June 22 – Amakusa
We awoke to a sunny, warm day. We had breakfast at the hotel, loaded the luggage truck and coaches, and departed for Amukusa. We stopped for lunch at a service area. The best way to describe a service area is a mix between a truck stop and a rest area. We hit the highway again, stopping a while later to tour Kumamoto Castle. We had 90 minutes to tour various parts of the “castle”, which served as a garrison for soldiers during feudal Japan. We had another stop at an awe-inspiring service area, which included a koi pond, waterfall, and a huge statue. The owner of the shopping area turned out to be a horn player, and was disappointed that we could not attend our concert the next day.
Finally, we arrived at Hondo Junior High School in Amakusa. The students were ushered into the school for a brief concert, then snacks with their host families. The welcome party was much shorter than the one in Iizuka, but just as enjoyable. Soon, the students left with their new hosts.
June 23 – Amukusa/Ushibuka
We met up the next morning at a local park. Each host family brought their students there so that the entire OSU group could travel to the concert hall together. The concert was taking place in another town further south by the name of Ushibuka. The band rehearsed from 10-12, enjoyed bento boxes for lunch, and then got dressed and warmed up for the second concert of the tour.
The concert went extremely well! Each piece was well-received, including the three encores! Again, be packed up our things and loaded the coach. As we waited to leave, a group of children inside a building next to our bus began singing. We realized that they were singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to our students. The OSU students joined in as well. We returned to the park and all went our separate ways for the rest of the night.