Japanese High School Students Visit Lea Hill

Thirteen Japanese students from Komaba Gakuen High School in Tokyo, Japan, recently visited the Wesley Homes Lea Hill campus. These high school seniors wanted to tour Wesley Homes to see how retirement communities in the United States compared to senior living in Japan.

Retirement communities are a somewhat new installment in Japan. They began to appear only in the last 15 years. Traditionally, aging relatives moved in with immediate or distant family members. In the past decade, there has been a significant shift, and a need for senior living communities in Japan was born. These Japanese retirement homes have a similar structure to the communities in the U.S. However, group homes, where large groups of relatives or friends share common living spaces, are more popular in Japan.

After touring the Wesley Homes Lea Hill campus, the students showed their appreciation with a traditional dance and song, Sōran Bushi, and origami lessons. Sōran Bushi is a Japanese work song that is taught in schools as part of the curriculum. Historically, the song was sung by fishermen to help keep each other awake on cold nights and to encourage each other to work harder. The dance mimics large waves and the motions of fish harvesting by fishermen. During the song and dance, the participants shout and call to each other, “Dokkoi syo-!” and “So-ran!” These common Japanese phrases show exacerbation at lifting heavy objects.

One Wesley Homes resident, Annie Yoshimoto, showed her appreciation of the performance by passing out handmade fans to the students. Annie chose to create fans as a gift because of their cultural significance. Fans are given in Japanese culture to honor special occasions. The fans were decorated with Americana to represent the combining of two cultures that day. This multi-cultural and generational event brought together two thoughtful groups of people for an entertaining afternoon!