YACHIYO CITY, JAPAN - After a huge performance Sunday, Monday was a day to learn a little bit more about Japanese culture, a culture that is as welcoming and sincere as you find on the planet.
As KLTV 7's Joe Terrell and Jamey Boyum rolled into Yachiyo City on Monday morning along with about 100 East Texans from Tyler Junior College, there were people in the caravan of buses looking around for a Brad Pitt sighting.
Japanese and American flags waved with genuine enthusiasm outside Yachiyo City Hall. People in upstairs windows waving wildly. A Texas flag stretched out just a few dignitaries down from two jumping school girls holding a giant drawing of Yacchi, the city's bluebird mascot.
It was a heartfelt reception filled with genuine excitement that gave you a lump in your throat, and an indelible understanding of just how deep this sister city relationship has developed over the past 20 years.
Some of those folks joined us for the short bus ride to Tokyo Seitoku university where TJC's cultural exchange experience meant a change of clothes.
Seitoku University students who study Japanese culture and tradition were ready to teach TJC students about 21 ancient Japanese costumes once worn by Samauri fighters and kings.
"Yeah, I feel like I'm in a time machine right now and this is going back to the feudal age of Japan," said Max Dannenberg, a member of the TJC band.
The ladies from the Apache Belles and Band felt like they were in a style show trying on elaborate Kimonos--some consisting of 12 layers of clothing.
"Well, I'm not sure what the name of it is but I have on three jackets and four belts," said Heather Fletcher, an Apache Belle. "It's really tight."
The instructors at the college say the average living Japanese person has never seen as many Kimonos in one place over a lifetime.
Whether they knew it or not, these students were learning through a real cultural exchange that no ordinary vacation or classroom could ever offer, forging even more lasting friendships that will ensure at least another 20 years.
Later this week, it's on to two United States Naval bases for more performances and a tour of an active U.S. Aircraft Carrier.