Student cultural exchange with Bizen, Japan

2016 Bizen Trip
Menlo Park invites ten residents between the ages of 12 and 15 years old to apply for the Student Cultural Exchange Trip to visit the town and families of Bizen, Japan, a Friendship City with Menlo Park.

Trip details

  • Trip is tentatively scheduled for July 9-15, 2018
  • See Bizen’s rich culture and heritage
  • Make famous 1,000 yr old Bizen-yaki pottery and see its history
  • Visit Japan’s frst public school dating back to the 17th Century
  • Three parents or related adults will be chosen to help lead the trip

Application process

  • One page essay due Thursday, March 15, 2018, at 5:00 p.m.
  • 10 teens will be chosen to attend
  • Selections made Monday, April 2, 2018

Essay details

  • Express your interest and what impact this cultural exchange would have on your life and your community
  • One (1) full page written essay
  • No more than 1 page, no less than a page
  • 1 inch margins
  • 12 point Times New Roman font
  • Single spaced
  • Submit your essay


  • Each participant must purchase the round trip fight to Japan
  • Food is provided
  • Lodging is provided by Bizen families

2016 Trip summary

In 2016, Menlo Park students were matched with Japanese host families for a full Japanese-immersion experience. During the trip, the students lived with Bizen families and experienced many of the wonderful things their community offers: a Japanese tea ceremony, clay modeling class with a Bizen-yaki master sculptor, origami class, kimono dress and etiquette class and visit to two working middle schools where the students played games and attended a cooking class with Japanese students. In addition, the group had a welcoming ceremony with the Bizen City Council, a visit to the Shizutani School, Japan’s first public school dating back to the 17th century, and a day trip to Hiroshima to visit with a son of two survivors.

About Bizen

Bizen City in Okayama Prefecture is a traditional fishing village, the home of Bizen-yaki pottery, Osafune Japanese swords and a soy sauce factory. The Bizen ware pottery is a traditional art more than 1000 years old that is created with earth and fire and has a simple texture achieved without glaze or ceramic painting. This is one of the most famous potteries in Japan. Bizen is also home to the Shizutani School, the oldest public school in Japan and established in 1670, which provided education on farming and forestry activities. Its Lecture Hall, containing contrasting reddish-brown Bizen ware roof tiles and white walls, is the only national treasure in Japan that is a school structure.