Skip to main content

Cranbrook School – North East Japan Sports and Social Justice Immersion Tour

Rugby World Cup year in 2019 brought a lot of enquiries from different groups wanting to visit Japan during this amazing event.

Connect Tomodachi was contacted by Cranbrook, one of Australia’s oldest and most famous schools

They wanted to go to Japan but they wanted to do something a little different.

The experience and immersion in northeast Japan gave an amazing experience to the players coaches and staff.

You see, only 2% of the millions of people who visit Japan go to northeast Japan it is a beautiful part of Japan. This was also the area deeply affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.

Connect Tomodachi and Gullivers came up with a unique itinerary which exceeded all the expectations of the staff students and parents.

Yes, we even had a separate parents supporters tour.

Flying into Sapporo in the far north of Japan on the island of Hokkaido the group was welcomed by a number of high schools and in particular one of Japan’s most famous, Ritsumeikan. They trained where the wallabies trained and had exchange training sessions and match play.

The following days they explored Sapporo to learn about the history of Hokkaido and the wild north frontier this land was known for.

After visiting Sapporo Dome, which in itself is a technological masterpiece and watching Wallabies versus Fiji and England versus Tonga the group flew from Sapporo to Sendai in the Tohoku region

Sendai is the largest city in northeast Japan and the Cranbrook group spent an evening there sightseeing before they made their way to the smaller city of Kamaishi, the home of Japanese rugby, steel, and fish.

Just one small example of the Japanese attention to detail is the baggage handling at Sendai airport with 50 or so bags as our group arrived and the bags came out on the conveyor belt every single bag was placed exactly the same way facing outwards spaced perfectly evenly between each bag and done with absolute care and precision

Should we be disappointed that the bags weren’t in numerical order

Kamaishi has long been a friend of Australia with famous Aussie playing there. Kamaishi is difficult to get to but well worth the trip to see this real part of Japan.

The Cranbrook group was welcomed with open arms with parties and receptions to show them the real hospitality of Japan.

Much of Kamaishi was devastated by the tsunami and earthquake of 2011 and the group got to witness and experience first-hand the stories from survivors and those that had been through the disaster.

On an incredibly emotional day the boys went to the Rugby World Cup match between Fiji and Uruguay at the newly built Unosumai stadium which stood on the site of the destroyed middle high school.

There was not a dry eye in the house that day.

The accommodation was Japanese traditional style ryokan and the welcome was as warm as the hot springs.

The group move towards the middle of the main island of Japan to the bullet train line and to catch the amazing Shinkansen south towards Koriyama and Fukushima

There were concerns in visiting Fukushima but Connect Tomodachi has a long and very deep relationship with Fukushima and the city and prefectural government there.

In Koriyama the school visits continued the receptions were incredible followed by the exchange matches and the goodwill that can be shared between sports and youth.

The camaraderie and culture of sport in Japan is number 1. There is no doubt in my mind.

The group boarded a boat to tour on the Bay of Matsushima. The area which is one of the three great views of Japan.

The Bay of Pine Islands was also badly affected by the disaster but still remains as one of the most visited spots and famously beautiful spots in Japan

The Nihon University Tohoku High school put on an incredible reception for the Cranbrook group.

Next step was travelling further South enter Tokyo for the last part of the tour.

The tour ended with watching the Wallabies versus Wales at Tokyo stadium before a farewell reception.

As we all recover from the pandemic, we look forward to Cranbrook school reuniting their friendships in Japan and especially for the Cranbrook school Japanese language department to be a part of Connect Tomodachi and the legacy of Rugby World Cup 2019 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

Leave a Reply