THE first group of Japanese students hosted by Bury Language School returned home at the weekend to a country very different from the one they left.
For three classes of 16 year old girls from Tokyo, being on their first trip to Europe, would have been a big thing. But these arrived to learn that while they were travelling, their homeland had been struck by its biggest ever earthquake and tsunami.
But on Friday school principal Ben Logan praised their dedication in spite of the news from home. He told their farewell gathering: “You have done yourselves proud, your schools proud and your country proud.”
Afterwards, friends Miho Horiike, Maki Ninomiya, Sayaka Hiyamiza and Rico Kawakami said they were all worried about their families but knew they were unhurt. Miho said: “This is a big opportunity for me to consider my way of life as a Japanese. I’m just a high school student but maybe I can create [raise] money and fold some cranes. Cranes symbolise peace.”
Miho had visited Hiroshima’s ground zero memorial and wanted to fold cranes with British people as a symbol of peace and remembrance. “Now I want to do it for the tsunami people, too,” she said.