The Meiji period is from 1867 through 1912, and was when Japan started opening to the western world. So the architecture of the buildings was a mix of western architecture and traditional Japanese. Schools, churches, jails, police stations, stores, breweries (which were functioning, if you wanted a drink), machine shops, homes, light houses, bridges, hotels, etc. were all here in original form.
Was interesting to see. Lots of interesting architecture. And people were definitely shorter then, as I had to constantly watch my head inside the buildings. Also fun to people watch and see how Japanese families interact (I only saw one other foreigner during the whole day there). Photos of the general area below - including one shot which shows me along with my host family.
One particular exhibit was of extra interest to me. That one had old style bikes (the ones with the very large wheels up front) which people could ride, so I gave it a go. These had modern brakes and freewheel for the front, which made it easier to ride, but was still a challenge. Photo below.
I reported earlier about high school student uniforms. Elementary school students also have uniforms, but not to the same level as high school. Their basic uniform involves a yellow hat and a backpack. Boys wear baseball cap style hats and have black backpacks. Not sure how to describe the girl's hats (besides that they are not baseball caps), and they have red backpacks. All students have exactly the same bags and caps. They seem to be allowed to wear whatever clothes they want at this age. Photo below.
I mentioned in yesterday's report about not bing able to buy an orange because they weren't set to be sold that way. Well, a classmate of mine wanted a black backpack. When they found out it was going to be for a woman, they weren't going to sell it to her. Girls just aren't allowed black backpacks. It took some smooth talking and small lies to allow the purchase.
Rumor has it that a child was hit by a car at some point in the past, so now the rule is that all children must wear these bright yellow hats when going to and from school to help be seen. Also, the yellow flags in the picture are parents helping direct traffic at the more major intersections. Seems that just about all parents volunteer to do this such that the corners are monitored every school day. On my 10 minute bike ride to school, I pass 3 or 4 corners which have monitors, and I know of many more that aren't on my route. Definitely a high level of parent involvement.
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