Visit Australia in 2000

21 to 30 October, 2000

My Travel Sketch of Australia (Hiroshi Kawakami)
My Second Visit to Australia in 2000 (Koichi Nishizawa)
Gee, it's great to be back home in Sydney! (Yoshikazu Kondo)
The recent visit of friends from Naoetsu (Rod Yates)

My Travel Sketch of Australia

Written by Hiroshi Kawakami
Translated into English by Yoshie Tanabe

I have a shadowy recollection from my childhood when I was taken to Naoetsu Beach to swim, I saw a long hut with a black roof inside a black wall along the river. It was being loaded with coal. Because I was mere child, I had no way of finding out that it was a prisoner of war camp, much less imagining what tragedy had happened there. I also had no way of knowing about this place's connection to start-up of the present-day Japan Australia Society of Joetsu (JASJ).

Before talking about my travel I would like to tell you how I became involved in the Japan Australia Society of Joetsu. In 1997 when I retired from Joetsu Driving School, in which I had worked for 36 years, my brother-in-law, Mr. Nishizawa recommended to me to join JASJ. He told me about the activities of it and that moved me to decide to join it. But I was always at a loss as to how I would play my part in this society. In 1998 when we had guests from Molong, I found my role. That was to take pictures, which is also my hobby. Since then I have enjoyed filling the role of a photographer and a driver. This time I got an opportunity to visit Australia as a member of JASJ.

Mr. Kondo said, "We are supposed to go together from Sydney Airport to the hotel but after that we act individually." Mr. Nishizawa said, "I will spend two days with you in Sydney. But I can't be sure after that." I was very disturbed at their mention of this because it was my first travel abroad. Fortunately for me, we found that participants were five less than expected. Finally, we decided to act together in Australia. This gave me a sigh of relief. On October 11 we had a meeting at Mr. Kondo's place. From the next day I started preparing for my travel, like a kid does for a school excursion. I could not wait for the departure day. I thought it was funny that I was acting this way.

The day before departure I often repeatedly put my things in and out for my travel. It was night when I finished packing. In the morning of the 21 we assembled at Wakinoda Station. Chatting away about Sydney, we never felt bored until we came to Narita Airport.

The seat number: 70B. The boarding gate: C84. The flight number: QF022 Qantas Airways. The departure time:20:45. At last we started for Australia! I love airplanes, especially the acceleration sound of taking off. A couple of hours later, we had dinner. That was at about eleven o'clock, Japan Time. Since I was so sleepy, I could not taste anything. When I woke up, I saw a different world below through the clouds. When I heard the announcement of landing, I was so thrilled that I became a tourist 100%, forgetting that I was visiting here as a member of JASJ.

After finishing the entry procedure, when I was looking at the scenery around the airport, I found a familiar face. Yes, Mr. Rod Yates. He came to meet us by bus. Even though we had already known that he would come, we were extremely pleased with his favor, especially in a foreign country. We enjoyed the scenery while the bus was heading for Sydney.

At night we had a party at Rod's house. Rod's house is across from Koala Park and it takes about 10 minutes by car from Pennant Hills Station. We went to Sydney Fish Market to get ingredients for the party. There were many kinds of fish that we do not see in Japan. On the way back to Rod's house we were so excited to see wonderful scenery such as the Opera House, the Harbor Bridge and so on. (picture 1)

During the party, the other 4 members except me reminisced about previous travels to Australia. Even though I came here for the first time, I could share good memories with them. We made Udon noodle from scratch. Five Australian people attendance enjoyed it very much. After such a wonderful party, we went back to the hotel. The first day ended like this.

On the second day, we went sightseeing in Sydney. Everything I saw, heard and ate was a first experience for me. In the evening we went back to Rod's house to have another party. We had a homelike party with several Australians. We stayed that night at Rod's house. We sat up late to enjoy chatting.

Before coming to Australia I was anxious how I should spend a week there. But time flashed by and the third day came quickly. We went to the Blue Mountains. During the 2-hour drive, we saw magnificent scenery like sheer canyons and mist that went up from there, and the place with legends about rock called Three Sisters. (See the picture below)

The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters at the Blue Mountains

When we went back to Sydney, we also enjoyed seeing the night view. Among a lot of neon signs, we found Japanese company names.

On the fourth day, we took the 7:08 train to Canberra. We saw grasslands of vast extent through the window. Sheep and cows were browsing there. We were never bored with the panorama. We arrived at 11:30 and met Mrs. Carmel Ryan and another man. He was so generous and humorous that we never felt we were meeting him for the first time.

We went sightseeing in the afternoon. In Canberra, it was cooler than Sydney so we appreciated the locust trees, wisteria and azaleas. Even though it is the capital, it is not so crowded. We visited Canberra-Nara Park and the Australia War Memorial. The Zero combat plane, which was operated by an ace of aces, Saburo Sakai during World War‡U; Imperial Japanese Army Fighter Hayabusa; type 88 antiaircraft artillery and combat planes from all over the world are exhibited. Many young and old alike visit there.

In the evening we had a welcome party at Canberra Hotel. Attendants at the party were Mrs. Ryan, that humorous man, Mrs. Hiroko Fischer who is a civilian ambassadress of Okinawa, Mr. Michel Hodgkin who is good at Japanese, Mr. & Mrs. Anne, Mr. Kanazawa who is a teacher in Canberra, Ms Noriko Moritomo who is an assistant teacher, a couple of other Australians and us. Every Australian whom we met entertained us sprightly and humorously. We enjoyed chatting there very much. I really appreciate their hospitality. (picture 3 & 4)

On the fifth day, I woke up with a refreshed feeling. I went out to the courtyard and found some beautiful and unfamiliar birds. We went shopping and I bought some goods on Mr. Asano's advice.

We went back to Sydney by the 12:15 train. Mrs. Ryan and that man came to see us off. We were most grateful to them for their entertainment. I still remember that they kept waving to us in farewell. We can exchange happiness by mutual consideration. We are separated 7840km away, have different languages and customs and have a detestable past too! For all these things, we are bound by ties of deep friendship. I have a great respect for all the people who have been involved in making such relationships.

I found another surprise. Without any contact, Rod came to Sydney's Central Station to meet us. He said "shh" to me when I found him first. It looked like he wanted to give us surprise! He came there by the rental bus which we thought he had returned. We decided to stay over at Rod's house that night.

The Queen Victoria Building in the City

On the sixth day, Rod showed us his farm and told his plan for it. It is an orchard that is 10 minutes away from his house. After going back to the hotel, we enjoyed sightseeing downtown. We saw wonderful places like the Queen Victoria Building (picture 5) near Town Hall Station. This is a famous shopping place and has dignified shops in it. Shopping there made us feel rich.

On the last night we invited Rod to dinner. I did not know how to express my appreciation for all he did for us. I hope this travel sketch conveys my feeling of gratitude to him.

We came back to Japan with plenty of remembrances. When I meet my friends next time, I will show them a lot of the pictures which I took in Australia.


My second visit to Australia in 2000

Written by Koichi Nishizawa
Translated into English by Miyoko Uchiyama

I just came back from Australia on 8 September 2000. It was a little bit tough for me to visit there again in October. Despite my brother in law's (Mr. Kawakami)enthusiastic hope to visit there with me, we didn't have sufficient confidence to staythere for one week by ourselves.

This was solved by Mr. Kondo's encouragement saying,"I'll take care of you because the numbers of this visit are small."
On our way to Narita airport, Mr. Asano confessed that he had hesitated to join us again and again and that he had some difficulty in coming to the conclusion that he would come this time.

Harbour Bridge and Opera House
seen from the park
where we went to afther our arrival in Sydney

I just came back from Australia on 8 September 2000. It was a little bit tough for me to visit there again in October. Despite my brother in law's (Mr. Kawakami)enthusiastic hope to visit there with me, we didn't have sufficient confidence to staythere for one week by ourselves.

This was solved by Mr. Kondo's encouragement saying,"I'll take care of you because the numbers of this visit are small."
On our way to Narita airport, Mr. Asano confessed that he had hesitated to join us again and again and that he had some difficulty in coming to the conclusion that he would come this time.

When we arrived in Australia, I stayed at Rod's house by myself. The remaining four of us went back to Sydney. I worked with Rod for two days to exterminate bees. On the first day I had a breathtaking experience. On the post of a fence in the park, I found a mass of the beautiful bees, some as big as 50~60 cm. Long. They looked very different from what I have ever seen because they have beautiful colors and an unusual glaze. Rod blew a little smoke to the bees and scooped up part of them on my right hand. It was densely covered with these bees. They were faintly warm and they felt really comfortable. I was greatly touched. I brought them home and transferred them to the beehive. Now that it is midsummer, they must gather sweet honey.

I met Mr. Cook at the party at Rod's house and he kindly took us on a picnic, driving and guided us around the city in September. He asked me,"I welcome you again, but how is it that you like Australia so much as to visit here twice in two months?" I answered this question in my self-introductory speech at the welcome party in Canberra. At first , I spoke in halting English but later in fluent Japanese. It went like this. "Your country is majestic, the landscapes are so beautiful, but most of all the people have open and gracious hearts and are warm and generous. This was a wonderful 9-day journey in Australia. I will probably never experience this kind of wonderful journey again."

I'd like to say thank you to Mr. Kondo who took such kind care of us. . I appreciates Mr. Asano who taught me good expressions. Thank you very much to Mr. Abe also who took care of us at the hotel and helped me in many other ways . Mr. Kawakami! You are the happy person who experienced such a great and wonderful journey in your first stage of oversea trip. Ms. Ishizuka, thank you very much for taking care of us all throughout the journey.

This was the great result I could get through the study of English conversation. I could meet such wonderful people who brought me the best joy all through my life.

The only regret in the journey was, if only I could speak English more fluently. Someone must whisper me, "It's your business to study harder." I understand it. I'll never give up to study English. I really would like to ask all your favor to support me studying English.

Thank you


Gee, it's great to be back home in Sydney!

Written and translated into Englisy by Yoshikazu Kondo

I firmly believe that no other trip is better than the one we undertake when visiting friends in another country. Staying with frineds in their homes and talking with them always brings much joy and happiness to us. I spent such a marvellous time with our mates in Sydney.

Early in the morning on 22 October 2000, we arrived at Sydney Airport. Our friend, Rod, waited for us there and took us by minibus to his house, which I call "Australian Home." A party was organised for us that day and we expected some guests. The party had no specific starting time, so we didn't know who would join us nor when they would arrive. I had found it difficult to sleep on board the flight from Japan, so I felt sleepy and thought it might be a bit tough for me to be able meet new acquaintances.

Koala Park
Koala Park stands
right across from our Home in Sydney

In the afternoon, Bob, a craft potter, was the first to arrive. I had actually met him for the first time two years before when our Mayor visited Australia. He held such a strong affinity with Japan that he called his home "Sanda Hotel" and made it open to people from Japan. Laura, which is the name of the place where he lives, and Sanda in Kobe are sister cities. We congratulated each other on our reunion and talked about pottery for a while.

The next person to appear was Russell in his Happi jacket and his friend Monica, who was from Austria. She had met Russell when she taught German in London and was visiting Russel in Australia during her three-month vacation. We enjoyed a scintillating conversation because we shared many things in common. The kind of common ground we both enjoyed were that we were both foreigners there in Australia and English was not our mother tongue. We also both knew how delightful it was to visit friends. I told her Joetsu, my home city, is a sister city of Lilienfeld in Austria, which suprised her. She said she would visit the town upon her return home.

Russell, who appeared to be interested in architecture, said he was building his own house. He was a world traveler and always compared culture of countries he had visited with that of Australia, none of which satisfed him. He said his country had a long way to go to match other countries. In that respect, Rod had the same opinion, and I quite understood why he had invited Russell there. He told me to come and look at his house, which was under construction, and I said I would, but it was a promise which I couldn't keep.

Allen, a disk jockey, with a fondness for Brazilian music, and his wife, Lee, were the next people to pay a call. Lee was not tall, but she was very beautiful. She always smiled sweetly and I don't believe I had ever talked to such a beautiful lady face-to-face, so I was a bit nervous. She was also kind enough to give us some advice about our itinerary.

A little later, Gail and Jim arrived. Gail had visited Joetsu in March, 2000 with her father and left a favorable impression on me. During our talk at the Kakushin-ji Temple, she moved me to tears by saying: "I knew from childhood that my father was a POW in Japan. However he never raised me in a way I would bear ill will toward Japanese. Now I appreciate so much that he didn't." Later at a reception, she smiled at me and said, "I will not say anything to upset you." Six months later, I saw her again at Rod's place and felt very happy to remember our conversations and time together.

Rika, a former Japanese teacher at Macquarie University, greeted us all. She looked conservative, but seemed to have a strong will, because she did such things as volunteer work for the Paralympic Games, which were held immediately after the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

At last, Jenny, John and their children arrived. After watching the Paralympics Games, they dropped by to see us. Anthony, their eldest son, had become a well-mannered, delightful young boy and we were greeted with affection. On the other hand, Michael, their second son, was quite boisterous, running about the place with Jenny in tow behind him. I smiled and thought to myself about my own life with small children. Everywhere in the world parents would probably be experiencing similar things.

We were all united for the first time in six months. It had been this long since we had seen Rod, Gail, Jenny, John and Terry Cook in Joetsu. I believe that exchange visits like these cultivate firm friendships and develop our mutual understanding. It just goes to show us all that we can become friends regardless of nationalities, language barriers and different customs. This is particularly evident when we consider that even though their fathers and he himself were once treated so badly, there is always room for the flower of friendship and mutual understanding to bloom and grow.

Rod has finished building his home, which has provided a place for us to stay. Jenny, Gail and the Cooks come to see us there as well. They are all like members of our family, and Rod's place is like our own home too. Seeing them, talking and dining together, I began to realize that I had come back home.


The recent visit of friends from Naoetsu

Written by Rod Yates

You blokes are great fun! You come into my house, turn my kitchen "upside down" cooking udon and taking photographs, and we all end up eating so much food that a person takes at least a week to recover. We take a few trips, but I don't get the chance to take people out into "the bush".

I like the way Nishizawa-san "dives" into anything that's going on, like a bit of bee-keeping, or driving around in the old Land Rover.

The only thing that annoys me is that I can't find the recipe for Udon. I wrote it down. Someone pinched it. I've had to make my own recipe until the Deshi returns.

Send over some people to practise English and teach me Nihon-go. We have a lot to do.
I promised Yohko that I will be able to speak Japanese, by the end of 2001.
Please Help!