Last weekend was happy days for me because I deeply experienced a British taste last Saturday and Sunday. From the beginning I preferred the USA to the UK or other English-speaking countries, but my affection has been shifting to England for years since I happened to read Kaoru Mori’s Emma, a romance manga of a maid in England in the Victorian Era who falls in love with a member of the gentry.
On the first day, the first thing I did is to see Oliver! by the Musical Club of Kokugakuin Tochigi High School playing for the school’s cultural festival held in this weekend. Oliver! is, as you may already know, an English musical based on Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist. It’s the story that Oliver Twist, who has missing parents and is in a workhouse, is forced to get out of the workhouse and gets involved in a group of pickpockets. He tries to pick a pocket of a well-off lady, who finally takes him in and brings him up, and then he gets happy.
As I already wrote in this blog many times, I’ve kept in touch with Mito Saigusa. She is a choreographer teaching dance and choreography to the students of this club. I come and see their performance for the cultural festival every year in order to see her too. Of course she was well this year as well.
This year’s show satisfied me much more, because its scene was in England in the 19th century so it was just for me. I was very happy with that.
After seeing Oliver! I left the high school to drive to British Hills, the educational facility located in Fukushima Prefecture operated by Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages, with Medieval British-style buildings in a 50-acre land. Each building is furnished with the fixtures modeling the era of the building. From the beginning it was only for the students of this Institute, it’s been open to public for several years. More than a half of the staff working there were non-Japanese, ranging from Englishmen, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and more. As the official language in this area is English, even a Japanese attendant talks to you in English, because British Hills is for teaching English to guests.
A two-hour drive from Tochigi took me British Hills. It was almost on the top of a mountain, more than 20 miles far from the nearest motorway exit. Once entering into the site of British Hills, almost all traffic and informational signs on the road suddenly turned into English, just like crossing a national border into a different country.