the train stopped and the bus driver (amidst a thousand apologies) announced that the train had stopped due to heavy rain. We waited around for a few minutes (while I observed the baseball cap of a guy near me. He was in all black and looked pretty intimidating.┬áThe cap had a skull on it, but also pink flowers…), and finally we started moving again, at a slower speed than usual. It was all very exciting.

The rain had temporarily stopped, and there was a huge, gorgeous rainbow curving across the clouded skies. I was busy gaping at the lovely colors, and nearly ran into a line of people. Oh, just people waiting to ride a bus. But wait. There’s never a line over here. I craned my neck to see where the line started, and realized with a bit of disappointed awe that the line was, in fact, for the bus I ride, stretching out five times its normal length for this time in the morning.

I stood for a very long time. The rain started back up again, more softly than before. Almost no buses came. Was there something blocking the bus route? Finally, after a solid half hour, I squeezed my way onto a packed bus and squirmed through the many students and businessmen to the very back, where I was lucky enough to procure a seat. The bus started up, and moved a couple meters, and paused. And didn’t start back up. The intersection to leave the bus stop was filled with cars. We waited for a few minutes there, and then progressed a few car lengths, and stopped again…Repeat.

The cause for the traffic jam became apparent some twenty minutes later: part of the bus route, a stretch of normal neighborhood road, had become something between a puddle and a pond in the pouring rain. Muddy water three or four inches deep splashed across the road and against the sidewalks on either side. Cars were being allowed through one by one, at a snail’s pace.
Once we were through that nightmare, the rest of the ride was quick. We drove past the neighborhood tennis courts, which, because of their location in a valley-like depression, had become the bottom of another muddy pond.

Once we reached my stop, I stepped off the bus to a curious site: some ten or twenty students from my school, all gathered at the stop with cell phones in hand. I asked them what they were doing, and a girl in my homeroom class excitedly told me that not many students had reached school yet (despite the fact that it had started an hour ago), and if not enough students came by 9:45, school might be cancelled. So the girls were all waiting for that fateful time, while in constant phone conversation with their friends who had already reached their classrooms. After a bit of loitering, I headed toward the school. The rain had stopped, and the sidewalks were littered with fallen leaves. I found a couple more girls from my class, and we walked at a reluctantly slow pace.

The school ended up deciding to start classes from third period, since it was now sunny and above seventy degrees. Until then, we had study hall. Most of the bus stop girls showed up in the end.

The weather was fantastic on the way home. A completely cloudless sky, a fickle breeze, warm sunlight. But as I got closer to home, and the sun set, things got a bit crazy again. The same train that stopped in the morning slowed down on the way back, this time blaming strong winds. And they were strong indeed. My walk to my house, a solid twenty-five minutes, was a hilarious battle between me and the wind over the position of my skirt, me fighting to keep it down and the wind with other plans. But I sang to myself, letting the gusts cover my voice, and made it home in a wonderful mood.

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

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