On June 16, AP Japanese students and their teacher, Elena Yoo, hiked up Diamond Head in preparation for their upcoming school trip to Mt. Fuji and the Inari Shrine in Japan.

The trip, which will take place during this fall break, will take 28 HBA students from Japanese 3, Japanese 4, and AP Japanese to Japan, along with three other chaperones. These lucky travelers will get to experience sights like the breathtaking view on Mt. Fuji and the peaceful Sagano Bamboo Forest, and enjoy the delicious food in Kyoto. During their visit to Mt. Fuji, the students will have to hike roughly 2.35 miles uphill. Yoo decided to set up a date this summer to help the students prepare for it.

Hiking up Diamond Head was a way to get the students to bond, get in shape, and to talk to Japanese tourists. “Speaking Japanese with total strangers was a perfect chance for students to practice for when we travel through Japan. But, the overall goal was for the students to bond with each other, sticking to each other like glue,” Yoo said, with a chuckle.

While hiking up Diamond Head, Yoo challenged students to talk with at least three Japanese tourists. At first, she helped students to break the ice with tourists but eventually left them to try and practice on their own. Senior Niko Lopez said, “Speaking to the Japanese tourists was a little daunting at first because I was afraid of messing up and sounding terrible. However, when my first conversation ended, I felt a little relieved and satisfied because I was able to use what I learned in Japanese class outside of school.”

After the students reached the top of Diamond Head, they descended back down the hiking trail, continuing to talk with Japanese tourists whenever they had the opportunity. Once they returned to the beginning of the trail again, Yoo treated her students to a sweet, frozen treat: shaved ice.

With just five weeks left until the trip, many students are getting excited. Senior Caily Okazaki said, “Although it was really stressful talking to random tourists, this experience made me realize that I’ll be alright in Japan. So, I can’t wait to go to places like Inari Shrine and Sagano Bamboo Forest to see the beauty and nature of Japan. Especially since I get to experience it all with my friends.”