This year’s “Wings for Japan*” invitees from Tohoku – middle- and high-school students, 12 of them female and six of them male – boarded LX 8947 in Tokyo for Zurich on 26 July. As they did, they already had one long journey behind them: the bullet train from Tohoku and the Narita Express to the airport!
Sauna in Bern
For Day 1 of their Swiss stay, the WFJ group were taken on a city tour in Bern. After being welcomed by a local guide, the youngsters explored the capital. The temperatures were as high as 37°C this day, and by the time they’d been up the tower of the cathedral, everybody was boiling! They found a great way to cool down, though: after watching the local children playing amid the fountains outside the Bundeshaus, they “did as the Bernese do” and jumped in, too. Only Towa and Mako were a little disappointed. “We wanted to take pictures of the bears in the Bear Park,” they said, “but they seemed to be sleeping in the shade. That’s what we want to do as well!”
Onto the trottibikes!
For Day 2 of their stay the group went up the First from Grindelwald. After a hearty meal of alpine macaroni and apple sauce, it was time for some outdoor activity. Unfortunately, the Firstflyer zipline wasn’t working owing to the strong winds. But the youngsters found an excellent alternative: trottibikes! Half the group picked them up and swept down the trail. Not surprisingly, one of the boys – Shunsuke – went too fast, couldn’t take a bend and fell off. He didn’t seem too bothered, though: “I’ll remember this scar as a brave man’s wounds!” he said.
Ballenberg in the rain
On Day 3, and despite the rain, it was off to the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum. Our young visitors were intrigued to learn about everyday life in the Swiss mountains, the local wisdoms and traditions and the ways and means of surviving the harsh winters. Ryuji especially enjoyed learning how to make bread. “The bread in Switzerland is so good!” he says. “And I love the braided one that we always have at breakfast.”
* Wings for Japan (Tsunami Care Flight) is a project for young Japanese people affected by the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Wings For Japan is being carried out by Swiss International Airlines employees, partner organisations and sponsors.