A huge difference between the US and Japan is the way children are treated in terms of independence.  Japanese children are only bussed to school until they are 6, and after that, they walk.  They don’t walk with their parents, or get rides, they just walk to school.  After school they will meet their friends by themselves, and they will play around town by themselves.  You will be on the bus with little kids around you, and they are just hanging out and doing their own thing….no adults.  It’s strange, but very neat.  Our orientation teacher attributed it to the low crime rates in Japan.  Whatever it is, it is certainly eye opening for Americans.  While we were traveling to Kamakura, so were large groups of school children on field trips.  You could tell which group the students were in based on their hat color.  A group of about 15 students would walk by wearing green hats, and then a group of 20 would walk by wearing yellow hats.  I thought it was the cutest thing ever, so of course I took lots of pictures! We must have seen 500 students that day, and probably only about 10 or 15 chaperones. (Another eye opening thing for Americans!)  Many of the students were working on English projects, so they would come up to us with their school books and ask us questions.  James and I talked to 15 students (in about 4 different groups) about where we were from, what we liked about Japan, and then we would write them a message in their school books.  I never really knew what to write, so I would always write something about how it was nice to meet them and that their English was very good.  I should have written about how I loved their hats.