Culture, heat and practice in Japan

These last few days have been an adventure to say the least.

Our journey started on Sunday morning and consisted of taking three long flights through Seattle and Seoul (Korea) before ending up in Osaka, Japan. We were greeted by our host families at the airport with big signs and banners on Monday night.

As a team, we are split up into pairs of two and staying with host families in the Osaka-Kobe area.

As soon as we stepped off of the plane in Osaka everyone truly experienced the Japanese culture in various ways. Whether it's taking the bullet train an hour and a half just to get to practice or eating the rice cakes with fish inside, it was truly a new experience.

As a team, we are cherishing every moment that goes by. We had practice early on Tuesday morning as we aren't wasting any time while preparing for the big game at the end of the week. After practice, we went to Keimei Gakuin High School, which was not far from the stadium. We had a barbecue with all the Japanese football players and competed in several competitive events. Japan won the jump rope competition but we won the tug of war. It was great fun and allowed us to get to know everyone better and make friends.

On Wednesday, we had our first practice in full pads. Man, it is really hot here! Anyway, after that, we took a bus trip to see the Kinkaku Temple, better known as the "Golden Temple". From there we went to a Samurai TV studio and saw where they make Japanese Samurai shows like Shogun.

We are looking forward to everything that is still ahead of us on this trip. We would like to say thank you one more time to those who helped us get to where we are today. We couldn't have done this without the help of our community.

Matt Hedges is a receiver and defensive back for the Ashland High football team, which is in Japan this week preparing for Saturday's Pacific Rim Bowl.

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