Cultural differences were easy for Lawrence students to spot during a recent trip to Japan.
Eighteen junior and senior high school students from Lawrence had a pretty lofty view of Japan during their recent sister-city exchange trip to Hiratsuka, Japan.
"I could see Tokyo, Yokohama and Hiratsuka at once," Michael Hazel said.
The students and four parent supervisors reached the top of the Yokohama Landmark Tower, Japan's highest building, 69 floors, and learned a lot of Japanese culture and education along the way.
The students and parents spent eight days in Hiratsuka, Lawrence's Japanese sister city, arriving there June 7 and returning Thursday to Lawrence.
"People are more traditional and polite, but even though they don't know me, they said `hello' to me," said Hazel, a Central Junior High School student who will be in the eighth grade this fall.
Hannah Crabb, a Lawrence High School junior-to-be, said she saw many American goods, and they were expensive.
"I went shopping almost every day," she said. "There were many American goods such as Converse shoes, Levi's jeans and so on."
A pair of Levi's jeans, for example, cost about $20 here but were $75 in Japan.
The students stayed three nights in Hiratsuka homes. They experienced Japanese family culture and daily life.
Crabb said she could see differences the younger generation had with traditional Japanese.
"A Japanese grandmother takes a bath every day," she said. "She prays to the small shrine that is in the house. And she sometimes wears kimono. But her granddaughter takes a shower and wears jeans. And she doesn't pray to the shrine."
Students visited Landmark Tower and a big amusement park in Yokohama, Hase Temple and Great Buddha in Kamakura, the Fujiya chocolate factory and a fruit and vegetable market.
They also visited two junior highs and a high school and talked to Japanese students.
"The school was bigger but had less students than Lawrence High School," said Anna Sedo, a Lawrence Alternative High School student who will be senior. "And everyone is involved in clubs," including soccer, basketball, pingpong and cultural clubs.
Other students who went on the trip were Andy Woolard, Valerie Burt, Connor Treanor, Kelsey Woolard, Eric Dobbins, Logan Smith, Michael McQueeney, Betsy Howland, Joey Ewert, Karen Ebmeier, Jake Forbes, Kate Frick, Helen White, Jamie Swain and Jay Dobbins.
Parent supervisors on the trip were John and Carol Dobbins and Mickey and Berta Woolard.